Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Resilient Spirit

Saturday was a gorgeous day in Southern California. One of those days that is rare here, it rained the day before. Now, when it does rain here people loose their minds and do not know how to drive or even how to cope with the odd droplets of wet that are propelling themselves onto the Golden State's normally sunny days. After the rain is when it is most beautiful, all of the smog and filthiness of 5 million people washed away to reveal clear air, greener grass and majestic mountains. I do not enter LA often, mostly to retrieve guests at the airport. But Saturday was different. I had no idea how different it would be.

Jeanette Yoffe, therapist and foster/adopted woman of brilliance, invited me to attend a one man show of another adoptee, Brian Stanton. I accepted the invitation because I wanted to meet Jeanette. She runs a once a month group called Adopt Salon and all I have read and heard of it was wonderful so woooo hooo I get to meet her. Another reason is because I was interested in this play that she spoke so highly of, Blank. I was and still am at heart a thespian and I find it incredibly courageous to get on a stage, command the attention of the audience with only you to keep them there, interested in what you have to say. Still another reason is that she thought enough of me to ask me to bring along some books to display in the lounge area, bonus! So that is where I was bound, Venice California to surround myself with so many folks touched by adoption.

Oh yeah, you've heard the song and it really does exist! Electric Avenue is home to the Electric Lodge, my destination. Bustling with energy as Venice is, there were tons of folks walking the street below Electric Avenue and it gave way to side streets of small bungalows and funky beach shacks. The Electric Lodge was a small but quaint multiplex of creativity that housed a dance room, a small lounge area that served as the day care for the event and a wonderful playroom that was draped in black with risers where the chairs sat in neat rows. I felt as if the day was holding some great surprise, something profound that would make an impact in my life.

Brian not only enthralled us right off the bat, he exposed himself early on with revelations that he had struggles with identity from an early age. I was so impressed with this man from the get go because I understand the grueling and heartfelt emotions he was going to have to endure in the coming hour and a half as an actor to answer the tough questions that he was asking. He played many characters that were essential, endearing and sometimes hilarious! He wound through his life story with amazing detail to how he felt about being an adoptee. He talked about how he knew young and a little later his mother, whom can I just say I would like to meet based on the portrayal that Brian gave us, shows him is Birth Certificate. He took the documents and realized that she not only had the Certificate with their information, but she also had the Original Birth Certificate with is birth mother's name on it. From there, we walked his road with edge of the seat anticipation.

Brian also visited the emotions of, for the first time ever, reading the words his mother wrote to him. Wow. I did not know how this would effect me. To paraphrase he said (reading from the letter)... "I have waited a long time to tell you how often I have thought of you through the years ..." He stopped. There was a long pause. I watched the emotion on his face, the body language he had .... not moving a muscle. I knew what he was going to say in watching him and I felt the stream of moisture hit my cheeks and I could not breathe. He broke the silence with ... "She thought about me?" Followed with a look of awe followed with a slight smile. I inhaled and smiled along with him as the small creek turned to a river of tears rolling down my face. I was beyond touched, I was completely speechless and my heart grew and grew and grew. To convey those thoughts (and there were many that followed this divulgence) with such raw emotion was just an incredible thing to witness.

I was floored by the end and stood along with just about everyone in that playroom for a standing ovation when Brian took his bow. I cannot say enough about this man. To expose himself and his journey with such honesty and compassion, humor and sorrow, awe and frustration ... I wish you all could have seen it with me! I had so many things on my mind afterwards, and still have so much to say about this amazing day but not the time to tell you. I will continue in the coming week with more on this topic.

For now I say thank you to Mr. Brian Stanton, thespian, playwright, teacher, father and adoptee. You are a man who was gifted with the ability to surrender yourself in order to help us all understand a little better what adoption is. Hats off to you!