I was conceived in a perfectly polished white souped up 1957 Mercury Convertible, on a Southern California beach sometime around Christmas in 1959. My imagination carries me through this story, part of which was told to me, and part of which I imagine to fill in the gaps.
With sounds of a night by the ocean permeating their surroundings- waves crash along the shoreline. A low, almost inaudible hum underscores the scene- coming off a single streetlight. It is beautiful; the streetlight is strangely beautiful but still falls short in comparison with the winter moon’s illumination- the backdrop of which offers a transcendent, almost hallucinatory glow.
The front wheels get stuck. They try to push the car up the slight slope of sand and back onto the pavement to get back on the road. No luck. They are not able to muster up enough strength between the two of them to push the car out of the hollow sandy ditch. Making it back home for their usual goodnight kiss on the front porch of my grandparent’s home by my mother’s rigid curfew of 10:00 PM was not going to happen. My parents find a phone booth and call for help but are told help will not arrive for at least an hour. So they wait together on this quiet evening, on this quiet beach.
Waiting. Many things happen when people wait. Waiting offers opportunities to discover things not otherwise discovered. These hormone-raged teenagers had time to do anything they wanted. It became their sacred time away from others- those who would forbid them from expressing their natural physical inclinations- so while waiting for someone get them “unstuck” from the sand, my 18 year old parents took advantage of this open- invitation to express how they felt about each other. (We all know how this turns out!)
I believe I chose my parents. I also believe I was born “for” them. Children have a tendency to finish off unmet stirrings for parents and assistance with their own personal growth. On the flip side, I equally believe my parents were chosen for me.
My birth came late, a month late. The projected due date of October 31st, was not realized. It would be Halloween, and the anticipation of my arrival happening during a time of ghosts, goblins, jack-o-lanterns, and parents sneaking into their children’s candy bags, was festive for everyone. But I waited. I arrived what seemed a very long time for my mother, a month later- on a different holiday- Thanksgiving! I was ushered into the world with a smell of turkey, honey glazed carrots, gravy, and pumpkin pie, along with a general sense of gratitude, family connection, and music underscoring the event. I showed up for a season of reflection and remembrance; which I resonate with still today. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
My earliest memory was when I was 4 years old, sitting alone by my grandparent’s swimming pool. My grandmother took care of me while my mother went to work. She taught piano and voice lessons, and while she did that I would sit on the edge of the pool and chat with an imaginary pink elephant at the bottom of the pool. My pink elephant never had a name, and no-one really ever knew about him; but I know that he taught me how to sit quietly with myself, and wait, and ponder things in my imagination.
Today my life works best when I’m connecting with the people I love. I have an amazing family and good friends and I realize today that my “hanging back” to come into this world is in my personality. (I even waited to finish my Bachelors degree until I was in my 50’s). It has everything to do with being patient; “hanging out, taking time to get to know myself better and really realize what I’m made of…
…a skill my personal pink elephant taught me!