When I was born, my parents had no name for me. They just let it come to them, and it had to start with M. You see, my parents unintentionally named three of their children with M names. There was Malcolm, Michael, and Mitchell, so they figured that they may as well named all of their children with M names. They then had Madeline, my twin sister Missy, and me. My mom said that she wanted to name me Marilyn after Marilyn Monroe, but my dad said he didn't want me to be named after a specific famous person, so he came up with a happy medium. Maryland...and so I was. Maryland Eve McKennitt, youngest of six from Brian and Natalie McKennitt.
My dad was born in Ireland. He comes from pretty much a purebred line of red heads. Basically everyone on the paternal side of my family is a red head, including my dad and myself...and Missy. He came to America in the 50's and majored in Art at college. He had one child before he had us six with our mom (who was also a red head, might I add). My dad always said that she was a "surprise," but if I had to make an educated guess I'd say that surprise was more of a drunken mistake.
My mom was originally from Kentucky. Her family moved up to Chicago when she was just really young. She's by far one of the smartest people in that family. She went to college, which was really uncommon for women in the 50's. She wanted to have a chance to make a better life for her and her future family, and also, she didn't want to wast her talents on some guy she met in high school just so she could be like everyone else and marry right out of high school. She married my dad in 1959 and a few months later,she had my brother Malcolm.
I spent my entire childhood sharing. I had to share every thing with my siblings, and I mean every thing. Clothes, a room, friends, toys, parents, my DNA, the womb; hell, I didn't even have my own sperm and egg, I had to share with Missy. I felt like I lived in the shadows of her. Everyone always introduced her first, and the excuse was that she was born first. No, she was born fifth, and I came fifteen minutes later. Couldn't everyone forget about those fifteen minutes just once. It's not like I wasn't there when she was born.
There was one thing I had that was mine. When I was five, I told my dad I wanted a guitar so I could learn to play guitar like him. He laughed and patted my head. I took that as an I-wasn't-getting-it signal. I was very surprised when at Christmas I opened a box that contained the guitar. My dad specified that it was mine and mine only. I wasn't quite sure why. It was just a normal guitar; it didn't have my name on it or anything. I didn't find out why it was mine until I sat down with it and let Dad teach me.
When I got the guitar, I couldn't really read, and the only thing I could write was my name, but I loved to color and draw. Dad told me that the guitar was made for a left handed person. My left handedness was something that not even Missy could compete with, for she was right handed. Of course, Missy tried to play it off that she was really left handed so she could use my guitar, but Dad didn't buy it, and I was extremely thankful for that.
The first thing he taught me about the guitar was the names of the strings from lowest to highest: E, A, D, G, B, E. Quickly, I picked up on learing how to play the guitar. I knew how to play most of Stairway to Heaven by Led Zepplin when I was eight, which if you think about what that song's like, that's pretty impressive that an eight year old could manage to pluck that out. Before I knew it, I was writing songs. Doing poetry units in school was alway easy for me, because I'd just take whatever it is that I wrote for a song, although, I never really comsidered song writing poetry. To me, it was a lot more than that.
Every time I see that first guitar I had it, with it's spruce body and nylon strings, I think about the events that lead me to be where I am today. I think about my dad, I think about my friends, I think about my hometown, I think about that house I used to live in, and I also think about my daughter.
It's because of that guitar that was intended for children, that I'm sitting on top of the world right now.