Each night, a girl dreams of being back home in the kingdom. She can’t quite picture the faces around the late evening feast but it’s large and loud. Viking hats litter the table next to their owner’s plates. She’d never been here before, but had somehow, and knew that it’d be disrespectful of the men around the table to wear them just as it would be for her to grab food before grace was said. She waited. She was hungry, and excited. This was a big day for the village, she knew.
Her father raised his glass. “Amen! Now, feast!” and she relaxed.
She goes to bed with a full belly on animal skins and torches on the walls. She dreams in music. She wakes humming foreign words and foreign tunes, smiling to herself that she remembered. She thinks today will be the one when she tells her brothers about Viking hats and how it was before she lived with this family.
She wishes she remembered her before family although she’s sure about the Viking hats.
“You think we’re taking a walk,” my son says. “But we’re not, so please stop.” I wonder whether this is one of those moments when I’m supposed to set boundaries as a parent. After all, we’d left the house specifically to take a walk. But I’d said yes when he asked if he could practice his “moves,” an adorable and questionably coordinated (but awesome for him) combination of YouTube hiphop and Parkour.
“Please turn on the music,” he said.
“Roots,” (pronounced Woots) he replied. And so I did. He danced in the grass while gnats flicked around my face. He crouched in the dirt to Mine for a stick, and I told him that it’d be a hard one to dig up. “It’s a root, and roots run deep.”
“What percent deep?” he said.
“Mega Google percent deep deep, under houses and rivers everywhere. Roots are like a web all around the planet,” I said. He poked at it further.
“Really?” he said. He looked like he might not believe me.
What does adoption feel like? I wonder how my childhood is different from his because of my dual roots.
“I’ll show you a picture,” I said. We walked home, had dinner. “Did you know roots run deep?” he asked his dad.
I need to show him some root photos. I’d forgotten that there aren’t any trees in deserts though. I remind myself to tell him about deserts tomorrow, after school. I wonder about the roots there, buried deep under the sand. Whether there are any at all, knowing that there are because of the people who have traveled across them. Died trying to. Their roots.
The girl hears her mom say that it’s time for school, that breakfast is ready, and like that, the foreign words and tunes are forgotten once her feet touch the carpet of her bedroom. These days, she looks forward to riding in the back of Grandma’s station wagon. She wonders how she got here and forgets about wondering when she smells food downstairs, knowing her brothers will swipe her second pancake if she doesn’t get downstairs in time.
She sits at school, almost remembering but is too shy to ask whether anybody else remembers where they’re from long ago and yesterday. Her dad knows. She hoped her teachers would talk about roots and trees and families. She wonders where she came from, adopted.
“Today’s what matters,” she says to her desk. They’re learning about hearts and one of the girls is bringing a cow heart to class so the kids can see it in real life. She feels sick thinking about it. The cow who no longer has his heart.
Her desk is full of scratches and initials from kids who’d sat there before her. It smells like disinfectant and pencil shavings and that earthy playground smell. Of world and of kids. It’s her desk, and it’s not, because of the roots breathed in it before she was here.
They’re having a bomb drill, and for that, she’s grateful. It breaks up the day and reminds her of Viking fights and boar hunts and the smell of her before-home.
She crouches under her desk waiting for the teacher’s words. Her nose is next to the gray floor, so close that she could lick it and nobody would see. She shifts her elbows and knees, waiting for the much-anticipated drill to be over.
The floor is cold, and she’d rather do math.
She’s still though. She’s a rule-follower, afterall. Maybe even a Viking. She doesn’t lick the floor. She could, though.
“We’re safe!” the teacher says. It was, after all, the 80’s. “The Russians have spared us again. Good job students, and remember your training! Oh! And it’s the same for a tornado drill – don’t forget!”
Today, I am from two different sets of roots and have created a third of my own. I do not know how far the roots of my biological family grew from the ones I became a branch of. Under the dirt, somewhere, they connect even if only through shared energy and love.
I think about roots, and how I said “no” to meeting my biological mother when I was in my 20’s although I’d dreamed of her Vikings and of finding her at the local swimming pool for years. I knew I’d know her because her earlobes would be attached and her toes would be ugly like mine are.
I think about the day that I said yes, and how it wasn’t until I’d had my son, a new branch on this winding and complicated tree.
My parents asked what adoption felt like, and I didn’t have an answer. Dual roots, is what I’d say now. I think.
Today, my son is from many roots and many trees. With my biological family now known, their tree leans closer to the ones in which I was raised. My parents, my brothers, and my husband and his family. So many different roots.
A root soup of western Europe and, on my husband’s mother’s side, Native Americans who fought in the Appalachians. His dad finds arrowheads on his farm.
My son mines for ore and roots here in suburbia, and we tell him about his roots. We tell him about how my grandpa mined for gold and about how is Granny’s people fought with arrows. About how all of these are connected. About how while he doesn’t remember his Granny, her birthday that’s no longer a birthday is coming up.
We talk about the power of stories and our pasts, and we try to light the fire of interest in history in our son. We focus more on the future though. Or, at least try to.
Because while what’s underground is what’s holding us here, it’s the branches that create new life and new beliefs. Acceptance for special needs, different faces, and different roots. That’s really what matters today.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “When it comes to my roots…” or “Long ago, my family…” (or another about family, roots, and your past).
Your host this week is, as always, Kristi from Finding Ninee (future co-hosting is available if you join our FB group).