Thursday, February 5, 2009

Only Child

I have always been an only child. I remember as a little girl begging my parents to play Barbies with me, there was no one else to play with. Rainy days were torture, and I was a book worm by the 3rd grade. To this day I need my space, I like to zone out to my own tasks for hours at a time, I get irritated when people speak to me while I am preoccupied, I like to sit and read entire books. Except that I am not an only child. Before my Dad met my Mom he impregnated a young girl, he was only 20 at the time, but she was under 18. There were a lot of problems with her conservative parents, and the baby girl was given up for adoption. I had no idea until I was around age 10, one night at dinner my Dad just told me for no apparent reason that I did in fact have a half-sister somewhere out there. I remember being shocked and feeling incredibly ripped off. You mean to tell me I have been in isolation this entire time because you gave away my sister? I was too little to understand all of the complications surrounding the issue. In years to come as the internet grew my Dad would spend late nights searching adoption boards for my sister. We found out her name was Melissa and she had been adopted near San Diego, she was so close to us still, but so far away. I grew accustomed to waking up late in the night to hear the keys clacking on the keyboard in the computer room, my Dad hunched over the screen, circles under his eyes as he sipped at cold coffee.
When I was 20, and pregnant with JT, my Dad received an email from Melissa. She had been at a friend's house who suggested they check to see if anyone was looking for her, my Dad had searched and posted for so long, Melissa immediately found him. She called us, and my Dad and I, giddy with excitement, drove out to meet her that night. As we drove we were both quiet, all I could wonder in my pre-child self-absorbed mind was would she look like me? We pulled up to a dark home deep in Riverside, and when we knocked I cannot even imagine what my Dad was feeling. She opened the door cautiously, funny I cannot even remember our first words, or if we even hugged. I remember she was so sweet, and a bit quiet, but smart and funny just like all the Amador's. We stayed and talked for a couple hours, met her daughter, and learned that she was Catholic and a total hippie! Vegetarian-barefoot-lived in the Haight-named her child Summerthyme Breeze-hippie! I do remember hugging her tight as we left. I loved her immediately, and had to hold myself back and remind myself she already had a family. She even had an adopted brother, I was almost jealous, why did he get to grow up with my sister while I spent so much time alone? My Dad and I drove home animated, talking about everything, laughing that she looked nothing like us. She is light, with light brown hair all the way to her waist, her eyes remind me of my Daz's but other than that I guess she looks like her biological Mom. Her and I had a lot in common, and had become single moms at the same age. I just couldn't believe I really had a sister!

In the months to come she and Summerthyme visited once in a while, we even took a trip to the beach just her and I with our babies! I was so unbelievably happy, telling everyone I'm going to the beach with my sister, proudly, as though I had the only sister in the world. We talked for hours, about adoption, about our Moms, about "our" Dad who I never knew how to refer to in front of her. After all, it always hung over us like a shadow, she already had a Dad. Once she started asking about how old I am we realized we were only 1 year apart... barely. I honestly think that hurt her, I didn't know what to say. I just told her I was mad too, that I wished we had grown up together, and that both of us were ripped off. It was supposed to be us against them, but maybe that was just me being self-absorbed again. I even let her call me Oli, and called her Meli in return. I don't even know if she realizes she is the only person I would ever let call me Oli. While at first I thought we looked nothing alike, we realized quickly our bodies were exactly the same... when we pressed our hands together the length met up perfectly, palm to fingertips...

It became obvious that Melissa was afraid to tell her real Mom she had found her biological parents. By this time she had even met her biological mom, and spent a few holidays with us. She was hiding the truth from her, and none of us had the right to tell her how to handle it. Tish kept telling everyone, if she waits too long it becomes a lie and it will be so much worse. I don't think Meli would ever lie to her Mom, I think she just honestly didn't know how to tell her. Her adopted brother had found his biological parents, and not even kept in touch, and it devastated her Mom. Then the unthinkable happened, Meli's Dad died of a heart attack last year. What could we say? My Dad felt horrible, and didn't want to impose himself on her and disrespect the man who had raised her, who had stepped up and been her father. Summerthyme was getting older, we all began to worry, what would happen if she mentioned us to her Grandma? No one wanted to tell her to lie. Slowly Melissa began to pull away from us. We used to text message each other and just check in, I realized she had stopped answering my texts. It has been about 6 years since we first met, so I am used to us just talking every few months. She came to a birthday party for Daz in February of 2008, but this month she didn't RSVP for Nani's 80th birthday. We had sent an invitation, all of us had called, emailed, text messaged. Nothing. Finally I text messaged her saying that we are all worried about her, and to please just let us know she is ok. No answer.

At this point I can only assume she has decided not to see us anymore. She can't be part of 2 families, or lie, or hide things from her Mom. It's been too long, and she never told her, how could she tell her now 6 years later? I don't understand why she couldn't text me back and tell me her decision herself. How could she just cut me off after all of this without a good-bye? I can only guess that this was hard for her, and it would be wrong to presume to understand her feelings. The truth is I don't want to understand, I don't want to share her. I want her to be ours and its not fair at all that just as I had grown to love her enough to take her for granted, she leaves. I keep wondering if I did something wrong. We have such different views on life and religion, and had really gotten into it a couple of times, but thats just the way my family is. It's how we express ourselves and relate. I just feel I deserved a response, I thought that she would think our relationship was worthy of a good-bye. I just miss her...

I guess I really am an only child...

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