If Meredith Hall had to point to the year that her life changed, she would probably say that it was 1965. She was sixteen that year, and pregnant with a son. But more than two decades later, in 1987, her life changed again -- and that's the year she writes about in her essay. It's read by Marcia Cross ("Desperate Housewives," "Quantico").
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Modern love. The pod cast a supported by before the work messages begin to pour in let's gift ourselves a good morning, a good morning as a moment to pause and ease into the day. It's I meant to run and chase the sunrise or to gently settle in the routine a good morning. is a moment to be present to find clarity and be grounded for the day ahead. Good days start with good mornings and good mornings start with yogi tea. Yogi tea tease me, to do more than just taste good produced by the island, a w B. U Boston.
Oh the from the New York Times and WB. You are Boston. This is modern. The stories of love loss and redemption. I'm your host Magnetron Chakrabarti, the. If modern love author Meredith Hall had to point to the year that her life changed, she would probably we say that it was nineteen. Sixty five, she was sixty In that year and pregnant the sun, but more. two decades later in nineteen, eighty seven, her life changed again. That's the year she writes about in this week's essay it's red by Marcia Cross Marcia is best. For her work in a BCS, desperate housewives, most recently She started ABC Quantico and
to bread, series, youth and consequences. The call came in may allow thumbs said. My name is Ann heard. I work with the New Hampshire Courts. I want you to sit down. Your son is looking for you. I have been hoping for this call for twenty one years and it came like a dream into an ordinary spring day. We will take this very slowly. She said
this can cause enormous problems for both the child and the birth mother, but but I'm ready now I've been waiting for years. First, your write letters for awhile through me. It is devastating to the child to experience a second abandonment. I could never abandon him again, but it happens a lot. She said. Where is he? I can't tell you that yet. Can you tell me your name? I felt myself separate from my voice. His name she said is wrong. The sound was electric. My son haven't name your son.
and me, his extraordinary wrong is a spectacular young men. Three weeks later, a letter finally came through an there was a picture and closed. My first sight of my lost child. It was blurred and gray, but here was wrong. Serious, a strong jaw, intelligent eyes. Dear Meredith wrote I dont know what say I dont know how to do this wrong. His handwriting was slanted along the page hurried. Married his note in my pocket reading it again and again, as I stared at his photograph and called and said right back to ride away. He's very scared. Ask him some questions. Dear on my name is Meredith Hall. I live in east birthday,.
The coast of Maine, I have a son, Morgan, who's ten and a son named Zachary who seven we keep sheep and chickens and big gardens. Tell me about your Tell me about your room. Tell me about what you like to do. I want you to know that I have always loved you. An edited are letters for revealing details. They came to us blacked out. My name is MA, Blank I live in blank on the coast of blank. My wrong blank. I grew up on a farm in blank in southern blank, my mother and father, blanket
Our very loving and supportive are a ghost lives. Slowly took shape five months later, an arranged for us to meet. It was ten a m on October, temporary, tenth wrong drove slowly along my dirt road. He glanced at me quickly as I stood waiting on the porch steps. I could see blonde hair curls. He turned off the car cut out, looked at me and our eyes locked. He was thin athletic handsome, my son. He was not a child, he was a young man wearing jeans.
Sweater and soft or loafers. He came toward me crunching on the stone path. His teeth were brilliant white. With a space in front, my father had spaced, like that. I moved toward him every day for twenty one years. I I played this scene, I'd, never known what to do, and I did not know now. I was breaking with joy and with grief too, because here he was a grown man. Here I was nearly forty of those years lost forever. I reached for him held them to me a stranger, my son, this beautiful radiant terror
I'd, smiling son. We do not hold each other long because we were shy strangers to each other. We walked to the railing of the porch and stood three feet between us facing the river looking out over the coast of mean. I could not find the question that would start our life together. What I wanted to have you felt my love each day. Have you felt me missing? You have you known sorry, I am have you been loved? Have you been happy? Will you forgive me all I could come up with was do you like Unh? Yes, his voice was soft,
What are you well, I'm working my way through, so I have another two years his body was taught as if you were ready to fight something off his face was open his eyes. Enormous blue, set wide apart. He had a scar across his chin. very serious. He turned to me and smiled. Suddenly he had deep dimples. My brother had those dimples we smile. Then turned to the ocean again in overwhelmed silence tyrannical for a walk. I asked I felt deep happiness which stirred old sorrow into wild confusion. We walk down the dirt road to the river, blurting out every thought. That came our conversation leaping as we tried to reconstruct the lost years. This is the owl tree. I said
Morgan and Zachary are my sons, your brothers, I saw RON tense for just a moment and then slipped back into the rhythm of our walking. They find owl pellets here and we dissect them RON said my mother. Let me play hooky to go fishing with her. My mother, I breathed. Of course we were two mothers. We sat on and old bench above the Undulating sea weed talking fast. I knew he would drive away that afternoon and I didn't know if he would ever come again. He must have wondered if I would want him to come again. Sometimes we found ourselves laughing twice. Braun said I've never told anyone this before.
