When I arrived the end of November I literally didn’t know a soul. I’d never been anywhere before and I had no idea where I should go or what I should do. Talk about being a stranger in a strange land! Try arriving in the middle of a bustling hospital and not knowing a single word of the native tongue. I grokked nothing!
Fortunately for me Otta and Libby took me under wing. The welcome I received was overwhelming and I don’t know what I would have done without them. Looking back, I guess I should have been a little skeptical, a bit more reserved, but their welcome was as open armed as anyone could ever ask and I just accepted the situation as natural. Two-and-a-half years later I’m a lot less naive than I was then and I realize how lucky I was to have gone home with the people I did rather than someone who didn’t have my best interests in mind.
It was tough being completely helpless and not speaking the language that Otta and Libby shared. My not knowing the lingua franca kept communication pretty basic between the three of us and to make matters even worse is the simple fact there are plenty of times when I don’t know what I want myself so communicating my desires is pretty hit or miss. In my new environment, I found myself crying a lot and when I say crying I mean wailing. In retrospect, it’s a bit embarrassing but, hey, there it is.
Otta and Libby call each other by a lot of different names and they have different names for me as well; Son, John, John Francis, Jack, sweetie. The list is long and I just have to play it by ear. When I first moved in they used to get right in my face when they spoke to me so it was usually pretty clear when I was the one being spoken to, but still, what’s up with all the names?
Turns out the house they brought me home to is modest but since I only had the hospital nursery to compare it to, I just figured our house was like everybody else’s. I mean, who am I to know what kind of living accommodations most people have in the heartland of Iowa? In any case, the three of us came into this little three bedroom and were greeted by Tom, someone named Fabulosa and a really frenetic chick named Quesa. With a name that sounded like cheese I thought maybe she had a terrible sense of humor, but it turns out Quesa is one of the finest friends a guy could ask for.
Up till this point I’d only hung out with people who looked a lot like me. Same skin color, similar shape, pretty homogeneous group of folks in the middle of Iowa, but these three were not cut from the same cloth. Two of them were really dark, black I’d say, and one was deep brown. One of the black ones and the brown one were shaped the same but the other black one -Quesa of course! -looked a little bit like Tom and Fabulosa but was just different. I’m not sure how to explain it but Quesa was the one who looked the least like anybody else in the household. Friendly sort, just different.
So Otta and Libby bring me home, we go in and I meet the crew. Tom and Fabulosa are a bit stand-offish but Quesa is right up in my face; a big, friendly, Iowa twister who demands a lot of attention. Otta pushes her away and tells her to back off and I’m glad because I’m starting to get a bit upset with all the stuff going on around me and I’m glad when just the three of us go to a room and Libby asks, “So? How do you like it? This is your room!”
I don’t know how to respond. I’ve never had a room of my own and here these guys are just handing me one and welcoming me with open arms. I’m still feeling a little tentative but so far this being born thing has gone pretty well. If this is what life is going to be like, then I think I’m definitely glad to be here.
Of course, as I said, that was way over two years ago, literally a life-time as I just celebrated my second birthday back in November. I’ve learned a lot since then, grown a lot too and I hope to share some of my life experiences with you. Just bear in mind that everything isn’t arco de iris and mariposas; there’s heartache in this world as well.