I was born on a Tuesday to a woman that didn’t want me in a small town in Northern Minnesota. I was born on the same date as my favorite person in the entire world, my grandpa Truman. He is since passed, 19 years ago, but he wasn’t supposed to live past the day that I was born.
On the day that I came into this world my grandpa was dying in the very same hospital. He had always had health issues ever since he served in the Korean War. I don’t remember exactly what was wrong with him on that day, I’ve only been told the story by him and its been so long now that the memories of his stories seem so far off now that it’s hard to remember the details.
My mother didn’t want me, she had gotten herself pregnant in Minneapolis when she lived there, she had moved to the big city from her home town of Hill City. Apparently it didn’t turn out the way she had hoped or planned.
When she had me the nurses took me to my grandpas room before my mother ever held me. Maybe that is why there has never been a bond. She was never the one who loved me the most, he was. He always said that I saved his life. The truth is he saved mine. The nurses placed me beside him in the bed and he started getting better. Somehow my little heartbeat next to his big one was enough to heal him. He wanted to name me Angel. My mom instead named me Angela Marie. The same name of my uncle Kenny’s daughter that none of us found out about until many years later. She couldn’t even give me an original name. It probably took too much thought or effort on her part, I’m sure she had more important things to think about on that day.
My childhood was one less than ordinary. My grandparents took me as often as they could, almost every week during the summer and just about every weekend during the school year. Otherwise I was at my small house on the hill across from the graveyard, or you could find me at my aunt and uncles home down the street. We moved into that house when I was very little. She had married a man named Bill, he was not a good person, he was not a good father. He was never my father. I wonder if he knows that it is my birthday tomorrow. I wonder if my mom will even remember. I doubt that she will and even if she does it won’t matter, we don’t speak to one another anymore.
Bill left our home on the same day he held us at gunpoint on our couch. I was so little but I remember it clearly. We sat there forever. I don’t remember why they were fighting, I just remember he wouldn’t let us go. I had to use the bathroom so bad, I was so afraid, and she held me tight as if she cared. She didn’t let him hurt me on that day. And when he finally had enough and walked into the back room she grabbed me and ran to her car. I remember it well, it was a white Plymouth, the front seat wouldn’t stay up on the passenger side and it would fall backwards. We didn’t really have seat belts back then, so it was always a exciting ride. Bill ended up going to a state mental unit in Moose Lake for a while. He also divorced her. I want to repeat that, he divorced her. For many years she lied to me about it and told me that she divorced him. When the paperwork was in front of my eyes the truth is it was the other way around. Nothing is ever what it seems.
My mom remarried another man and he adopted me. He won’t remember that is my birthday tomorrow either. He found himself a new life once they divorced when I was 13.
The summer of my 13th year we moved to the Minnesota/North Dakota border. My auntie Dode sent me a shirt that year that was blue with large black flowers on it. I loved it. It had a wide black band around the top and was in fashion because it came from Minneapolis. That is how my mind worked then. I wanted things from other places, I wanted the finest of everything. Instead we were living in a small apartment in Moorhead, eating potatoes almost every night for dinner because money was that tight. I didn’t have much, I no longer had my grandparents because they were 200 miles away now, I had my 13 year old self and a boyfriend.
On the birthday of my 17th year I had a daughter that was a little over 2 months old. She was born in July of that year. I was a baby having a baby and I tried my best to keep her. She was so beautiful, dark hair, dark eyes, skin that was tan. She was heaven to hold in my arms. Her dad had left us the day before she was born, and that was ok. By that time in my life I no longer grew attached to anything or anyone. Attachments hurt, and they are not necessary. My daughter and my grandpa were friends instantly. He would hold her and tell her stories about Chicken Little and Henny and Penny. I thought he would be so let down with me when I decided that the best gift I could give to her was a family that could give her everything that I couldn’t. He wasn’t. He told me that he was proud of me and that I had done the most selfless thing I could do. This picture of the two of them together is one of the few that I have left of either. They both meant the entire world to me.
And over the years birthdays have been something that I didn’t give much thought too. I didn’t really celebrate. I learned from early on that it was just another day. On my 20th birthday I was a new mom to twins. On my 27th birthday I was newly divorced, recovering from a broken ankle and the tops of both of my feet being broken in a domestic. I was starting over that year. On my 32nd birthday I met Mark, and every birthday ever since then has been spent with him. Ups and downs, no matter what he has always been an anchor and a rock for me. I live my life differently than most people do. I don’t put roots down, I’ve never been taught how to. I couldn’t do it if I had to. I have never been one to hold down a job in a office or a 9–5. It isn’t me. I am an artist at heart and I am blessed to now be able to make enough money to support myself, and have a loving spouse who I have learned to appreciate very much to help me along the way and encourage me.
My birthday a few years ago was spent in Las Vegas with Jeffest and Jay. It was one of the most amazing times ever. We went to the all you can eat mustard buffet. You guys have got to try that. And then the year after that we all went up the coast of California together in a Cadillac, driving up Big Sur into Napa Valley and then to San Fransisco where I spent time with Riley. Man, I sure do miss Riley somedays. It’s interesting how people come and go in our lives, who stays, who doesn’t. What I have learned is that those that are meant to stay, stay. And those that are not meant too probably shouldn’t have been there for any longer than they were. A lesson or a blessing. I’ve been both to many, and many have been both to me.
Last year my birthday was spent in Seattle. I don’t even remember what we did. I just wanted out of Seattle.
And this year here I am. Tomorrow is my birthday. I sat back today and thought about how much has changed this past year. How much I’ve grow. How the things I care about have changed so much. Who I am.
I can honestly say that I have grown with time and become someone I am proud of. I didn’t get a very good start into this world, but I got much better than some people will ever get. I had people that loved me and that tried their best to show me the path to take. I didn’t always listen. I’m a rebel. I learn the hard way because that is just who I am.
Tomorrow morning I will get up and surf the waves. I will spend time in the ocean, my favorite place. I will spend the day with Mark and Ninja and Thor. I want to go to Venice Beach tomorrow for a while, and then I want to go to 7950 Sunset to have dinner at the Pho place under Jaymes old place, just like old times. I miss him. I hate death. And after that I want to take in a museum, see art, cry a little in the presence of beauty. There is a Warhol museum in Santa Monica that I’ve wanted to see for a while.
Birthdays are funny things. We are supposed to eat cake and celebrate, get gifts and wish happy birthday to people we barely know on social media. Now we are supposed to raise donations for causes because that is what Facebook tells us to do.
Tomorrow is my birthday, and I am grateful. I have a beautiful life in a city that most people die to live in, a partner in this life that most people would only dream of having. I have a cute little dog and a bad ass cat. I have a surfboard and a career that I love. Not everyone understands the life of an artist, we are different types of people.
And I have my friends and my chosen family. I am thankful for them, and it is because of them and who they are that I am who I have become. I haven’t always used my powers for good, there was a long stretch of time when I didn’t know how too. I knew how to hurt people because I was hurt, I knew pain because that was mostly what I felt, so I inflicted that onto others. Somehow I figured out how to turn that around and try to be the light. I’m not perfect and I still mess it up, but I am proud of who I become out of that simple Tuesday morning so long ago on the day I was born.