Friday, February 17, 2006

tuesday, february 19

they didn't know if i would ever come. they'd waited for years. they'd prayed. and then... the news that i was coming warmed their hearts. she woke up before the sun one cold morning to tell her husband it was time, and he took her to the hospital on his way to work. they put her in a bed and she waited. for hours. from before the sun rose in the morning until dusk started to consider making its arrival. my dad's mother stopped through on the way home from her nursing shift, but there was no point in her staying long, since first timers always take forever to deliver. but eventually, some genius finally realized that i hadn't even been proactive enough to break the water, so the doctor did my mother that favor instead.

almost immediately, the excitement began. at 4:41 on that tuesday afternoon, some anonymous nurse recorded the time i took my first breath. seven pounds, some odd ounces, female, black. unfortunately, i'd swallowed a little amniotic fluid on the




way here - i guess with all the commotion and my reluctance to get here in the first place, perhaps i'd opened my mouth in an early protest against the whole process. you see, i was expected to arrive almost a week earlier. but even early on, i suppose my father's stubbornness had already marked me. my mother and the other grown folks thought i'd been here before or something, and if that's true - if i knew then what i know now - i don't blame myself for my hesitance. in any case, i wasn't in a rush to say anything. my mother's anxiety skyrocketed as she waited to hear my voice - it seemed to her like it was taking me too long to say something, anything. but she found out soon enough that my lungs were just fine and quite healthy. after they cleaned me and returned me to her, she wondered what kind of child would just look around, seemingly unimpressed with the new surroundings. but she was glad to see me, and she certainly had done enough work to help me arrive.

the picture taken of us on this day would have the uninformed believe that her style of choice that day was an afro - on the contrary. it's just that her relaxer was no match for the travail of my arrival. which happened just in time for him to get to




the hospital from work before an hour had gone by. the first time he saw me, he couldn't see my eyes because i was asleep (probably more bored than tired). but he believed at that moment, seeing the tiny yellow baby with gargantuan cheeks, dark feathery hair, and squinty eyes, that his daughter was a special child. i probably looked special, too, since i was quarantined from all the other new people. because i'd swallowed that fluid, the nurses wanted to make sure i didn't get sick and harm the other babies behind my clumsiness. they tied a red piece of yarn around a lock of my hair at the very top of my head for my first picture. the likeness shows a bright red mound of blubber, and if you look hard enough at the eyes and mouth, you can see that the face looks angry - that in fact, the two fists are balled up and held up like a boxer's. it's a stance i've never forgotten. i assume it as often as i feel i have to come out of my corner swinging to protect the me inside who wants to remain as innocent as i was on the day that i was reluctantly born. a day that followed the end of aquarius and heralds the dawn of pisces.

this year, i will be enjoying the age that my father was on that day.

happy new year to me! i'll holla after my three-day weekend and the feature...