life story: on being born


Writer Wednesdays will act as a catalyst for my life story that I would like to start working on. Some I will post, some I will not. I believe that each of us should write our life story for our posterity and for others, but mostly for ourselves. I think we can learn the most about ourselves and who we are becoming when we write it down. This is me, from the beginning. Join in if you'd like.

I was born on a cold and snowy morning, December in the midwest. It was a small college town where my Dad was a poor dental student and my mom was carrying me. On a date that would later become my favorite number, I was born on the 14th of that month, at the tail end of 1988, the big hair and bright colors and loud music of the 80's giving way to the grunge of the 90's. And I knew about none of this, my pink squirmy body, yowling at the offensive light and cold slap of air and gloved hands.

I can't remember this entrance in the world, though I'm told it was fantastic. A laboring mom in pain from an epidural that didn't work, dropping heart rate, contractions and a breathless blue baby make up bits and pieces of my beginning. And then: a wavering cry and mother and child locking eyes for the first time. My mom describes this moment with just a smell. She says when I was put on her chest, the first thing she noticed was the smell of my little body: earthy, primal. A powerful smell, like nothing she had ever inhaled before. Incredible. Unforgettable. Binding.

I know only a few details of my birth. I know that I was born. I know the name of the doctor who delivered me, scrawled in tiny letters across a pink birth certificate. From this, I also know I was 7 pounds 8 1/4 ounces and just 19 inches long. A baby girl with a fuzzy head of dark hair and squinty, swollen eyes. Dark and beautiful, with a perfectly round face. I know this from pictures; Those pictures of a curly-headed mom with bangs, young and tired but happy, and a dad with a mustache and weird mullet.

I pour over these pictures of myself as a baby because that is all I know, really. Being born is my truth, my grand entrance, my first beginning. I came during tumultous times, though you'd never know it by looking. That's the thing about babies: they're clueless. The crazy adult life that their parents bring them into...well they're oblivious to it, only knowing that they need to eat and sleep and learn this bright new world. The parents go on living and you become the center of it all.

I don't remember anything of being born. But the pictures tell the story. I was born. I was a spirit and then I had a body. But my early life is a mystery of which I would love to solve. I want to watch it from above and feel the emotions in the room; to hear my crying mom, smell the impersonal odor of a hospital filled with warm bodies. I want to feel a spirit enter a room and watch the faces see the intermingling of divinity and mortality.

These things I don't remember, but pictures do. I know the clinical information, but the pictures know the story. They encapsulate whispers of memory. And it is from those captured emotions, frozen in time, that I try to glean pieces of my beginning, before they are lost.

And so my life started, in the mid-morning on a December. First offspring of a Brian and Lori, dental school goers, 80's hair sporters, and brand new parents. I was given a name: Elyse, like on Family Ties, spelled with a Y instead of an I like in Fur Elise. No middle name, though my dad wanted to adhere to the Armenian tradition of giving his first name as my middle (thank goodness that didn't happen. Elyse Brian Tavoian? puhlease).

So, it was just Elyse. And life began.


  1. This is so beautiful! Thanks for sharing!


  2. I love pics of your mom when she was younger. I love you cute ladies so much! You are seriously an amazing writer. I would totally read that book if this was a first chapter.

  3. I don't know why, but I always get so excited when I find another Armenian!! (Grantid, I'm only a 1/4 Armenian but still!) I can totally see it in you now :)
    Super cute post by the way! I never thought of documenting my "life story" on the blog before. So original!

    Glenna May



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