Friday, January 15, 2010

Love and Hurt

This week has been a week of ups and downs, both literal and emotional. Literal is the ups and downs of St. Charles. I was a little late to the walk on Wednesday night, and boy did my friend make me pay. She booted up that hill like there was a giant, panting monster behind her that she was seeking revenge on. The revenge was justified as, by my own admission, I have no one or thing to blame for my tardiness except my own lazy self.

My love this week was the attendence of my first West African Dance class on the same Wednesday night I was late for the walk (I should never have sat down in between; should have just eaten my dinner over the sink). I had seen Moondance do African dance at a fundraiser I had attended with DoubleL a little less than a year ago when we were still fairly new friends. It was our first completely non-work related outting, and after a fabulous Ghanaian dinner, we sat at our table in the very front and watch this entirely white group of people perform African movements to African beats. It was a lot of fun, if a little odd, and we both agreed that white women with no T and/or A really shouldn't do African dance. Without the curves, we just don't move right. Well, we move right, we just don't look right. Chest movements don't have the same impact when there's no chest. Still, I was interested enough to have a look at their site, and I debated about joining their September classes but in the end it didn't work with my class schedule.

I was aprehensive about attending the class - it's a lot of cardio which I'm lacking - but after a chat with my friend, Maria who had done it in Spain, I decided to jump in with both feet. Worse comes to worst, it's only eight weeks. If I can do something for six weeks, surely I can stick something out for eight! I arrived early partially because I planned it that way, and partially because it took me about 5 minutes less to walk than I anticipated. Everyone else in that room, although largely of the curvy variety, was fairly fit. I panic at the thought that I'm going to be the only fat one in there and I will struggle to keep up. A few minutes pass and a women larger than myself walks in, and given the response from the drummers and the teacher, she has done the class before. Maybe I will get through this.

Class starts and we're all following Lynn, the teacher, through the warm up. I'm enjoying myself; it has been so long since I did any formal dance and the rythym feels almost addictive. We start to learn the beginnings of a celebration dance from Guinea, and I find myself so in love with the movements and rythyms that I'm pushing myself, jumping higher and swinging my arms faster. I did ballet for years as a child and I loved it. Moving my body in time to the music, creating stories with that movement, practicing to get that difficult move, dance was everything I loved in the artistic world rolled into one. My dreams of being a professional ballerina were never to be realised when I stopped growing in height and grew T&A instead, but I still loved dance and it was a heartbreak when I had to give it up. And now I was dancing again, except this time there was no need for a perfect arabesque or an elevated grand jete. My arms could flail in the right direction, no need to keep my fingers poised. I loved the freedom this offers as a dancer, that my body moves as it wants to move and no one is going to come around and tell me to draw up on this leg or extend more through that arm. I had found a new passion. I ended that class exhausted, sweaty and exhilerated. Eight weeks will not be enough.

I finally broke down and bought new shoes. That was another highlight of the week. It's not much but seeing as I can no longer see my socks through the holes in my sneakers, I'm very happy.

My final high for the week is that tomorrow I will spend this weekend in Vancouver with both my older and younger brothers. I will be catching up with some friends as well and just generally hanging out, and I'm really looking forward to it. It's the first time all three of us have been in the same place and legally able to drink (Christmas doesn't count, no one is going to go to a pub on Christmas Day when my mom is cooking turkey!) and as we get older we're learning to be friends in a way that only grown up siblings can. That's not to say we hated each other before, but it's a different bond once you're all living your lives instead of a shared life of childhood. I also hope I can get them to come with me for a walk on Sunday morning, but I'm not holding out much hope on that front.

The emotional low this week came tonight on a friend's blog from someone else's comment in response to a post about infertility issues and what you should and shouldn't say to couples in that position. I may never know the extent of difficulty and frustration infertility must lead to in one's life, I may never fully understand how heartbreaking it would be month after month to look at another negative pregnacy test, but I can definitely sympathize with what they're going through. I understand longing; I understand anger at your own preceived short comings; Ranter knows I support her no matter the outcome. If I could wave a magic wand to make her pregnant tomorrow, I would do that, but I can't. All I can do is offer a supportive ear if she needs it, lame advice if she seeks it, a couple of laughs when she wants them, and my enduring friendship.

In my mind, people in similar situations as Ranter would have more empathy for choices other people have made, but then I read the response from someone dealing with infertility just like Ranter who had a very negative view on adoption and I felt my empathy for her slip away, to be replaced with outright anger and hatred at her words and, by extension, her. Everyone who knows me, knows that I'm adopted. It's one of those facts in my life that makes me who I am. I do not view it as a negative or a positive, it just is what it is. I can not change it any more than I can change that I'm Irish. The part that angered me the most follows:

"The whole adoption thing really makes me angry. "You can always adopt!" is like telling someone they can always wear your dirty clothes. I am already a parent, and I'd go as far as to toot my own horn and say I'm a fantastic parent, to a stepdauthther. Her mother is a terrible parent. Her mother is also pregnant again. How is that fair? When I hear people tell me to adopt, the struggle not to reply with, "I'm already raising one person's mistake, I don't care to raise a stranger's mistake as well," is overwhelming. Adoption, for me, would be more like a punishment than never having my own children."

I read that paragraph and for the first time IN MY LIFE I felt ashamed of being adopted. Did people really feel that way about adoption? Could there possibly be people out there that changed their entire opinion of me upon learning that I was adopted? That I instantly became a mistake with that little piece of knowledge? Then I felt anger that I let someone I don't know make me feel that way. How dare she, so angry at other people's insensitivites to her plight, be so insensitive to others. To liken an adopted child to dirty clothes? Do you have no concept of what it means to love someone other than yourself? To put your heart into another being and know that no matter what happens, you will never get it back? That "someone's mistake" that you are raising is your husband's daughter, does he also view her as a mistake? Are you both so self-centered and insensitive to his own flesh and blood? If he does share the mistake opion with you, what would make his feelings towards a child you two have together any different? It's still only 1/2 his, just like the child her currently has. To my parents, who have never let me doubt their love for a second, I am not a stranger's mistake. I am their daughter, who loves them back just as much. Yes, I was not planned. Yes, my biological parents couldn't keep me. But I have two brothers (biological offsprings of my parents) who would struggle not to reply with a much harsher retaliation than I can offer in my current state if they were to hear your words.
My initial response to the post was to reply with the words "f***youf***youf***you" repeated over and over until I ran out of room, but in the end I replied as politely as I could while trying to get my point across that I thought she was a b!tch. Will she care? Who knows. I'm not holding my breath. Sometimes people just are the way they are and trying to explain a different point of view is like trying to catch water with a quater. My time might have been better spent trying to reason with Pat Robertson that homosexuality isn't wrong, but I don't know her so I honestly can't say whether she'll give a toot.
Ultimately, I am thankful that I was adopted. The opportunities I have been afforded because of it have been boundless. I will never know how my life would have turned out if I had been raised by a single mom, but I don't know if I would have had the family trips to Alberta and Ireland, the piano and dance lessons, skiing trips in the winter and camping trips in the summer. My parents let me backpack in Europe when I was 19, they supported me when I moved to Germany/Switzerland, and they encouraged when I went to Tanzania. I have had an amazing life, and the biggest part of that is because my parents were willing raise a stranger's mistake.

No comments: