but i definitely became an adult at age 13. it was the year my body stopped. the year my head started. and the year my heart blew wide open.
after several bouts of scarlet–cheeked fevers, many hospitalizations and the bloodletting biopsy that-kept-on-giving; it had finally been signed, sealed and delivered. chronic renal failure. and off a gentle graze, one firm clasp upon the grandfather clock’s secondhand; the ticking stopped. and all was silent. through decsending nuclear ash, i peered into a world thick with gray. as my kidneys began to fail, my body failed to grow and i grew to hate a future that had vacuumed-sealed tighter than a nun's legs.
but then i started high school. and it was the 80’s. yuppie syndrome. more is more. bigger, better, LOUDER. i walked into grade nine english class. a glance over to my left. left to my own devices, indeed. i had found my higher power. my first love. the one you never forget.
this isn’t confessions of a teenage dream, a diatribe from planet of the "gone ape-shit"or my amateurish musings on jung's father figure archetype. but it is (un)adulterated amazement that these recollections can stir feelings so fresh, i now whiff at the dew drops upon that spring awakening bosom...
[author’s note: the word bosom is directly plagerized from “blanche” of “the golden girls”. righteous.]
in that fog of obsession began a lifelong commitment. to drugs. not to my beloved, codeine or her edgy, promiscuous older sister, fiorinol. but to my kidneys. i’ll never forget the date. may 19, 1983. my bff's birthday and the first day i ever swallowed prednisone. to describe it as bitter is like saying lady gaga likes playing dress-up. understatement. it was as unforgiving this morning as it has been every day for the last 30 plus years.
but nothing was more science fiction than my vague awareness that one day, i would be TRANSPLANTED. my only frame of reference was moving our perennials from our balcony flower box to our apartment allotment in high park. i had stopped growing at 5' 3". my height. my legs. my chest. everything. everything physically should have been different. but, i am exactly as i was at thirteen.
and so i gulped back the nostalgic elixir that was my niece and nephew this christmas past. and by past, i mean 3 weeks ago...43, 38, 13 and 9. this motley crue of 4 would often cruise the bizarrely barren streets of winterpeg, ever cranking sirius hits 1; much to uncle kevin's fine tuned chagrin [scooping? sharp? dude! it's rock n' roll! ]. me, omnipresent finger changing stations, t's incessant chatter, k's sustained rolling of the eyes and j's beautiful voice; cottony soft, padding our conversation with every lyric to every song...
[i smiled. i'm allllll about the lyrics....]
but, it was t. who simultaneously seared and soared this soul so recently released. with a sentence so simple. so EVERYTHING. so 13.
"i love this song!".
every song. every station. every time.
"i love this song!".
and i died a little.
because that was me. every time a song came on the radio. [when it was still radio ga-ga.]
and that was me. when i lost my body to a disease i still wake up to every day.
and that was me. who fell so hard, so fast, that her heart still flinches when she reenters that english class.
and that was me. whose mind awoke to a world that would not be kind, so she kindly better wake up.
and we sang together...
"my heart's a stereo
it beats for you, so listen close
hear my thoughts in every note
make me your radio
turn me up when you feel low
this melody was meant for you,
just sing along to my stereo..."
and suddenly, i wasn't 43; the fallen aunt, nine days out of rehab, swollen, un-covergirled, sprouting gray gardens, less than zero.
and always he would ask,
"auntie hen, are you going to a meeting?"
because at 13, you can fall in love for the first time. you can be diagnosed with a chronic illness. and you can be an amazingly insightful, supportive, intelligent, loving nephew.
knowing that i was completely off (kilter). and not quite sure how to turn me back (rock) on. but seeing, grasping and supporting what was charging my surge...
everything doesn't happen all at once, at 13. but when you handle what does, like t., you become an adult...
[and he didn't even need a party.]