Tuesday, 30 June 2009
School was hard but an adventure all at the same time. By the end of the semester I was feeling pretty good about myself and my situation. I made the odd bit of money when the weather was warm enough. With Kim's contributions we always had what we needed. I never had to worry about that. The flat was warmer then it ever was.
Kim was permanent fixture in the house. We were a real family. Butterfly, Freedom and Uncle Kim. We would take the baby on strolls in the park and all around Boston. Sometimes Kim would rent a car and we would go to the beach or Quebec or Rodger Williams Zoo. If I could now only meet a man as good as Kim with out him being a blood relative I would be all set.
Thanksgiving can and went.
I got to know Kim's mom a little. She wanted to talk to me after the results of the DNA test came back. Kim had sent her photos of Freedom. She would say this or that reminded her of Luke. She would tell me stories of my father, things I would have never known if Kim never sought me out.
It seems Luke had commitment issues. Emma, this was Kim's Mum's name as well as Luke's mother's name, And Luke's Grandmother's name, said Luke started with the free love business when she wanted to get married after she found out she was pregnant. Luke just didn't want to be tied down. The emerging hippie scene that came about when Kim was just little. It offered him a lot of sex without strings.
An open marriage was the only thing he would offer her. This was not something Emma thought she could handle. She was a one man woman and wanted the reverse to be true too of her husband. This seemed very reasonable to me. I think part of Luke did yearn for that. The way he took care of me, the way at the end, I remember he wanted me far away from that life style.
Emma never called me Emma, she said there were too many to keep them straight, she called me Butterfly after I told her how a real Navajo Indian old woman gave me the name. She said it fit me well.
We would always end every telephone conversation with "You really need to come and visit here."
I think I just about convinced her to come over for Christmas or New Years, or did she convinced me to go there. I was never sure. Kim went and helped me get passports, just in case.
Two weeks before Christmas, is when it came, and early Christmas present from Miles. A letter from a lawyer representing Miles' mother. He was demanding I give up custody of Freedom to her and Miles, they said they wanted a paternity test, and after that they would fight for custody. It seems that Miles' mother had gotten married and looks real stable now. She even joined that hateful preacher's church. 'A good church going lady in a stable home life with a husband who are ready to raise the baby as their own'. Not to mentioned 'forced at gun point from your grandfather to sign away her rights'.
Damn, God, they go to the same church now. I wonder if my grandparents even know what she is doing? There was no gun, just Granny and a piece of paper.
"He said he would!" I screamed and cried as I threw the letter down.
"Who, what, where?" Kim inquired quickly.
Kim picked up the letter and read it.
"I didn't beat the git hard enough!" he was pretty upset as well. " He wont do it, he can't do it! They would never take a child away from her mother! They don't do that. Don't worry." He came over and wrapped his arms me. He stayed until I told him he could stop.
I wasn't as sure as he was. Before I could finish my thought a knock came on the door.
I opened it.
There was a woman in a business suit with a briefcase standing there.
"Hi, can I help you? If you are selling Jesus I have to tell you I don't need any." The only ones who dressed like that in this neighborhood are Jehovah Witnesses.
"Are you Dani Smith?" She said with a bit of disdain.
"Yeah and who the hell are you?!" I gave her the same disdain back at her.
"I am Ms Kelly from DSS. I have come to investigate a complaint about mistreatment of a baby called Freedom. It says here", and she pulls a paper from her brief case "That a black male was blowing marijuana smoke in the baby's face and the mother was filling the baby's bottle with alcoholic."
"That was Miles and his friends almost 6 months ago, I kicked him out of my house and life when I found what they had done."
"I have heard on parent accuse the other of what they do before. If this is true why didn't you contact the police or our department?" Again with the disdain.
"He told me you would take her aways from me if I said anything. He said he would have her taken away from me if I said anything or kicked him out." I was frantic. It was in my voice. Kim came up behind me. Put an arm around me.
"Ms Kelly, why don't you come in and see that Freedom is perfectly safe and happy. Now that the mother took the right steps in getting rid of the threat to her child as soon as she knew the situation existed." Kim opened the door and sounded so charming. I was so happy he was there.
"Is that a Jamaican accent?" She looked over her glasses and wrote in her book.
" No, Mame, it is a British accent. But people can confuse the two." Kim said with a smile. " I am the only black man here. And I am not Jamaican. I am 'Dani's' brother."
