THE MAP OF YESTERDAY
“The Map of Yesterday” is an adoption story that escapes from within the confines of a university lecture given by Dr. Claire McCabe, a renowned professor of cognitive science at Ithaca University who studies childhood memory and how it affects adult behavior. Dr. McCabe is also a first (birth) mother who surrendered her own child to an adoption agency at the age of sixteen. In the lecture, Dr. McCabe is demonstrating the difference between the experiencing self and the remembering self, a theoretical concept that explores the ways in which human beings give context for their lives through memory (the remembering self), while simultaneously grappling with who they are in the present moment (the experiencing self).
I started the process of making this solo performance with the intention of telling a story about adoption. I am an adoptive mom. Both my husband and son are adopted, so issues of adoption are very present in my life. When I began, I wanted to tell a story that was based on past events (the remembering self), because in the adoption process so much of the story is about “what happened before.” Do I tell my story about how I came to be an adoptive mom? Do I tell my son’s story as he had told it to me (through the eyes of a six year old)? Do I tell the birth mom’s story (which I only know through the adoption agency)? Somehow for me, the experience of adoption seemed to fuse all three, so that in the present moment (the experiencing self), the three perspectives (the first mom, adoptive child, adoptive mom) became one. Each story, each perspective is like a cable wire holding power, meaning and a specific purpose. The wires become tangled causing the feelings that accompany the adoption process—rage, joy, loss and guilt—to crisscross and ignite. Thus the process of making this performance was as much about the physical process of untangling those wires through the revelation of Dr. McCabe’s lecture/story, as it was about the realization that bundling, flattening, and organizing them couldn’t change the unfathomable, shifting logic of the remembering self and the experiencing self.