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January 2007

Overhead at Vanderbilt Beach

Overheard: at Vanderbilt Beach Naples, Florida

I'm sunbathing as a man behind me starts talking into his cellphone. His conversation before and after this call consists of a few words strung between variations of the word "fuck." He's short with silvery hair, way too tan and wearing green swim trunks and a grey tank top, the kind where it looks like he cut the sleeves off an old shirt. He is chain smoking.

"Hi, Jackie. Happy birthday, baby. Are you just getting out of school? Oh. Oh, Christmas vacation. Yeah, I totally forgot about that. So where are you? Oh, all the way up there? You in the car or what? Who's driving? Oh, okay. Who else is wit you? oh. So you drove all the way out there and didn't get to see him play. Oh, that's too bad. Well, i guess stop at that hamburger stand on the way home. You remember; the one I always used to take you to. Where we had the chili cheese fries? Yeah. So what, are you having a party tonight or what? They're on a cruise? Again?! They just went on a cruise. I'm sorry I'm not there for your 18th birthday honey. Oh, I'm here sitting on the beach. It's about 82 degrees. How about there? Yeah, I know. Weird weather. What is it 50s or 60's? How were your marks this ... uh... marking period? You haven't yet? Oh. Well how do you think you did? Well, good or bad? Mostly good? That's good, as long as you're doing your best. Well, I'm sorry I can't be there for your 18th. No, it's okay, but it's not. But, I'll see you ... well I'll be there February third. I'll see you immediately. Next time I call I'll get dates for your basketball games. I'm dying to see you play. Okay. I love you honey. And hey, remember, if you need something, you just call me okay? Bye, baby."

After shamelessly eavesdropping on this conversation I have all sorts of ideas about the back story here. What are some of your impressions?

Airport Heaven

When I first heard my travels to visit my parents in Florida would take me on a five state tour of airports, I could've been a little irritated. What with all the connecting flights, trekking across airports, finding my seat, wrestling my "yes, goddammit it's a carry on" into the overheard compartment and whatnot. But, oh no. My eyes glistened and grin broadened as I imagined the possibilities. Just think of all the strangers I'll see. This crazy ass itinerary increases my opportunity to talk to new people exponentially. Sweet.

See, there's a certain type of person people try to avoid when traveling. I'm afraid I am that person. I do, however, follow social cues like the pointed placement of earphones or the polite smile followed by burying nose in book maneuver. And of course, the more overt signal my seat mate between North Carolina and Florida immediately employed, application of a sleeping mask. But if you aren't reading, listening to music or sleeping, you are, as far as I'm concerned, fair game. You are the person I love sitting next to.

I always break the ice by offering those near me a piece of gum, "for your ears." I say with a friendly smile. Based on their response, our interaction begins. Even overtly hostile looking folks have turned out to be delightful flying companions when offered a piece of gum, a smile and a listening ear for as long as they want to talk. This is where some people get confused and tease me. "You're the person I hate sitting next to on planes." Because they think I like to do the talking. Far from it. I start the conversation and sit back. You'd be amazed at how many people pour out their life story to a perfect stranger. Hell, it's safe, they'll never see me again once we split at the airport terminal in search of our respective concourses for connecting flights. And for me, could there be a better study of human nature then observing people in a situation as stressful as traveling? There are meltdowns, arguments, emotional goodbyes and reunions to behold. It is my own personal heaven.

Christmas Past (part 3)

Christmas_card_1989 1989: Mazatlan - you have no idea how cool i felt in this outfit. And many happy memories of playing in the ocean in Mexico.

Christmas_card_1990 1990: Sunriver - another place full of happy  memories with the Borbeks, and especially Mel. This was the start of a particularly awkward phase as the mushroom do gave way to something far more hideous.

Christmas_card_1991 1991: Finding us on the slopes in the winter was pretty common. Especially on Sundays. I remember asking dad why it was okay to miss church in the winter. We were riding on the chairlift and he stretched his arms out and asked, "Can you imagine being closer to God than this?"

Christmas Past (part 2)

Christmas_card_1984_2 1984: Tacoma waterfront ... many memories of us walking, biking and eating at at the waterfront. Enjoying the view and the Tacoma Aroma.

Christmas_card_1985_2 1985: Cascades - Rainier probably. In our pseudo-twin outfits. Definitely represents my childhood. Also the mushroom hair cut was a staple.

