Thursday, July 11, 2019

Anarchy in the DNA!

"Anarchy for the U.K. (DNA)
It's coming sometime and maybe
I give a wrong time, stop a traffic line
Your future dream has sure been seen through...."

Excerpt from "Anarchy in the UK"
Performed by The Sex Pistols
Written by Glen Matlock, John Lydon, Paul Thomas Cook, Stephen Philip Jones 
Copyright © BMG Rights Management US, LLC

When we last spoke, my girlfriend and I were about to enter the Lion's den and feeling like chum anyway, I decided to bring up all of the paper research with me in the event that anyone dare to speak about it. This was Thanksgiving, how bad can it be? My girlfriend and I stayed at my father's sister's house (aka "aunt") and dinner was to be held at her daughter's house (aka "cousin's house) one town over. I speak cryptically because while my aunt was always kind to me, I never really knew her three children as they were all quite older than I. I think the youngest is 15 years older, and the oldest is perhaps 22 years my senior. The middle cousin is the one whom I felt the most connected to in the abstract. He was a journalist (as was my father) and had traveled extensively holding a world view which I appreciated. Unfortunately, he was not to be there for the dinner. The rest of the family living in Vermont were to be present, especially my grandmother and my uncle Ruby. I loved uncle Ruby as we share the same birthday, and by virtue of that, he understood me in the most basic of ways of which my own father could not. I did not know uncle as well as I would have liked, but when families live far apart, one of the outfalls is connectivity. We did not have computers, we were only allowed to make long distance phone calls on special occasions, and we saw them two times a year. Not much sharing under those circumstances. I always felt like a stranger in their homes, not because of their countenance, but perhaps for that of my own.

As I previously alluded to, my upbringing was not a happy one. When a child's spirit is broken at an early age, defense mechanisms kick in and sometimes they can be unruly. I displayed all kinds of trauma related responses, but my best weapon was constructing fantasy-I escaped. With only one sibling who is six years my senior, I was alone a lot. A boy certainly sharpens their hyperbole when left to their own devices. For your benefit, I have pared it down as it is my endeavor to remain wedded to the truth.

Now, let's focus on my girlfriend a bit. In my real life fantasy, I was now living as a Sicilian American man. I had assumed the role in every perceivable way, learned to speak the language somewhat proficiently, learned how to cook the food somewhat proficiently, had dabbled in Catholicism and retreated (religion was never welcomed in our home as children), and had begun my training as a classical vocalist. So, I had the cultural bases covered and now I needed to seal the deal with gusto, and my girlfriend was the ticket to it all. Both of her parents were half Italian American, she was fluent in the language, had studied in Italy, and had desired to make it her permanent home in the future. Those were all attractive qualities to me, but obviously not the penultimate qualifications for finding a life companion. No, that came in her keen ability to steady me in ways that life had been unable to. Part of my early trauma caused me to lash out at everyone and thing, and to trust absolutely no one, and there were to be no exonerations of wrongdoing. Although I am still a work in progress, she brought me to a greater level. I knew that she would also be instrumental into my re-entry into my Vermont family given her mysterious ability to keep me in my boat.

It had been almost a decade since I had last seen my family in Vermont, and the first time since I had changed my name/identity. I am a very anxious person by nature, but at this point I was at a bursting point. I had in earnest been studying the genealogy of my father's family trying to make the connections from his direct paternal line to the rumored armigerous ( "entitled to arms") family in England. It was a source of pride for me to hold on to that, but I truly wanted to establish that connection as proof. I arrived with much research under arm with hopes of having a discussion with my family about our history.

It was Thanksgiving, and I was looking forward to a true Vermont feast. My aunt had taken over the role of cook as my grandmother had reached her 90th year and begun to slow down (two years prior she had a triple bypass, and three weeks later she was on her roof fixing the slate shingles), so to give up cooking was the end of an era for me and for her. We will all get there for better or for worse.

When we entered they all stumbled all over the place trying to figure out what to call me, it was very funny indeed. My stoic family, not very wordly was now met with the dichotomy of using an Italian word other than "pizza" or "pasta". It was decided that my new name was "you". "Hey you!" "You! How have YOU been?" I wasn't expecting a miracle, but you'll be glad to know that after a few years one of them actually called me by my new name. Yes, it hurt, but as far as I was concerned my life was anew.

We had a pleasant meal of silence and chewing, then there was some polite laughter. It was actually quite nice although I knew that they were thinking that I was nuts. Who changes their name?? Yes, it is an existential issue.

My girlfriend was affable and charming, a hit. I wasn't even worried about that, but in hindsight, she truly was my buffer.

Then IT happened....

"Hey grandmother, look what I have....!" I shook my grandmother's birth certificate with haughty pride at her. I was surprised that I could find such a thing on Ancestry, my new best friend.

I had no idea that a 90 year old woman could jump from a resting position with the force of a gazelle on the African Savannah, but boy did she!

"What have you got that for!! What do you want to KNOW!!!" her eyes bulging THROUGH her glasses (never seen that before!).

"It's you! It's beautiful." I cowered.

She retreated to her resting position with a green pea lodged to the corner of her mouth, and I so wanted to gently flick it off, but I knew better, I needed both of my hands for what I was about to encounter.

My girlfriend then found me later and whispered, "WHAT is she hiding???"

"I haven't a clue and really don't care....."

That was in 1999, and in 2004 when I decided to take the road less traveled, the road that would lead me home, the road replete with potholes, car crashes, bridge out signs, black ice...( you get the picture) was DNA testing....... 

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