I climb back up the hill and I showed him the downstairs of our homie little Cape. Do you want to see your brothers rooms? I asked yes, he said quietly. He glanced quickly into their sunny rooms at their toys and books at his brothers lives. Here with me, where they've been loved safe, not given away. We went back down to the kitchen
Tuna sandwiches, we return to our stories the joy we felt right it that minute lying like a pond within our grief. Would you like me to tell you about your father, his hand stopped MID air a picture of our first day? I will never forget the image of his powerful hunger to belong. You look like him. I said he lives in Massachusetts. I was sixteen and he was a sophomore villain over university. We met at the beach. He came to see me after you were born for five or six years showing up never asking any questions. I watched him struggled to integrated information
into his twenty one year. Old identity. It doesn't matter anyway, was all he could say he. Let me hug him goodbye at his car. He calls on Wednesday and said he was coming on Sunday. Can the boys be there? He asked I was overcome by his courage. It was the beginning of our new. Amelie I ate with guilt about my two young sons, understanding that I was asking them to take in stride the effects of my Enormous history, they never barked. When I told them they had a big brother, they immediately
embraced him. They stood in front of RON at that first meeting and grinned they climbed on him giggling like monkeys. They studied every inch of him probing and touching pulling off his socks and shoes studying his whose and hands and back comparing their own. They peered in I'd his mouth Morgan traipse his arm over his shoulder. While they sat on the couch Zachary got in under runs arm. Ron came every Sunday, then for weekends, and then for the summer I was stunned by my son's capacity to include wrong too him part of me and RON took me to his family too. this is my mother rose. He said this is my other mother Meredith,
He did not call me mom or mom or Mama like Morgan and Zachary. He had a mother. He had a sister Tammy adopted when she was two. He had a father, Hank, astonishingly rose Anc welcomed me as if they were happy. I had come into RON's life. I felt as if I had stolen their son. Those months were confusing up heaving. Yet laughter often fill the house and we cried. We rested in our deep love for each other and then we would fly apart in hurt or despair. Some days we needed to be reassured sure that this was forever other days. We fought for our lives, the lives that had worked pretty well before. Sometimes we couldn't contain everything that had been lost. I never told my friends about this child
The grief and shame of losing him at sixteen had stayed with me all my life as a fiercely private sorrow now they argued with me telling me that Morgan and Zachary should not have to pay the price of my history. Are you telling me I should send this child away again? I asked yes, they said this. Isn't fair to your children. but an older friend disagreed telling me this is your son. Don't to them. This is a miracle. It is a fairy tale with a happy ending. Then it was October 18th again our first anniversary.
