I recently needed to obtain an "official" copy of my birth certificate. I called each of my parents, neither of whom possesses one of these useful documents anymore, so I resorted to contacting the Vital Stats Bureau...but where?
I asked my 81-year-old Mom, down in Florida, and my eighty-five year-old Dad, down in South Carolina's Uplands.
"New Rochelle," my Mom stated unequivocally.
"New York," my Dad declared, definitively. "Mount Sinai Hospital."
Well, I figured Mom must be right, right? After all, she was the one who carried me above her heart for nine months and went through labor and delivery. So New Rochelle it was.
The website was not helpful, so I placed a call. I needed to send in a written request by post with my name, birth-date, have it notarized, to ensure I was me, and mail it along with a self-addressed-stamped envelope, oh, and the fee for each official copy to a specific address. Done. A tad expensive, what with the notary's fee and the fee for the document, but well worth the price.
A week or two later, I recognized my own stamped, self-addressed envelope. My birth could not be traced...in New Rochelle. Perhaps I had the wrong name! Or the incorrect date.
I called Mom back, peeved. She was fretful.
Very late that night, she phoned me.
"Ami! You were born in New York City at Mount Sinai Hospital. I remember the evening better than some things which happened to me yesterday. I left your Dad and Andy who was just 18 months old home in Larchmont and visited my doctor in New York City. Later that evening, I attended a performance of the opera Othello with my parents at the Met. You were sitting on my sciatic nerve, I was in agony. Then I went into labor.
"At four a.m., my parents took me to Mount Sinai Hospital. You were born at 8 a.m. the next morning!"
So, I have now made my request for my birth certificate for Amy Susan Brodoff (my real name, as opposed to my pen name) on March 18th to New York City's well-organized Bureau of Vital Statistics.
I am waiting. (Hmmm, maybe this is why Othello is one of my favorite plays and the Met one of my special places.)
This little splice-of-life burrowed into my mind. Why? I am fasccinated with the theme of identity. All of my stories and novels wrestle with this timeless journey. Who am I? Where did I come from? What is my purpose? Many of my characters don't have clear answers to these basic questions. Funny how I don't either. Despite the fact that I have living birth parents.
Hopefully, I can report back that I not only know who I am and when I was born, but where as well. (Because if it 'aint New York, there is no there, there.)
A New York City babe. I like that!