09 September 2013

The Kindness of Strangers

Remember that line from Tennessee Williams’ play, A Streetcar Named Desire? Blanche DuBois, spiraling out of control, reaches out to the doctor who is taking her away, saying, “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

I have said this to myself often. Initially as a teenager, I made the connection with Blanche because of her accent. It seemed the southernly way for the women in Tennessee. We quoted her and spoke in our thickest accents.

Later, I realized the tragedy of Blanche’s life. As a feminist, I understood hers was a life to be avoided. And yet, in my early college days, I played out many of Blanche’s foibles. Some of my anxieties were rooted in my feelings of racial inadequacy. Unlike the Asian attraction on the West Coast, most in Tennessee were more repulsed by me than attracted.

Unlike Blanche, I did find love from a young Liverpudlian. What attracted him to me was his lack of American male “Stanley” qualities. He respected me as an equal. (I always hated when men would open the door for me. Frankly, they were obstructing the doorway.)

Like my relationship with my adoptive family, I have noticed that I seek deep, family-like friendships. Since beginning my writing for the Lost Daughters, I see similar things happening among them. They are like sisters. Is it that we, as adoptees, have so readily accepted strangers as family, that it makes our friendships more complex?

Over the years, I have adopted additional family members … Kayla, LaDawn, Patrick, Alberto, Jules, Jenny,  Marlene, Kathy, Katherine, Adrienne and now Amy. They are my sisters and brothers. They have accepted my Blanche-like ways. Those who haven’t? Well, my adoptive papers show the darker side of my psyche:

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