Monday, December 12, 2011

It's taken 35 years for me to write this.

I've tried to write this post a bunch of times. Each time I've given up, either because I lost my thread, or my voice, or more often, because it made me weepy, and I hate crying. Tonight though, I think that I'll just get it out, and maybe a few tears, and see where it all goes.

This post needs a little background: First, my parents are retired Air Force. My grandparents are retired military. So are my uncles, my aunts, my cousins.. it's a theme. I spent my earliest childhood on White Birch St, a housing community on Pease Air Force Base in NH. I moved to York, Maine when I was 5 or so.

My genetic heritage is this: Italian, Welsh, Irish, Scottish, Norwiegan, Cherokee, .. and rumors of a little African thrown in can be verified with one look at my lips. This genetic throw of the dice resulted in my face, which is a face shaped face, and my skin, which is olive. My eyes are dark hazel, although most people would tell you they were brown. My hair is a frizzy, kinky nest of curls that looks dark brown or black, but is pretty darned red when viewed up close and in singular.

I look like everybody. Well, outside of NH or ME in the 80s, I look like everybody. I've been spoken to in Arabic, Farsi, Hindu, Afghani, Pakistani, Egyptian and every single flavor of Spanish and Portugese and Italian. Each time, the speaker thought I would respond in their native languae. I've been told I'm "exotic like Toucan Sam." and I've been told "It's great how far up the ladder someone of your color can come these days." I've been called a nigger, and high yeller,' which is more accurate, but still totally wrong.

What I don't look like, is my mother. We've come to terms with this, and now enjoy the looks we get when we announce we're related. I've got 4 inches on her. She's got red hair and greeny hazel eyes, and burns in two seconds flat on a sunny day. My mother is beautiful, and I've her genetics to thank for my blonde haired, blue eyed and tawny skin, green eyed sons. In black and white, we look like a family. In color photos, we look like a UN meeting.

There's the background. Here's the story.

My God Mother is of Mexican descent, and also part of an Air Force family. So, obviously, are her children, my god siblings. We all lived near each other when I was small. I have a photo of Sandy and the children, taken in the 70s, and that's about all I knew of them, thanks to the Military moving us all over. There are other photos, which show my christening, and I remember looking at those when I was small. I remember asking who they were, and my mother telling me that *this* was my god mother, and *this* was my god father, and *these* were my god siblings.

My mother tried to explain to me the concept of god parents, but I was about 4, and took away very little fact, and even less memory. What I do remember is this: My father was gone most times, and so it was just me and my mother, whom I looked nothing like. Here were photos showing me as a baby along side my god family, whom I had the same coloring as.

So I decided, in the manner of a 4 year old, that when God gives you a 'God Family', he must make you look like them, so you'll fit in later and know each other when you find each other. Because Mom and Dad, they know who you are, so you don't need to look like them. But looking like your God Family might come in handy for ID purposes down the road.

I spent most of Kindergarten and First Grade telling people I was Mexican. I believed it to be so.

Now, 30 years later, I'm back in touch with my God Mother and my God Sister, thanks to the wonder of Facebook. I'm pleased to report that they are even more wonderful that the fantasy I created in my mind all those years ago. My parents made a good choice, when they picked my God Parents.

And here's the lesson: It's not about what the color says, it's not about what you look like in black and white. It's about what you believe, and what you have faith in that counts. Always.

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