Friday, August 28, 2009
When I first met my twins, they were six months old, in an orphanage in Vietnam. They had inflamed eczema on their faces and, on their shaved heads, a two-day growth of spiky black hair poking up through the infected scabs covering the tops of their heads. You'd press on their little crusty scalps and puss would ooze out. I remember holding them proudly in our arms on the plane to the US and telling the stewardesses brightly "We just adopted them!" while they looked back at us with pasted-on smiles and deep pity in their eyes. Those babies were truly and seriously funky looking. And when we got home, we were told again and again how lucky they were - because they were a different race, from a third-world country, had been in an orphanage, and were, admittedly, kind of grungey at first. But I'd been trying to have babies for for a few years, had some miscarriages, and to me they were the instant cure for my broken heart, the happy ending to all my tears, splotchy infected little miracles, and I knew I was the lucky one.
They cleaned up pretty nice, didn't they?
They started talking (English) at seven months old, shortly after they arrived in the states. They learned to read and write very young, they draw astonishingly well, play the guitar with talent and flair, make mostly A's in school, and they're gay. Because of this last little detail, a lot of people have been telling me, once again, how lucky they are to have me as a mother. Yesterday was my birthday and, in a card she'd drawn herself, one of my twins wrote, "I owe you for everything I am today. I'll love you always." She was so embarrassed she had to run and hide while I read it. She is sixteen after all. But when I was sixteen, I think the deepest thing I had to say to my parents was "I'm going out. Can I have some money?" or "You just don't understand!" (It was the 70s. We had a generation gap to maintain.)
So I just wanted to say what a privilege it is for me to be the mother of these lovely, talented, kind young women. Just as it has been a privilege for me to know all the gay men and women I've known over the years. Because people who know that shit happens - that life doesn't always follow the script we're handed when we're kids, that "normal" is a myth - are the very best kind of people to have at your side through the ups and downs of life. They're the ones who don't get scared when things are rough, who stay with you every step of the way. Having people like that in your life, however they come to you, now that's lucky.