My mother told me a really cute story when I was younger. Two weeks ago when she came to visit my new apartment with my dad, she repeated the same story. I love the way she tells stories, especially about her youth or when I was just a baby. She would smile the whole time, and she would tell it as if she were someone looking in from the outside.
The story was about how I got my birthmarks. I don’t believe a word of that story, but it’s still one of my favorites. She’s always so sure about it that I think she actually believes it’s true.
That time when she told the story, we were sitting outside of the beer garden in Harlem on Frederick Douglas. My father’s attention was on the big screens, watching a soccer game with deep enthusiasm. I was facing them with my back turned away from the television screens, sipping on a beer.
I’m not sure what I did, but it reminded my mother of my birthmarks. It may be because one of them is right on my face. Sometimes, she looks at me with such pride and love. She stares at me, almost making me feel uncomfortable. She doesn’t stop staring until she compliments me. She always talks about how she loves my complexion. Or my big bright eyes, and how they remind her of my great grandmother’s. Or how I have the best smile with the nicest lips. My mother just thinks I’m incredible. Sometimes, it scares me because I feel like I have to live up to her perception of me. (I will go about why she thinks of me the way she does in a later post. My opinion at least…)
The story she told me about my birthmarks (although it sounds better in Kreyol )goes like this:
There was a blackout, and I was pregnant with you. It was really late at night, and I was just craving for coffee. I bothered everyone in the house about going out and getting me a cup. Everyone kept trying to keep me away from it, but I needed it. I gently scratched my face to where your birthmark is on your face, and continued to scratch to where your other birthmark is on your leg, and that’s how you got them. You’re lucking I didn’t scratch half of my face because half of your face would have been darker than the other! Your birthmarks represent my craving for coffee that night. Du café.
When she was done, my father’s attention moved from the TV to her, and he shook his head without saying a word. He did one of these things Haitians love doing when they thought something was a bunch of gibberish. He sucked his teeth and turned back to the TV.
I like that story even if it’s just complete nonsense. Maybe I’ll tell it to my kids.