She again looked over her glasses and me then Kim and wrote in her book. She did not look like she believed him.
"It's true you know." I said "We both had the same father." She still looked like I was high on cocaine. "He's half white. I have the DNA paper that says we are, if you want to see it."
"It doesn't matter his relation to you, Miss Smith just if he is harming the child. Where does he sleep, by the way?"
"I sleep on the coach. My sis and the baby sleep in the bedroom, back here." Kim lead the way to the bedroom. He is smiling his big old sunshine smile. She is not charmed by it.
"So you and the baby both share the same room, Miss Smith?" She said writing more stuff down.
"Yea, she IS a baby after all, and nothing IMPROPER happens in there anyway." I am getting defensive. Kim keeps giving me the sign to keep my cool.
"She needs her own room. It is in the regulations. You are on public assistance, are you not?"
"Than they can provide a voucher for section 8 and you can get a bigger apartment with 2 bedrooms in the apt complexes they have. I hear they are nice apartments." She smiled.
"They are in the worst part of the city, I can't raise her there!" Why would she suggest even a thing, "I bet you don't live there."
'That is irrelevant, where I live." more writing "The apartments are up to regulations, unlike this place. You have to sacrifice when you are a mother." She spoke sharp at me. I was ready to kick her.
"She is very aware that she needs to sacrifice. We both do, as her only family here we raise Freedom together. That way she has the benefit of a father figure in her uncle. Thank you for telling us about the regulations we will look for a new flat right away. One with 3 bedrooms, so we can all have one. With me here, now, we can afford one in a good neighbourhood, with a good school system." Kim was taking over and leaving me behind as he showed her the crib the clean clothes, the toys, all very neat and organized.
She starts sniffing away like a bloodhound. "I don't smell any alcohol or marijuana in this room. But that doesn't mean anything, I find. The booze can be in another room, and you Miss Smith are under age to drink."
"I don't drink!"
Kim took over again. "Why don't you come to the kitchen and check for yourself?"
"Yes I did need to check the kitchen. Do you have at least a weeks worth of food?"
Kim laughed. "Sometimes I think we have a months worth, in case we get snowed in. I heard you people got quite a big blizzard a few years ago."
She was satisfied with the kitchen and the food situation, nor did she find any booze. She didn't find any on the living room either.
"Everything looks fine here, but we will do these surprise inspections from time to time as long as the baby resides with you and we find it warranted to have concerns." She said as she was leaving.
"If you turn up out of the blue and you find nothing wrong, what concerns would you have?"
"You are only 16 years old, going to college or not. Girls your age have a hard enough time taking care of themselves never mind anyone else. "
"Who decided is I am good enough?"
"I do and only I. And I can tell you right now, with an adult couple , the grandparents I believe trying to take custody, I am not trusting they will not win. You may want to think about giving the child up to the grandparents so you could get on with your life, you are so young yet and I understand you panhandle for money on the common."
"I sing and play guitar and people pay me for my musical talent, if that's what you mean, I am a musician." I was getting hot again.
"Yes, musicians don't always make the best parents, up all night, drug addicts, shady friends. You know what I mean, don't you Dani?"
Before I could answer Kim thanked her for coming and closed the door.
"She's going to take my baby way! She's going to make me sound unfit and the judge will give my child away!" I cried in Kim's arms.
The rest of the night I cried off and on. Every time I looked at Freedom I cried.
Next morning Kim made breakfast. He set me a place. I came in and sat down. On my plate was an envelope.
"It was supposed to be a surprise, but I thought it best to give this to you early. "
I look at the envelope.
"Well, open it or just get it out of the way so I can serve your eggs."
I move the envelope. He puts the eggs in my dish and I open the envelope, easing him a bit that I would not.
There were two tickets to England. I was shocked, speechless.
"Mum bought them, she wanted us over for Christmas holiday. I figured you could use some cheering up."
I put the tickets down. "It wont fix the problem, just a temporary reprieve from the fight."
"Sometimes we need at temporary reprieve to get our heads together. We can leave tomorrow morning."
"No time like the present. Anyhow I talked to Mum last night after you fell asleep. She agreed, it is decided, it is no longer a holiday, but we are moving back, the whole lot of us, Me, you, Freedom. It's time for a new start."
"But I just can't move there."
