My mother, Lesley White, met my father, Timothy Conrad, in 1967 in Roseburg, Oregon. She was fourteen, and he was twenty-three. He was in a band called Tomb and the Bluebirds, and she thought he was cool. He probably was, according to the culture back then. He was a rebel, a guitar player, and an outspoken hippie. He was what inspired my mother to change her name to Glacia Bird when she was older.
Lesley first met him at a Halloween concert. She had been decked in all orange, everything from her underwear to her toenails. She was behind the stage, begging for marijuana from members of bands that were undoubtedly less-cool than Tomb and the Bluebirds. My father sauntered up and said, "You don't need weed to get high, baby. Let the music move you." My father has always been a peaceful person. Unlike most people his age back then, he saw the effects of marijuana as bad and decided it wasn't worth his time.
As a reward for giving up the search for weed, Timothy gave her a "backstage pass", meaning he let her hang out with him after the show. When my parents first told me this story, I was surprised to find that they did not end up making out in his car, and he did not talk about himself, the band, or some great spirit in the sky. He did, however, play her a special song on his guitar, which was conveniently named Birds. (the other guitar in the band was named Blue) It was a song that had no words, and no other soul on earth had ever heard it. It lulled Lesley to sleep, and so he called it Lullaby. He drove her home, gave her a kiss on the cheek, and left her with the words, "You're the music that gets me high, baby."
They didn't see each other again until the next February, when Tomb and the Bluebirds held an Anti-Valentine's Day concert. It was then that their long courtship began, much to the dismay of the rest of the band. They believed in free love, and hoped every day that something would come between Timothy and Lesley. But nothing did.
The only member of the band who tolerated them was the lead guitarist Tomb, pronounced 'Tom', and when the band was about to go on tour he invited Lesley to be the lead female vocalist. She agreed, of course, and set off. The only proof of her existence at home was a short letter left on her parents' door that read, "Remember Timothy who drove me home after the concert in October? You probably don't. But I'm going on tour with him and his band. I'm the lead female vocalist. (I think that means singer.) The band is called Tomb and the Bluebirds, so if you have the chance, come see us play. Love you lots, Your Little Lesley. PS- Timothy is my boyfriend now, so don’t be surprised if we kiss onstage. But don’t worry, I won’t have sex."
Tomb and the Bluebirds went on tour for three years. During those three years, it was not uncommon for Lesley and Timothy to share a drink, a kiss, or even a bed. But they never went beyond that. The other band members never heard bed springs squeak, or thumps on the wall. They even snuck inside their room sometimes, just to be sure if anything was going on. Tomb called them conservative liberals, who believed in freedom but also believed in caution.
When the tour was over, they returned to Roseburg. They performed one last show, and it was there that Lesley’s parents showed up to meet Timothy. They did not gasp in shock when Timothy kissed her during the last song, or shake their heads when they saw she had dyed her hair red. Nor did they make awkward conversation when Timothy finally introduced himself.
My grandfather asked him three questions. One, “Timothy, Have you been having sex with my daughter?” He answered, “No, Mr. White. We’re not married.” Two, “Do you desire to have sex with my daughter?” He answered, “Eventually, Mr. White. When we’re married.” And three, “And do you plan to marry my daughter?” He replied, “Yes, Mr. White. When she’s eighteen.” My grandfather smiled, and gave Timothy a rough hug. My grandmother kissed his cheek and said, “Welcome to the family.” Timothy replied with a grin, “Thank you, Mrs. White.”
Tomb and the Bluebirds performed local shows for another year and a half, until my parents got married. Everyone but Tomb believed that marriage was against their free love philosophy, and that the fans wouldn’t like it. So the band split up. Tomb and his drummer became simply Tomb, and my parents formed their own band called The Bluebirds. Tomb moved away to someplace in California, while Lesley and Timothy began to settle down.
A year into their marriage, they decided to change their names. My mother became Glacia Birch, and my father became Timber Eureka. Glacia had considering taking my father’s last name, as well, but thought it would make her more unique if she had her own. This, of course, only caused more trouble for me later on.
Not long after they changed their names, Glacia became pregnant with me. She and Timber continued to do local shows and were very successful. But she began to have contractions four months before I was due, and was ordered to stay in bed. My mother tells me she didn’t like the idea of being dependent on her husband, not only because it wasn’t how she wanted to live, but it was much too hot to stay in bed all day with only the liberty to go to the bathroom alone. But she didn’t mind when he made her ice tea and held her in the afternoons, or when he put her to sleep with Lullaby at night.
One warm September evening, I was born. It took six hours and twenty-nine minutes, but they finally pulled me through. Compared to how long it took them to decide on a name, though, the labor was short. For eight long days they thought about names and came to many conclusions before deciding on just one. Glacia finally decided that I should be a saint of some sort, because I was born on a Sunday. My father decided that I should be called Lullaby, because it was the song that he played to me before I came into the world.
In my opinion, Saint Lullaby is a horrible name for a boy, but it was their decision. I really had no say in the matter. I had no impact on how my parents met, and I don’t know why they had to give me a unique name. All I know is that they are the source of all my problems, because unlike them, love and peace don’t make me high.
