I don’t know who you are that is reading this. I wonder if it’s better if you know me or dont know me. I hope to affect you with this story and I guess I want you to like it and read more. And if you do like it and want to read more I worry about that, I imagine that will be pressure to perform, and write more that you like. I feel kind of tense and I’m holding my breath. I don’t really want to write “correct” like with all the apostrophes and correct spelling and I just want to blurt.
This is a rewrite of a piece that I emailed to some friends… or a retelling of the story I guess.
I am posting this as a way to “publish” some writing basically for the first time ever. I am holding my breath about it. I’m basically going to retell the whole thing now.
A few weeks ago I went to Syracuse, NY where I grew up. About 15 years I had never gone back. The last few years I have been making a regular trip, once a year. While I was there I decided to look up Bonnie. I didn’t remember her but I had a couple pictures of her that my mom gave me. My mom said she had been present at my birth and also had taken care of me for a couple months, not long after I was born, when my mom had to go away. (I’m the first child in my family.) I could easily never have seen her again.
I knew Bonnie lived in the area and I asked my mom and my host Carol to try to get in touch with her. Both of them knew her. I was looking forward to meeting her but didn’t know what it would be like. I got the idea from Radical Honesty, which is a practice I got into that involves, among other things, talking with important people in your life about things that have happened between you, and how you really felt about them. That is my opinion of the practice, other people (maybe more qualified than me) might disagree.
My mom got in touch with Bonnie and Bonnie sent me a message and Carol said, “Why don’t you have her over?”, which I really appreciated. Then we did. We had Bonnie over for lunch the next day and Carol and I cooked some food. I didn’t know exactly what would happen but I was excited. I think Carol was looking forward to it too. I asked my mom to video call in from Michigan after we were all settled in for lunch. (I’m holding my breath writing this and not sure what to write next and I imagine I should write the “correct” thing next. And I don’t know what that is. I want you to be interested, whoever you are, and I hope you are.)
So me and Carol and Bonnie are all sitting there at lunch, and I watched Carol get out a photo album and she and Bonnie looked at lots of pictures of people they had known from church, way back when. More than 30 years ago. Around the time I was born (1986). The two of them hadn’t seen each other in a long time (maybe 20 years?) and I really enjoyed hearing them say to each other things like, “Remember that family? Have you seen them?”, and, “Yeah, I visited them last year.” They seemed warm and nostalgic and friendly. I liked thinking that this get-together wouldn’t have happened without me. (I’m nervous writing all this, imagining that I’m writing it “wrong.” And I imagine I’m writing it carefully, more carefully than I want to.)
Then my mom called in on video. She also hadn’t seen Bonnie in decades, I think, but she and Carol and Bonnie got right into having a conversation, like, “How are your kids? What are you doing now?” They all seemed happy to see each other. I mostly stayed off-screen (it was a little crowded for the three of us to all fit) and enjoyed listening to them catch up. I’m not sure if I’m communicating how nice it was for me. I REALLY, REALLY enjoyed it. And Bonnie and Carol looking at the photo album too.
Then my mom hung up, and Bonnie and Carol and I sat together for the food, and Bonnie said something like, “So, what are you doing these days?” which I imagined was not the biggest question on her mind, and I answered her question a little bit and then said something like, “Are you wondering why I got in touch with you?” and she said something like, “Well yeah, I am.” I was really enjoying our conversation already, which I imagine was unique and unexpected. I think I said something like, “I thought it would be good to see you, and I don’t know exactly how it’s supposed to look.”
Then I asked Bonnie some questions that I wanted to know about. I asked, “Did you take care of me when Mom went away?” and she said, “Yes.”
And I asked, “What did you do?” And she said something like, “It’s a little fuzzy, but babies that age sleep and eat a little lot, so I made sure you ate and rested, and sometimes gave you back to your dad.” And it sounded like sometimes I stayed at her house and sometimes I went back to my dad at night. I want to remind you that I was only a few months old at the time. I think that was a big deal!! And I asked, “How was it for you to take care of me?” And she said, “Well, again, it’s a little fuzzy, but it was fine.” I think maybe she said that she liked it too. I think she was surprised that I was here, with her, asking her those questions. She probably never expected to have the conversation, which I was tickled about. I’m grinning right now writing this. And I think she was moved, and didn’t quite know what to say or do.
