The Unasked For

“You were born,
and so you’re free,
so happy birthday.

-Laurie Anderson “Born, Never Asked”


When I was in my twenties, I couldn’t imagine the classic indicators of adulthood we are expected to pursue — and wasn’t sure I wanted them. I certainly didn’t see an urgency or need to get married. Well, my ‘to be’ wife did, and before long, we were wed. Nor did I think about having children — and now I have two; a son, 41, and a daughter, 36. I saw no reason to have pets, yet at one point in the mid ‘70’s we had 13 cats and two dogs living with us in our small apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Oh, yeah, let’s not forget the chicken that my wife, Hana, rescued in Riverside Park. Chiccolini lived with us for a couple of weeks.

Writing about these parts of my life now makes them feel like an inevitability, but at the time I protested them strongly and vociferously. I’ve thought a lot about my robust capacity for resistance, and it occurred to me a few years ago that pretty much everything I consciously resisted, everything that challenged my sense of who I was and what I knew, turned out to be something defining and valuable. (read more…)