I have gone by many names, some chosen, some inherited, some thrown at me in anger, in scorn, in friendship.
Names add nothing to who I am, who I choose to be, who I am seen to be by the those who throw around names as if they were magical incantations, elixirs with great power that fall at my feet like shattered icicles of my not caring.
Children have an innate sense of their ancestry. I was a child of the city it’s streets my paths, always under the watchful eye of my warden – mother.
Dirt was to be avoided at all possible cost, so I never dug my hands into the fertile soil of my village in the heart of Lithuania, or tasted the readying harvest that dirt would remember.
I never stole a nip of poitin only the Manischewitz which, in our home, masqueraded as wine fit for drinking. It is only now in my second childhood that the ancestry very deep in my DNA has finally found purchase in my mind and soul.
In the dark heart of night time is suddenly frozen, the clock’s hands stalactites and stalagmites, unyielding denying the approach of morning, leaving the sun imprisoned under the watchful gaze of its celestial wardens.
It is then you appear, call out to me, beg me be silent, not asking the lifetime of questions I have accreted, providing my own hopes and imagination for answers, but you have faces, not those of that weekend but of other days, she younger, in college, he in a college yearbook at a school he never attended save as part of the ROTC contingent of the Air Force.
I bid you farewell, finally, and time again takes motion and morning welcomes the sun.
My younger step-siblings had it easy once our father made seriouis money, for then my mother decided we needed a live in housekeeper, one who could cook, clean and take care of all those things domestic.
So my siblings had only to put their dishes near the sink, their laundry down the chute, and keep their rooms marginally tidy.
I had missed most of that when I was their age and father kept us afloat with nothing to spare, so I knew how to wash dishes, how to run a load of laundry, skills that served me well when Uncle Sam gave me KP duty, and waist deep in dishes and pots I imagined how my siblings might fare in that situation for I needed a good laugh then.
In my dreams I wandered the alleys of Lisbon searching for a familiar face, and many came close, but no man stopped me and asked if I was, by chance his son, for he dreamed I was what a son of his would look like.
Now I have no need to wander for I know he is in a military cemetery in Burlington, New Jersey, and I doubt he had any idea in life he had another son, or a daughter in Italy, for weekends were quickly passed when you had to be back at the base by midnight on Sunday.
He says he has found a treasure trove of home movies 8mm film in small metal cans, the sprocket holes intact for the most part, my childhood I thought captured on 35mm slides that I am too cheap to pay to have digitized, my adoptive parents ill at ease with a camera assuming always back lighting was preferable, and I admit it was nice to be an angel or at least so my perpetual halo allows me to claim.
But we have no projector and given his photographic skills, his cinematographic ones suggest a black and white zombie film of embarrassment, but I tell him thanks and imagine several uses for the circular metal cans.