And I asked her, “How was it for you to give me back to my mom?” (When my mom came back finally.) And she said something like, “I was probably sad.” (These are not exact quotes, but the best I can remember.) I’m not sure you, the reader, understand – I was VERY CURIOUS about these questions. I had a feeling that this was a bigger deal than I thought, even though I didn’t even have conscious memories of Bonnie from before then. (These are happenings from 35 years ago.) A bigger deal, that is, to meet Bonnie and talk about all this.
Then Carol had to go and Bonnie and I sat together and talked for another 45 minutes or so, which I really enjoyed and I think she did too. I’m grinning now writing about it. What a special person to be talking to! Then she said she had to go, and we said goodbye, and she was in the driveway in the car and it started up, and I felt something, and I ran outside to the car before she drove away, and she rolled her window down, and I said, “Thank you for taking care of me. I appreciate it.” And I think she smiled and said, “You’re welcome,” and drove away.
Then I started cleaning up the dishes from lunch. I was the only one left in the house. I was in the kitchen intending to wash dishes and I started crying.
I leaned on the sink and cried and cried. Sobs. Loud. Heaving. Shaking. I was surprised but also fine with it. I let myself cry. I felt kind of heavy and motionless.
I stopped trying to clean up and went and lay down on the couch and curled up. My sister’s music (Tickles Brains and Feet by Rhyta Musik) was playing on the stereo and I missed my sister. I wasn’t sure exactly why I was crying but it seemed important and good. I cried and lay there for about 45 minutes. In fits and starts. At one point Carol came back and walked through and I let myself cry while she was around. (Proud of myself for doing that.) She didn’t say anything but I imagine she noticed.
While I was lying there I thought, “I imagine I could easily never see Bonnie again, or tell her that I cried after she left, but I think her visit and my crying are connected, and I think it would be good to tell her and see what happens, and I don’t know what will happen.”
So after I stopped crying I called Bonnie, just an hour or two later. She said, “I was just in the middle of writing you a text message.” I said, “Oh? Well, here I am, so what were you writing?” And she said something like, “It was very nice to see you. … And I’m still a little confused.” And I said, “Well, I called to tell you something.” She asked what, and I said, “I cried after you left, pretty hard, for about 45 minutes.” (Something like that.) And she sounded surprised and said, “Is that good?” And I said, “Yeah, I think it is good. I think I was sad to see you go, and that I miss you.” (I just laughed a little teary laugh writing that.) I forget what she said afterward. Maybe some silence. I think she was surprised.
Maybe I’m not saying this clearly. I think this whole experience was a really big deal! In a way, she was like my second mom, at a very early time in my life. I imagine I was sad and missed my mom and so tiny and I’m grateful to you, Bonnie, for taking care of me and I imagine you were a good person to do that. And I can’t even remember clearly, and I still feel moved writing these words. I’m crying some right now writing this.
I could easily never have talked to Bonnie ever, and I think this is one of the most special and moving experiences I’ve had in the last few years. I want to give credit to Radical Honesty and Brad Blanton who started it, and I think without it I never would have even bothered.
Bonnie and I had a follow up conversation which I enjoyed (on the phone) and then I wrote a draft of this story and showed it to a few Radical Honesty practitioners and to Carol and my mom, who are also in the story, for their approval. This is a rewrite and, Carol, Mom, and Bonnie, I hope y’all will be OK with what I wrote here. I care about how you feel about it and I also really want to put it out there and see how other people respond! How you, the reader, respond! I wonder if anyone will care and this is a nice thing for me to get over, to finally “publish” a piece of writing. Even on Facebook. God, I am relieved to have written this and to be clicking “Post” in a second!
Written by Geoff Grecynski
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