I was born in Sarasota, FL 082W31'51", 27N20'10" at 07:04:00 PM on September, 20 1978. I was abandoned at the hospital, put up for adoption. My adoptive mother and father drove to Sarasota and brought me back to Sebring (27.4953° N, 81.4411° W) six month later in March, 1979.
My mother and father divorced when I was four years old. My mother re-married my father’s best friend. There was a scandal. We moved to Kississimmee, which was always difficult for me to spell but fun to pronounce (28.2917° N, 81.4078° W). My stepfather loved hard and fought hard and their eight-year marriage left a lot of bruising. Some, still visible.
When I was 16, my father was killed in a plane crash.
I dropped out of high school. It was hard to the see the point in prom after that.
After college, I moved to England. Got a Master’s Degree. Traveled to Prague. To Paris. To Italy and later Africa. Was sent down the river and saved many more times by other good souls who let me into their guest rooms and huts, shared with me food at their table and under their Baobab tree. One family of hosts even renamed me. This symbol is tattooed on my back. It means: restless, wandering searcher.
I returned to America to work in government. Raises and promotions and one sold house later, I landed in Tallahassee. It was not until then that I had really left my father'(s) house. My love and I lived in a ranch-style home with pear and fig trees in the yard. I thought I would have babies in this house, but that was not to be.
Instead, I moved to Vietnam (21.0409° N, 105.7981° E), the restless wanderer who cast herself to sea to grieve that which she had lost, and try to find the father who lost himself during the Vietnam War on Marble Mountain. I did not find him, but I found myself, and when I’d healed, I set sail for America.
I moved back to America, to Winter Park, Florida (28.5997° N, 81.3394° W).
When I look at the shape of this map, I see a diamond and a bird. Diamond, from the greek word adamas, meaning “unbreakable;” The bird, an animal with a lightweight but tough skeleton. The diamond is a material revered for its physical qualities, as is the bird; just think of a white-throated Rock Thrush. The diamond has the highest hardness of any bulk material on Earth, which makes it good for cutting, but also for polishing. Birds are sensitive; some are lifesavers, used in the mines to warn of grave danger. A diamond is formed in high-heat, under high-pressure. These are all apt metaphors for this cosmogram, for my life. It has been an unusual life, colored by sadness, punctuated by violence and betrayal, with long stretches of grief as well as unspeakable kindnesses, faith, unbounded joy, moments of profound grace.
I am reminded of a poem by Mary Oliver:
…Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
call to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”