By J.J. Colagrande

03_sky-tyler7I came into being on the twentieth day of April, nineteen eighty-nine, at the Mad River Community Hospital in Humboldt County. I had no control over being born on Hitler’s birthday. Had no idea I’d share my day of conception with the Columbine tragedy. I’m born on 420, whatever. It’s not my fault, really. I had no control over my birth. Almost didn’t make it. I came into being with pneumonia, a neonatal pneumonia, passed to me during delivery. The first four-syllable word I ever heard, although incoherent, was streptococcus. It came from the mouth of Dr. Hunts, approximately one hour after my birth, as I lay against my mother’s bosom, pacified. Interestingly enough, the first three-syllable word to penetrate my eardrums was heroin and it came from the lips of my mother, Charlotte, about thirty seconds after my being. Heroin, a word from a woman who just gave birth for the first time, either a plea for some extra pain relief, or a statement of credit to what got her through the four-hour labor, actually Demerol, a derivative of heroin. Or, maybe, she invoked the word to mean heroine, after all, in so many words, isn’t that what a mother is? My mother’s not self-righteous, but she’s known for escaping, for taking the easy way out. Heroin or heroine. You decide. The first two-syllable word to grace my infant ears was surprisingly, Jesus. Spoken, not surprisingly, by my father, who for an agnostic used the word more than he thought and in more contexts he’d of thought possible. Jesus was the first word I ever heard. It’s on tape, that’s how I know all this, my father, standing behind Dr. Hunts with a camera, my head pops out first, and he’s saying it over and over again: Jesus, Charl, Jesus, Doc, Gee-zus. Kind of an ironic introduction for a future and past Buddhist. Wouldn’t you say? Trippy, right?

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