Sunday, April 05, 2009

Coincidence of baptisms

Today is a special anniversary: Fifty years ago today my grandfather baptised me, giving me the wrong name in the process. Baptism didn’t have any legal standing, of course, and the certificate had my correct name, anyway. Since the only legally required item was my birth certificate, I forgot all about my baptism.

In the early 1980s, I was living in Chicago and one day I was going through a few old papers and found my baptismal certificate, dated April 5, 1959. By the time I found it, it really didn’t mean much to me—I was a bit young to remember the event, after all.

Actually, I should say that the certificate didn’t mean anything to me until I found it because I realised April 5 was also the date that I went to a gay bar for the first time (in 1981, in Carbondale, Illinois), twenty-two years after my baptism to the very day. Since that first visit was only a couple years before I found the certificate, I immediately saw the coincidence.

Shortly after this discovery, I mentioned it to a friend and he said the day in 1981 was my "second baptism." Maybe, but the second is the only one of the two that's possible for me to actually remember, and it's the only one that still has relevance for me. However, the coincidence of the dates of the two events is probably the only reason that I remember the date of either.

April 5, 1959 was part of the beginning of a journey controlled mostly by others. April 5, 1981 was the beginning of a journey controlled mostly by me, making it more like the start of my life than a "baptism" in any sense of the word.

I guess I was lucky that I found that paper. Despite time and distance, I can still remember the events of that day 28 years ago—and, thanks to that coincidence, also the date they happened.

Maybe I should schedule everything important for April 5 each year so that I can remember—or maybe I should just leave well enough alone. On every April 5 my life is different in some way, big or small, than on previous ones. I just wish I could remember more of them.

Fifty years and twenty-eight years later—again, to the very day—it’s clear it was the second event that had the bigger personal effect on me because on that day, in a sense, my parent’s work was completed as I began my own life. On that 1981 day I started to stop being afraid, though I had more work to do.

But it all began on April 5.

I scanned the photo above (taken exactly 50 years ago today), from a 35mm slide using that same bad scanner I used last week. I must come up with a better solution for all the slides I have, because there's only so much I can do to fix a terrible scan.

1 comment:

d said...

That's a really cool coincidence. :)

By the way - is that your mother holding you? She's beautiful!