If you believe in destiny then mine began the moment I arrived in the backseat of my dad’s new Plymouth, racing to the local Doctor’s home office. My mother and grandmother were in the back seat attending to a baby that refused to wait. Upon seeing my quiet body and gray pallor the doctor gravely announced I had not survived. I had not entered the world with the usual series of squalls, but my mother insisted that I had cried, just once. The story goes that he swept me away and rubbed my tiny body so vigorously with alcohol that it seemed my skin would come off. Then I cried again and began to turn the rosy hue of determination.
The hesitancy to express my presence that marked those first few moments would be my companion for many years after. As a young child I rarely made eye contact with anyone outside my immediate family. I can still feel the solid strength of my mother’s leg as stood clinging to it when we visited more distant relatives. Recalling my resistance to speaking unless I was required to, returns the knot to my chest that makes it harder to breathe. I wailed only when I was rubbed so hard the words and emotions I took such care to contain, burst loose. Finding balance between restraint and release would elude my voice for decades ahead.