Neither does weed.
Neither does music.
I learned at a very young age that I loved to fight. My parents tell me that as a baby, I used my fists for everything. I sucked on a fist in my sleep rather than a thumb. I loved to beat the ground, splash in my bathwater, pet the dog, everything—with my tiny fists. Obviously, this was hard for my parents.
Every parent tries to teach their child not to hit. But for Glacia and Timber, it was much harder. They were hippies, for Pete’s sake, they believed that peace was the answer to everything and that fighting was the root of all evil. It didn’t help that I was—according to them—a problem child. I remember being put in time out, forced to keep my hands flat on my knees. I would stare down at my hands with tear-filled eyes, trying to understand why it was so wrong to use my fists for everything.
My fist problem included school, as well. But it didn’t have to. My first day of school, the teacher sat me down and asked my name. I looked up at her and said clearly, “Saint Lullaby.”
She scrunched up her nose. “I’m sorry… saint what?”
I scowled. “Saint Lullaby! Saint Lullaby Bird-Eureka!” Not only had my parents given me an awful first name, but they thought I should have both of their last names as well. My situation was growing worse very quickly.
“You’re making this up. If you tell me what your real name is, I won’t send you to the office.”
“But that is my real name.”
The teacher put on what I soon came to know as her “angry face” and pulled me out of my chair. “I will not tolerate liars in my classroom. I’m sorry you’re starting out school so badly, but I’m going to have to take you to the office.” Of course, she didn’t think of looking on the roster to see if I was telling the truth or not. She just declared me a liar. The principal, however, who saw me only after an hour of sitting in the office, told my teacher to look at the roster.
During the first recess of the day, my teacher—her name was Mrs. Hansen—called me aside. She asked me if I had any nicknames. I told her that most people called me either Lullaby or just plain Saint. Mrs. Hansen decided that it wouldn’t do to call me Lullaby, it would evoke horrible teasing. So I became Saint. It was printed on all my report cards, scribbled at the bottom of my Crayola masterpieces.
The second recess of the day I was allowed to go and play outside. At first, the other kids paid me no attention. I went on the swings by myself, went down the slide, played in the sand. The only person who noticed me the whole day was a little girl. She was wearing a big purple coat, I remember that. Her name was Ophelia. She sat down in the sand with me, and began to build her own castle. She asked me absently, “What’s your name?”
I paused. “Well… my real name is Saint Lullaby Bird-Eureka. But the teacher says my name is Saint now. But… you can call me Lullaby if you want.” Ophelia thought that was the best thing that had ever happened to her, that she was the only one allowed to call me Lullaby. So she told her friends. All of them.
Near the end of that recess, a couple of her friends walked up. They introduced themselves with proud gazes. “We’re Mack and Jimmy. And we don’t like your name. We think it’s stuuuupid.” Well, they weren’t proud for long, because my fists flew.
The first day of school was only the beginning of my trips to the office. All through elementary school, I got in trouble for fighting. But it wasn’t always because of my name. Sure, my name was the root of it all. Several times Mack and Jimmy decided to start calling me demon because I liked to fight. They said Saint wasn’t a very good name for a fighter. Later on, they and their other friends made jokes about my parents. But I could stand that.
There was only one thing that really set me off, and that was when people teased Ophelia about being my friend. Until about third grade, she was the only friend I had. People encouraged her to make fun of me, and told her that she was too good for me. But what I loved about Ophelia was that she was a very loyal person. The people that tried to influence her weren’t her friends very long after she met me, so their opinions didn’t matter much. But they still goaded her on, and when she came crying to me later, I thought it was my duty to go smash their face in.
At the end of second grade, Ophelia and I made a new friend. His name was Edison, and he was going into the fifth grade. Edison was very smart for his age. He saw that I was strong-willed and a fighter, and knew there was a solution. He promised us then that he would protect us. He said that if we were ever in trouble, and if I thought I needed to fight someone, I should ask him first.
My parents were elated when I told them that I had a new friend. I also told them that he would protect me, and tell me if I needed to fight or not. It was an idiotic thing to say to them, because then they were unsure of Edison’s influence on me. However, they saw no bad influences the next school year, and so my friendship with Edison continued. But at a birthday party one fall evening, my parents met his parents. And they were Republicans.
Needless to say, I began home schooling not one month later. I was dragged kicking and screaming from the classroom my final day in public education. My last and painful memories were of Edison and his sulking face, his hand on the shaking shoulder of little Ophelia.
When we got home, I punched a whole in my bedroom wall until it measured three feet and seven inches by four feet and eleven inches. I broke three fingers and one thumb, and was grounded for two months. I made up my mind then and there that I wanted to be nothing like my parents. I didn’t want to be a friend Nazi, ruling with an iron fist who and who could not impact my children. My parents weren’t afraid that Edison would be a bad influence on me, but that I would influence them to change their ways. And no hippie wants to have their ways changed—especially not by their own flesh