our days had found rhythm. The upheaving emotions were quieting. My friend was right. This was a miracle, though each day felt fragile as if it all might disappear. If we turned our backs still, our old lives receded and our new family held together. I had my son. He had his mother To mark the day, I gave him my small clay owl, the only thing I had from those devastated years after he was born. This is to remind you every day that this place in my life is forever I said, and he gave me an acorn, my renaissance. He said his voice, soft and hopeful. There were no patterns for how to do this. How to hold
each other safely and fully after a lifetime apart. We could not plot out the future. We were a family, we loved each other, we needed each other. That was our only map the Marcia Cross, reading Meredith Hall's essay. I placed my son for adoption at sixteen. Could we try again
we'll hear more from Meredith right after this, the Carmax gives you the freedom to shop. However, you, like you, can for a car online and on the lot, once you find the right car you can buy. However, you want buy online and get home delivery in select markets, or
by our mine entries, Express pick up at car max and no matter how you, by your car, comes with a thirty day. Money back guarantee up to fifteen hundred miles, learn more and start shopping at car, MAX Dotcom Car MAX Carbine re imagined. I landfilling my boyfriend and I often lay following these together by together I mean sitting next to each other playing individually and not cheating. Sometimes when I open up spelling bee- and I see that you have completed a few words on your own, I feel a little betrayed in sorry. It may have happened again. I have one friend who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words. Then I always get nervous. I sent it to my parents or something like that me and my dad. We like a sponge together, and I wish to out I it said see K, P, o t
Yeah now run nice I'm same as earth's sky. The digital puzzles editor for the New York Times. You can try spelling bee and all our games at N Y Times dot com, Slash Games, Meredith Hall's essay was published fourteen years ago, but the meeting she writes about happened long before that in nineteen. Eighty seven RON is fifty three now and Meredith is seventy, but she still vividly remembers her pregnancy. I got pregnant in nineteen. Sixty five, My family kicked me out. My public school not only kicked me out but wrote in my room. Screwed that I was expelled for pregnancy I not allowed to attend another. Public school in the state because of that people think that it was Well, it was the sixtys. It was not the sixties. In Hampton New Hampshire, there was a sad
values and expectations that were exceedingly tight and strict, and very judgmental, My mother was a single mother and I think that she just could not tolerate having maybe in the town, visible, shaming, her every day, and she told I had to get out. Meredith's parents were divorced. Her father agreed to take her in When my father came over to the house that afternoon, he turn to me and asked me who the father was, and then he asked. If I wanted to marry him, I was Sixteen and horrified at the idea and said no He turned to my mother and said: well now what and that's when she said while she can't live here and somehow between the two of them with me
not being any part of the conversation at all, it was decided that the child would be given up for adoption I don't imagine that there was any debate about that at all. Of course, over the years. I wished that I had been able to fight against that tidal wave of shame and had said something about can't. We keep this child. Isn't there a way to keep his child, but my family was not a family that was built to do them. Married says her family was determined to keep her pregnancy secret, my father, actually, he let me live there for the last four of my pregnancy, but he hit me in the upstairs and I was not allowed to be outside at all. None of his none of their friends knew that
I was even there in the house after. One was born. Meredith wasn't allowed to see him in the hospital not long after she was sent to boarding school. The headmistress agreed to take me. Providing. I never said a word for that senior year to anybody about this child. I was bound to complete silence with not a single person saying to me. Oh, you had a child and losses I'll, but Meredith loved School and she did well there. Her mother picked her up after graduation expecting Meredith to move back home and instead I never unpacked. My suitcase, I told her that I was leaving and I walked out and took a Boston, not knowing a soul in Boston and eventually figured out a way.
get a job and an apartment, and that was it. I was off on my new life. Meredith worked at a restaurant and a copy store while she was living in Massachusetts. She also started Dating a Harvard student, she says that and to travel together. They were supposed to meet in Europe before hitchhiking across India. right after her plane landed in Luxembourg. Meredith changed her mind about that trip. I don't know what happened I untethered and I sent it telegram to him at American, Express saying that I was going to go off on my own very little money with me and I very very recklessly hitchhiked through Europe selling the things in my backpack piece by piece and headed farther and farther east- I spent some time in Greece and in Turkey
ended up mostly in Syria and Lebanon had spent most of the year there by then everything was gone. I had sold everything I periodically sold blood I'd, get three dollars for my blood and it would buy a visa, and I just wondered I have a friend who looks back on all this and says this was my suicide walk, and I don't think that that's inaccurate. I was who filled with grief by then my father had also kick me out of his life or his. His wife did, and he didn't fight it over a very trivial event, and having lost my mother and my father losing this baby and losing my community. I think that at that point I just felt that I had absolutely no.