"And why the hell not? You have a whole bunch of stuff tying you here? Your family? Job? University? Because we have University over there, and when I said Mum's husband was well off, I meant big house in the country well off, Mum's already started making up the rooms for you and Freedom. Like the lady said it is regulation." He smiled when he said the last bit.
I threw my spoon at him. He dodge it quickly.
"But what of they don't let me?"
"Who? The tosser and his mum? By the time he realizes you are gone, he will not know where to find you. If they find you, do you realize how much money they would need to do an international custody battle with a well to do family? HUH? Baby, step Daddy has money and barristers on retainer. Now start packing light after breakfast. Just the things you could not bare to never see again. We will give the keys to the boys so they can finish our food but tell them nothing more than we are visiting your Granny for a month."
That was the best plan I heard yet. I trusted Kim, he was wiser and calmer than me. I packed. I gave Eric the keys with an open invite to use the place and eat the food while we were in Kentucky.
Everything was really tense as I made my plans, choose my things and looked around one last time. The next thing I know we are touching down in Heathrow airport.
I walked through the airport with my red converse high tops on, my skinny black pants and my trusty guitar. Kim held the most precious thing I brought with me, Freedom. A weight lifted off my shoulders immediately. It felt like freedom, it felt like death, I think it was something in between I guess. To quote Leonard Cohen. But it did.
We got a hotel room for a week to bang around London before going to Kim's Mum's place. We saw all the sights. We hung out with the punk kids at Trafalgar Square. We saw the most boring changing of the guard. We headed down to oxford street. Where I bought a Union Jack sleeveless tee shirt and a black leather jacket to complete my new look.
I sang some songs in the chilly days, I made a little bit, I wanted to bring gifts with when we went to the country house. They seemed to really like the old American songs I knew. Like this one:
Kim helped book me a a few gigs before we left, they really liked the old blues songs I knew. The dates were set up for the next year.
We finally went to the country house a week before Christmas.
Let me tell you about this country house. It had 10 bedrooms. And that wasn't counting the service quarters.
Emma was warm. Her husband, Aaron was hardly around as he worked in London and came back only for the weekends and holidays he didn't work. Kim's younger brother and sister were about the ages of mine. I was introduced to them as Kim's sister from America. They just took to me as if I was a long lost big sister. Everyone took to Freedom with a lot of love. They wanted to know if she could call them aunt and uncle, too. And Emma, oh how Emma took to Freedom.
Emma would watch Freedom so Kim and I could do our gigs in London. I felt guilty , I felt I was taking advantage. Emma said "Nonsense, child, this poppet brings life into this house. You are doing me a service to let me enjoy her like a grandmother. Kim, when you going to find a girl to marry."
It wasn't long before we were teaching Freedom to call Emma 'Gran'.
I never did get around to go to university. Kim and I played London every weekend for a while. We played blues, our own songs, Ska, reggae, what ever hit our fancy , really, and the people really seemed to enjoy it. We cut an album, small really. Small as it was it gave us exposure around Europe and we found ourselves away from home a lot more, in a lot of places I thought I would never see. Did I mention Aaron was a record producer, worked for a new mogul, called his company Virgin. He was the rock and roller of the yuppies.
We picked up musicians to play with us along the way. There is this Scott. He is always saying "Ya know Butterfly, ye are brilliant!"
It was a gig in Paris, 2 months after he kept saying I was brilliant before he asked me out to see Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde's graves. It was fitting our first date be in a cemetery.
"How did I get so lucky, brother?" Ian said to Kim
"Let me straiten your tie, Mate." Kim said as he straightened Ian's tie and handed him his sporran.
"Seriously, what great thing did I ever do to deserve this? I have been asking myself that all week." Ian nervously filtered around trying to attach all the accents you attach to the traditional dress Scott outfit.
"At least you know the right thing to say to your soon to be brother-in-law, otherwise I would have to knock you to the curb before you could marry my sister."
Ian looked at Kim like a deer caught in headlights.
"Mate, you will have to be tougher than that to be her husband. Just don't mess it up. I will always be around."
Ian smiled, "Right you are," He looks int he mirror and around at the very old Scottish church. "I am not good enough for her." He started for the door.
Kim stood in his way "Don't be a git and get down that isle, and just don;t brake her heart. She loves you."
Ian smiled nodded and headed with Kim, in full Scottish garb, down the isle were they stood waiting for the bride.
I am about to step on stage, the nerves always hit. Then I hear my husband say:
"Welcome Ladies and Gentleman. May I introduce to you, Butterfly!"