I met a gypsy outside Eldon Square one bright Wednesday. She put her lucky heather away and pinned me to the window of a jewellery shop; I was weighed down with the end of love. Every word that left her lips flowed over rocks and I was mesmerized. ‘Stay away from the surface, you will only be distracted. Your fate lies in the ebb and flow of the waters of the earth.’ She reminded me of a poet the way she spaced and timed her phrases, seduced her ideas and instruction into my empty carcass and I don’t remember leaving or arriving home. ‘The piece of the puzzle you search for is never the colour you think it is.’ Everything she said to me is imprinted on the front of my mind and I’ve been trying ever since to find that main river.
My mother was finally found in the arms of her lover, three years after their death. I was the one who wanted a real family, a birth mother to call my own and a paper-trail to prove my identity. I’ve got all that now, and family skeletons to beat all others. I wished I had photographs of this woman who had loved me for a month; she took the time to write a letter and stain it with tears – proof, she said, that I was created, and given away with love. I believe her, and know that she couldn’t possibly have known anything about love at the age of fourteen – my mother was a child!
We lived in the forest, she said; they’d run away from their families, knowing they’d be forced apart otherwise. I can imagine the wind and sunlight chasing through the canopy above our heads, and my father trying to light fires with damp matches. He was fifteen. This was my family, living a romantic life, starving in a strange, cold forest with a new baby crying, my mother crying, my young father crying. The sound of weeping would have echoed and slipped through the trees. At the first glimpse of winter she wrote the letter, carried me to the train station and as the train moved out she handed me to a woman leaning out of the open door window. How did she know that Mum prayed every night for a child?
‘Call me Tee,’ I said to the grandmother I’d never known, and she searched my thirty-year old face for the daughter she’d lost.
‘I’m sorry to hear about your parents.’ She hadn’t taken her eyes from me.
‘It was all in the diary, everything, and the letter.’ At first I couldn’t understand why Mum hadn’t told me that I was adopted. Reading her diary was like falling into an abyss and I didn’t know what to believe until the scrapbook turned up with newspaper clippings following the disappearance and discovery of the couple. I kept looking for the part where she told the authorities about me; she never did.