else to lose and that nothing that happened could be worse than what already had happened after a year. Meredith left the Middle EAST and hitchhiked back through Europe. I had asked my mother to provide funds for a plane, ticket home and her reply. Was you made your bed, you rest in it so I did beg money on the streets of Geneva and I managed to make. Enough money to fly back to New York and then Boston and am just picked up there. I lifting Gloucester for while and met a young man there and we fell in love. He wanted to build boats on the hosting mean, and I started living on the coast of me. I was very happy be married to this man. I felt loved by him and the the
front of that sorrow and laws, softens overtime. it always does when I got pregnant with my first child with my husband, I felt a joy that was imaginable to me and we were a little island of extreme happiness and joy during those early years During those same years, RON was living, one stayed away growing up in southern New Hampshire. His adoptive parents were support. it is in general, when RON at twenty one wanted to form a relationship with Meredith, but she says things hadn't always been that way. They lived on a very poor farm in New Hampshire RON was worked very hard from the time he was a small child. And his mother was very fraud
emotionally and could not protect herself and could not protect her children. So is a very, very dark and difficult childhood for my son and Somehow extraordinarily, he maintained that person that he is just a very very tender and kind person after they were introduced. Meredith's relationship with RON continued to grow. He really joined the family. He eventually move to mean- and I found I a piece of land and we built a house for my younger sons in me. And then wrong. actually bought adjacent land and built a house. They are so we became neighbors and although it was challenging to figure out the
emotional landscape. How do we. transcend the p in in heard and the I stand that an adopted child always feels about why here she was given up for adoption but somehow I think the depth of love was very profound and I think we worked very very hard and we managed to build a relationship that has been sustained till now wrong. Another of Meredith sons leaving California now or third son lives in Texas. She says they are all very close and see each other frequently Meredith's parents of both passed away. She says that they never seem to regret their actions toward her she's work to come to terms with that, but she d Some call it forgiveness. For me, the problem with forgiveness is that it seems to be predicated on
One person who was harmed another person who did harm and some how out of the great goodness of heart that victim. bestow some kind of forgiveness on the person who did the harm. I really don't like the imbalance of that. It feels faults and that's very uncomfortable me, I think, there's something more into acceptance. That is what I've worked hard at. I actually believe that the difficulties I faced when I was young with both my mother's and my father's out castings as
devastating as those out castings were, I think somehow they have increased my capacity to love and increased my capacity to feel empathy and compassion for other people. That's Meredith Hall she's, a writer living in Cape Elizabeth Maine. Her is called without a map and she's recently completed a new novel more after the break. This podcast is supported by the new Showtime original documentary. Cypress hill insane in the brain part of Showtime's hip hop fifty celebre
Jane Grammy, nominated group, Cypress Hills, unique ability to blend hip, hop and rock had icons from all over the map, praising them as profits of illegal we'd, weed Movement, Cypress Hill defied the stigma of the nineties and cemented their legacy as hip hop superstars Cypress Hill in in the brain, preparing this for twenty. Only on Showtime I love felling, blew my boyfriend and I often play falling they together by together. I mean sitting next to each other, playing individually and not cheating. Sometimes when I open up spelling bee- and I see that you have completed a few words on your own, I feel a little betrayed they may have happened again to I have one friend Who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words, then I always get nervous. I sent it to my parents or something like that. Me and my dad. We like to play spy together and I wish her out. I it J
A c k, p o t, Yeah now run nice. I'm same as earth's sky. The digital puzzles editor for the New York Times. You can try, spelling bee and all our games at N Y Times dot com, slash games, here's Marcia Cross and why she connected with merited story at first it was just dumb instinct that into to, and I think it's because I had an emotional response to it. But after reading it and and sitting it with it for so long, I think it was just the courage of both of these two humans to come together after and makes me cry such a painful journey for both of them one to ear. They both suffered a great
loss, so I guess it was just human beings at their most loving, most generous, its you back away and they went through it, and I think that is those are our heroes in life. Thanks again to Marcia for reading this week's essay, her projects include desperate housewives, Melrose Place and Quantico and here's Daniel Jones, editor of the modern love column for the New York Times, have rarely come across a piece the just has so much sort of going on beneath the surface and all these years of loss combined with this sort of yearning for the future yearning to reconnect and hoping that it happens, but also the fears of of how it can go wrong. Just that sort of twisted hope and fear and love. And connection
it's just so hard said, a team that out and the way that she writes about it using basic words, simple description simple dialogue and the thing is just like bursting at the seams with meaning and heartbreak and that sort of love of reunification Next week, Logan Browning, I stumbled across Justin's online dating profile while waiting for water to boil I just gotten home from running errands ATM mailbox, grocery store and just cooking dinner. before sitting down to work it was just for four a dot m? message me. If you want to talk about anything and everything until the wee hours of the night, his profile said The phrase wee hours as it turns out means different things to different people for him software engineer, with an eye for design who
well on an electric guitar the wee hours, are two a dot m, maybe three. For me, it's a little more complicated. Modern love is the production of the New York Times and W B you are Boston, NPR station, its produce direct. an edited by Caitlin Oki origin. Scoring and sound design by Matt Reed additives, our executive producer, our intern is Shemeah Loco, Daniel Jones is the editor of modern love for the New York Times and adviser to the show special thanks to Julius I am in an and annually at the New York Times You for the modern love podcast was conceived by LISA Tobin, additional music- courtesy of a pm, and if you love, the podcast rate or review us on Apple podcasts or tell a friend to listen. in the Chakrabarti, see you next week.
Transcript generated on 2022-04-15.