Monday, March 02, 2009

Born Seaside

While there are plenty of mothers and daughters who talk every day, Mama Iva and I agree that once a week is plenty. Gives us a week's worth of events to catch up on.

So, last Sunday evening we're chatting about a social event my mom attended over the weekend. She's telling me a story about some lady and in the middle of it, she lets loose a key fact:

Mom: " ... so she's from Long Beach too. Born in the same hospital that you were born in, Seaside, which is no longer there but ..."

Me: "Um ... what? Wait, wait .. wait ... WHAT???"

Mom: "So, I was talking to her about her upbringing and it's really strange because ..."

Me: "Mom ... um, what did you say?"

Mom: "And she didn't really know her father so ..."

Me: "Mom! MOM!!!! Can you back up a little? Did you say I was born at Seaside Hospital?"

Mom: "Yes, that's right. That's where we got you but it's gone now. ANYWAY, this woman .."

Me: "I ... I don't think I ever knew that. No. I never knew that. Where I was born, I mean."

Mom: "Yes, Seaside. In Long Beach. In the Bixby Knolls area. It's gone now. You didn't know that?"

Me: "No. Never. My birth certificate is blank on that part. It just says 'LA County' so when people asked where I was born I would just say 'Not sure but somewhere in LA County.'"

Mom: "Huh."

Me: "Yeah."

Mom: "So this woman had a very different life and I ..."

And honestly, I couldn't hear the rest because I'm kind of reeling from this little fact that has somehow escaped me for 43 years. I mean, I'm sure they must have told me at some point - like maybe when I was 6 - but probably never followed up; as an adult, there was always this weird void of info about my earliest beginnings.

It made me kind of emotional for reasons that I don't fully understand.

I mean, really, does it matter the exact GPS of where we first gulped in earthly atmosphere? Does it say anything about who we are? Bette Midler was born in Hawaii and I still tend to think of her as a true blue New Yorker. Freddie Mercury was born in Zanzibar and I think of him as a Londoner.

Still, the history of my adoption has been coming up a lot lately in my conversations and I'm feeling things I never felt before.

After the call, I went straight to bed and dreamed about giving birth to a son. I seem to recall he was born in a Walgreen's ... somewhere, not sure the town.


quirkychick said...

My mom was born in Seaside and it always made me sad that it wasn't there anymore because it sounded so nice and I imagined it very old fashioned with nurses who wore starchy white aprons and those white foldy nurse hats. I would have liked to see it.

hotdrwife said...

From one adoptee to another, I totally get it.

I remember when mom let it slide that my brother's biological mom had in fact sent a letter or two to her asking for the baby back, that she'd changed her mind. It was an incredible piece of information, and we had to chew on that one a bit.

I think we are forced to reconstruct so much in our imagination. It's wild when a real piece falls into place.

Congrats on your Seaside birth.

ClizBiz said...

Quirkychick: Me too! God, you are good with the visuals. Maybe there is an old photo of it somewhere in all those Long Beach memorabilia books.

HDW: WHOA. These people have no idea what they are doing when they drop bombs like that. It sends the mind reeling.

hotdrwife said...

And if you recall, I met my brother's birthmom a few years ago. And she said she indeed sent a few letters, and my mom only once returned a photo for her. And she kept it all these years.

It was wild to know things from her perspective, too.

ClizBiz said...

Wow. Hard to wrap my mind around it all.

Fang Bastardson said...

I went looking for my birth mom too, about 15 years ago when I was flush (as in "flush with cash"). Long story short, the report came back that bio-mom had died either year-this or year-that, in either event too late for me to hook up with her, but for another $1000 they'd try to dig up more dirt. I decided to pass. If my quarry is dead, I figured, my search is over.

So I hang up the phone (they called me at work) and my boss asks what that was about. I tell her. Her eyes light up and she leans in conspiratorially and says, excited, "I'll bet she killed herself!"

Now the same thought had occurred to me, but I'm not sure that if our positions were reversed, I would have shared it just then with this employee whose search for his birth mother had just come to such an abrupt end.

Cliz, you know exactly who I'm talking about.

And full disclosure: I had told my boss previously about my search, and that it had already turned up the fact that bio-mom had done a few stints in the Giggling Academy in the '50s being treated for depression. But still, come on...

ClizBiz said...

Yes, I know the evil beast you are referring to. If only her own mother had taken such a route, the world would be a more beautiful place.

Anonymous said...

I felt the same way when i realized my birth certificate with my real name - the name I have now - is not actually my original birth certificate. I have another one, with another name, other parents, that's vioded after the apodtion was finalized, about 6 months after my birth. It was very strange and i kinda wish i had never seen it or even knew that it existed. Only other adoptees undertand that - such a small thing, but a huge shock to me.
- muffin

ClizBiz said...

Muffin - I totally get what you are saying. When I found out my original name - Virginia Wallace - I kinda freaked out. It was like meeting a twin you never knew existed. Virginia is no Heather Clisby, I'll tell you what.

Kath said...


The bottom just dropped out of my tummy. To finally have a place that you are connected to has to be intense.

I've been thru Seaside several times....henceforth it will be 'Seaside, Hedder's Birthplace' going forward.

Btw, the hospital where I was born? Is now a mental hospital!

ClizBiz said...

Kath - Just to clarify, I was born at Seaside Hospital, which is now gone. I know the Seaside town you are thinking of but - turns out - I was born in Long Beach.

Hilarious/disturbing that your birthplace is now crazytown.