I Was Born In 1973 / 31 October 2001
This was before doctors had refined their public image, when they were still brusque, still heavy smokers, veined hands and the hair and the yellowing teeth. Phlegmy coughs and their offices dark, shuttered, surrounded by an obviously exaggerated number of framed documents, leaning forward and grasping the miniature brass bust there next to the desk set, saying I have terrible and unfortunate news.
I was pronounced dead twice before the nurse on duty finally gave up and decided I’d be OK. She told my parents that she prayed for my soul, she clutched the unbelievably tiny crucifix around her neck, so small it clearly could do nothing for nobody, but she actually got down on her knees next to the incubator and prayed and clutched, something she said she never did before, not for any baby.
“Leave me out of it,” my mother said and the nurse insisted on the name Joshua because it meant Jehovah is my salvation. The folks were leaning toward Jacob which means the supplanter, since Bible Jacob tricked his brother Esau out of his birthright and the blessing of their father. He then went on to sire the twelve men who founded the twelve tribes of Israel. This was the sort of life they were mapping out for me, those nights when they held each other in the dark, Colorado frozen and empty outside. Our son will not necessarily do great things, and he definitely won’t get where he’s going by decent, legal, over-the-counter methods, but he will spawn someone who will in turn accomplish something great. Do most women, heavy with child, start hedging their bets and cast their hopes upon some future and hypothetical grandchild? Downplaying any expectations at the last minute?
Doesn’t matter since the nurse prevailed and so there’d be no supplanting or siring going on, at least not on a serious scale. Instead: Jehovah is my salvation. Which doesn’t really say a whole lot about my character, like my grandmother signing Mrs. Sydney H. Green, her name entirely absent, existing only in reference to someone else. I was Mrs. God, or not even, more like I Heart God, a distant admirer, a fan. Having this imposed on you when you’re naked and defenseless helps to promote adversarial relationships, and that’s what I tell the breeders of the world, when they’ll listen, when I’m in front of a hot mike.
The nurse held me tight and kissed my fontanel and whispered You are a special angel in my good ear but of course how could I know that? How could I possibly remember the feeling of abject terror that hit me when my folks pulled me away from her, the cold panic as her fingers trailed along my fat, red arms and then disappeared forever? Surely I’m just imagining this, creating some kind of false emotion from a scent-memory, wrapping up in fiction this faceless young woman who asked My Salvation to spare me from the horrors that He Himself inflicted upon me..?
But I’m not. And that’s the absolute truth. And my life has been nothing but a series of absolute truths, each one as blunt and declarative as my name.