I never got attached to much when I was younger. That’s mostly because I was adopted, and even though it was official and legal and signed on the dotted line, I never let my guard down. Never allowed myself to get too comfortable. Just in case the family changed their mind. Just in case it would be time to go. Always on alert. Always prepared for what might come next.
But that’s not really what this post is about. No, it’s about appreciating everything I had–the toys, the clothes, the three square meals a day, the love of a family that thought enough of me to take me in and legally say I could stay. It’s about thinking everything I had was special. Precious. There was a Matchbox car I had, and I remember it clearly, that was beige in color and had moveable doors. It was a simple Ford sedan, and I treasured it. I took it everywhere I went and when I “played cars,” it was always the first one. The leader. The one that was in front of the “traffic” that I placed around the house. There was nothing significant about the car, except it was the first one I received as a gift from my new parents.
I was five years old when I was officially adopted and to celebrate the occasion, we went shopping for toys. And I saw the car. I mean, I wasn’t into cars like that, but I saw that one and had to have it. And then I cherished it with everything I had. Never really let it out of my sight. Having that special thing allowed me to enjoy my childhood, even while being on alert and ready to move if necessary. Even when I wasn’t sure if they would change their mind about me.
There were a few other things I cherished. The Superman pajamas and cape that made me feel invincible. The special bowl that my mother bought for me and made sure I could reach each morning to pour my cereal into. My first baseball glove that my father purchased for me so I could catch foul balls when we went to Shea Stadium to see the sorry Mets (I call them sorry because the team sucked, but also because a foul ball never, NEVER came in my direction. A pox on your bats, 1976 Mets. Blah!).
My childhood was good. After a while I conditioned myself to believe they would keep me, and that one day they wouldn’t wake up and suddenly realize that I had to go back because I didn’t look like them. And while I forced my mind to come to grips with that back then, today my mind has come to grips with the fact that my most precious item from childhood was them. My parents. My family. Their love for me. Their believe in me.
I was their car, so to speak. The one they put in the front of the line. The one they cherished. Looking back, it gives me chills, knowing that they cared about me so much, they changed their lives in order to accommodate me. They gave me the best of everything, and made sure I was whole, even though the whole time I wasn’t allowing myself to believe that it would last.
It was unconditional love borne out of an agreement that contained a list of agreements. That involved a contract that made them liable for my safety. For my soul. I was their precious item. That makes me smile. Makes me feel invincible. It really doesn’t get much better than that.