Full disclosure: I’m not an orphan. I was, however, adopted after a fashion and the people who did so are now dead.
Let me start at the beginning. My mother, a stripper and perennial drug user, married a man named Rick Mayer. Rick’s a decent guy. Drinks too much. Deflects blame to everyone but himself, but everyone’s got their demons. My mother cheated on Rick with a man named John Buchanan and got pregnant with me. Now, John dipped the fuck out. Rick knew I wasn’t his but put his name on my birth certificate and did his damndest to raise me, even after he and my mother got divorced.
But remember what I said about the drinking and the drugging? And the stripping, for that matter? Those were all sloppy, high-as-balls, glitter-covered Chekov’s Guns.
My mom married a hard man who owned, at the time, the largest and most successful strip clubs in Alaska. He partied with Hell’s Angels. He’s the kind of man that would hire someone to put someone in the hospital and then pay all the hospital bills just to prove a point. Next level shit.
My dad worked construction. 12 hour days followed by 12 cans of beer and fuck-all else. He ended up marrying his high school sweetheart, a soft-spoken Southern lady who had some kind of fucking demon in her. She is/was the most evil, horrible, fraud-committing, thieving, lying-to-put-people-in-prison doing, heinous creature I’ve ever met. I heard she has cancer. Good. Fuck her.
But yeah, so they got hitched. Needless to say, these were not people that could sustain a role in parenthood for long.
Rick’s parents, Jean and Dick Mayer, adopted me when I was 5. They were the kindest, sweetest, most genuine people I’ve ever met. Rick’s wife verbally abused them constantly, of course. Jean and Dick raised me as their own, acting like parents more than grandparents. For all intents and purposes, they were my folks. They forgave me any and all of my youthful transgressions born of immaturity or bull-headed confidence or spite.
I didn’t find out I wasn’t related to them by blood until I was 16. My mother called me on Valentine’s Day to tell me. It turned my world upside down for a long time.
Not because I didn’t love them. Not because I felt they were less family as a result of it. I had just had a falling out with Rick and now I discovered that, despite his absolute fucking failure as a father, he at least stepped up and tried where ol’ John had tucked dick and skedaddled.
My biological father didn’t want anything to do with me. We wrote one letter a piece to each other that year. I tried to visit him at home in Sacramento. He had moved. I have no idea where he is.
My grandparents passed away two years ago. My godfather had jusy gone right before them; his funeral was on my birthday. Then Jean went a month or so after. Dick went five months later. My dad was in prison. I was supposed to get his share of the inheritance for obvious reasons, but he wound up with it and spent half on legal fees. The other half went to the demon he was married…or divorced to. I lost track.
Losing my grandparents is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. The girl I loved left me simultaneously. That was the nut-kick icing on the cake of shit that year was serving me.
I got over it, sort of. You could say it’s been a process.
ANYWAY, my birthday is tomorrow. I have a date, I think. I’m definitely hanging out with some friends. I’ll probably drink a little too much and throw up on myself/the street/the floor and wake up with bruises in weird places and text messages to the wrong people.
Thing is, every year near my birthday, I think a lot about the guy who didn’t want me and how much I miss the people who didn’t need me but took me anyway. I think about all the failures I’ve had and how I had an ex who told me once that I’d never be successful if I didn’t go to college and who laughed at my dream of being an author. And how four years and two and a half novels lately, I’m living paycheck to paycheck and sleeping on an air mattress.
I’m saying I kind of hate my birthday and I miss my grandparents and I made you read thousands of words just for that. I guess that’s my present to myself.
I’ll be funnier on Sunday.