Christmas_card_1988_1 1988: Cascades - are you getting the twin theme? We did a lot of hiking ... I'd forgotten about that.

Christmas Past

Every year I want to write a witty, newsy Christmas letter - and I swear one of these years I will (followed by a blog post in defense of the Christmas letter that so many folks think is cheesy and boring - I, for the record, LOVE to receive and read them). But instead, I'm scrambling at the last minute to get my cards out. In keeping with the Oravetz family tradition, I usually pick a picture representing a highlight from the year and send a photo card because I love, love, love getting those in the mail as well. This year, however, I am a total slacker - or nothing that interesting happened this year (?!) and at the last minute dug out a picture from six years ago and used that since it's one of my most favorite pictures of us, and then added a picture of Little Lucy because she is certainly a highlight! Going through the motions of putting the cards out, I realized how much a part of this time of year it is for me. So much so that even though I'm doing no tree, no decorating and no baking, the cards are still going out. They might be Happy New Years cards, but I'm still doing it. It's one way to say, even though we don't talk as much as we should, or see each other near enough, I love and care about you and am glad you're in our life.

Here's a little trip down Oravetz Family Memory Lane:

Christmas_card_1980 1980: Taken at the Tacoma Lawn Tennis Club - very representative of where we spent our summer days.

Christmas_card_1981 1981: Le Snack Cafe Espresso - our restaurant. Also very representative of where we spent a lot of our time. I do NOT know how my mom handled two little kids, a restaurant, a home and still put delicious meals on the table three times a day. My dad was working full-time as an anesthesiologist, on-call. Good times.

Not quite speechless

I've been wanting to find my birth mom for more than half my life. So now that I have, I'm not sure what to say. I'm nearly speechless, but not quite, because after all, it's me. But really, I'm not sure where to start. And not just because it didn't go quite as I'd hoped; because it didn't go as badly as I'd feared ... it just wasn't what I expected, I guess.

As I was emailing with the person working to help me find my birth mom, she'd left me a voice mail downstairs. She'd made contact with my birth mother. Who doesn't know if she wants to meet me. I said I was prepared for the worst case scenario when I started this search. It is what I was supposed to say. Those are the words of a grown up. But right now I don't feel so grown up. I feel sad and confused, mixed with some understanding and still a lot of questions. Lots and lots of questions. I'm curious about things I'm not supposed to wonder about, things other people balk at, but I can't help it. It's how my brain and heart (which seem more connected than is right or healthy) work. As luck-or whatever-would have it, I just so happen to have a therapy appointment scheduled tomorrow. The same appointment I meant to cancel all day because I'm still sick. But, I think I'll keep it.

So there it is on a random Monday night. After a dinner of enchiladas made with sauce that finally cleared my sinus cavity for the first time in six days, followed by a cup of Immunity Tea and in the middle of working on my Christmas cards for this year because yes (damn it!) there is still time to get them out - I get the call. She's been located. More, much more, later. Now, I'm just processing. And wishing I'd posted some of this other stuff sooner because now ... it's weird, now it's like I'm writing it in response to tonight's news but I actually wrote a lot of this stuff years ago. But now, I can't read it without being surprised that the answer is no. No she doesn't really wonder. And I can't believe that I am related to someone who isn't emotionally attached to something as huge as oh, I don't know, a baby she gave up for adoption 30 years ago. Maybe there was a mix up in the paperwork? 

I suppose if there was only one thing I could tell her, besides thank you for doing what was best for me and that she picked an awesome family for me, it would be that I don't need anything from her. I'm not looking to replace anyone, or to force a relationship or for money or anything. I want to know her; I want her to want to know me. Maybe a meeting or two and some letters. A relationship if we click, but other than that ... I'm good.

just wondering

there is one thing missing

in my pictures of the day i was brought home.

i know i was a wee one. with lots of

dark, brown hair - and big, curious brown eyes

i know my parents were in ski clothes

when they came for me - the call of

my arrival came as they prepared to head

to Crystal Mountain on that unusually

sunny February morning.

the excitement in their eyes is clearly

reflected in the pictures in the album.

I rode home from the hospital with my parents

in a 1965 Buick Skylark

but i wonder about the woman who

carried me in her body to give me

a chance at life with a family ready

for me.

what did her eyes reflect that day?

who drove her home from the hospital?

who held her hand during labor?

did she want to change her mind- even for a moment?

did she hear my cry?

does she hear it still?

i'm just wondering.

- june 2003