Tess, struggling in a group therapy meeting to find a place where she belongs.
TESS. Being adopted . . . is about feeling like you . . . I mean feeling like I don’t belong anywhere. (Pause, embarrassed) I sound like I’m on Sally Jesse Raphaelor something. Let’s just forget it. It’s not important anyway. It’s ancient history. It’s got nothing to do with anything, anyway. It was bad enough not to look like them. But I didn’t even think like them or . . . (laughs) smell like them. It’s crazy, but for the longest time, I actually tried to smell like my mother. I’d sneak into her closet and wrap myself up in her old fisherman’s sweater just so her smell would rub off on me. But it never worked. (laughs) It was this blend of Chanel Number Five, cigarettes, and wintergreen lifesavers. It was sickening, really. (pause) See, how nuts is that? I wanted to walk through the world engulfed in a nauseating aroma just because it reminded me of my mother.
The thing is, I don’t think they ever really wanted me, which sounds stupid because when most people adopt a child it’s because they really do want one but can’t have their own. I think my parents adopted me because it was the right thing to do. Like they were proving to the world, to God, maybe, that they were good people. But they never seemed to want me around. I think they went on a cruise ship up the Nile three days after they brought me home. (pause, a laugh) It must have been three weeks. Three days wouldn’t look good. It’s like they traveled all the time. When I was fourteen they sent me to Emma Willard – it’s a boarding school. And then they stayed home. Now they keep asking why I don’t visit more often. How messed up is that?