So here’s a thing:
Last night I was at dinner with a friend and said, parenthetically, “…since I’m not having children…” which really makes it sound like, well, I’m not having children.
I’ve made similar statements, to friends and to myself and I’ll be the first to admit that there are times when I have not just noted that I am childless, but reveled in it. The quiet car on the train is nice, y’all. It’s quiet. And less crowded. I have this pretty nice life, sans a child. Especially now that I’m not miserably in the midst of trying to create said nonexistent child. I’ve spent a good bit of time this summer with people who also don’t have children and are not trying to get/have/make any right now. It’s…. nice. Actually really nice.
And yet. This morning I was having coffee with another friend – Sophie’s mama if you must know – who mentioned in the context of something else that she’d gotten pregnant at 42. And my first thought was, “well, damn, I’ve got two years left!” And then I rolled my eyes at myself. Because: no money, no sperm, no embryos left. You’ll all (two of you) remember that. But, still, my first thought was that I still had time.
This is not some “Woo! I’m Trying Again!” post. Because I am not. It’s more a “How Can I Hold Two Seemingly Opposing Feelings At The Same Time?” post. But who’d title a post that? Not me, clearly.
A couple weeks ago, I was at the beach (oh, the beach….) with a bunch of other gay people. Wow, the beach. So great. And yay! Gay people! Gay people who are not now, nor ever were, trying to have children. And, wow, was that a nice and unexpected bonus of the trip. I said as much, I think. And, still, I’d catch myself watching the children on the beach, sometimes wishing one of them was mine. I didn’t say much of anything about that. It was so great to be there and not have a child with me. It was hard/sad/something to see other people having a thing I always thought I’d have.
There’s no conclusion to this post.
A Story In A Few Parts Dedicated To Bionic On The Belated Occasion Of Her Birth.
“Is that you? Did you come in the front door right as I stepped out the back?” asked the roommate who used to be a monk from the front porch, where he had not been just a moment before.
“I did!” said Captain Starrhill Girl as she took off her boots, a little surprised, “How funny!”
“I am going to the very young roommate with a flute’s flute recital,” said the roommate who used to be a monk.
“Oh, no! Is that today?!” exclaimed Captain Starrhill Girl, alarmed and excited all at the same time. She had just trudged up what is locally known as Vinegar Hill with a backpack full of items from school and groceries from the health food store in a lovely new bag from the far-off Park Slope Food Co-op, and – obvs – she had forgotten about the very young roommate with a flute’s flute recital.
“It is; she mentioned it to me special this morning. Four o’clock! Do you want to go? Come on!” said the roommate who used to be a monk. “It will be an adventure!”*
“Ok!” said Captain Starrhill Girl and she threw down her bags and pulled her boots back on.
Off they went to the bus stop for an adventure!
The talk between Captain Starrhill Girl and the roommate who used to be a monk turned to the bus schedule, as it often did. They compared stories of early and late buses they had known and Captain Starrhill Girl pointed out various people she knew as they drove by while they waited at the bus stop on Main street across from the fancy market. At last a bus came into view and the adventure began!
“I think we could get off this bus and get onto one of the university buses,” said the roommate who used to be a monk as they rode west along Main street, “then we wouldn’t have to wait while the bus has it’s idle time there at the stop by the hospital.” There had already been discussion about the stupidity of the length and frequency of the pauses the city buses took in order to get themselves, one assumes, back on schedule.
“Ok,” said Captain Starrhill Girl, who just assumed that the roommate who used to be a monk had a better grasp of the bus systems.
As the bus got closer to the stop by the hospital, the roommate who used to be a monk stepped down from his seat and stood, poised, at the back door of the bus, ready to hop off as soon as it stopped. Captain Starrhill Girl figured she ought to be ready, too, and stood right behind him, willing and able to hop off the bus as soon as the roommate who used to be a monk did. The bus pulled up to the stop by the hospital, and the adventure continued!
The roommate who used to be a monk nearly leapt out of the back door of the bus, with Captain Starrhill Girl close at his heals, where she decided not to remain because his legs were far longer than hers. The roommate who used to be a monk sped right through the line of people filing in the front door of the bus he had just exited from the rear, cleaving them into two groups as if they were the waters of the Red Sea and the roommate who used to be a monk were Moses, as he made his way with due haste to the university bus waiting just ahead. Captain Starrhill Girl opted to walk almost as quickly, artfully dodging around the final person in line, because she is a small town girl at heart and can’t really bring herself to cut in line, even if it is just in passing. The roommate who used to be a monk lived in New York City about a generation ago, and has many tales of adventure to tell about it; it could be assumed that this was where and when he learned his mad crowd-splicing skillz.
With all speed, the adventuresome duo stepped up and onto the waiting university bus and off they went – to adventure!
Two blocks later (yes, 2 blocks), the university bus pulled up at the stop just past the hospital. “We made it!” cried the roommate who used to be a monk and Captain Starrhill Girl with delight as they passed their original bus which has just pulled up at the same stop** and hurried up the many sets of stairs that lead, swtichback style, to the lawn of the local university. The very young roommate with a flute was lucky enough to be giving her recital in a hall with the best acoustics in the state, according to some.
The roommate who used to be a monk took his watch out of his pocket and checked the time; it was just a few minutes before four o’clock. “Sometimes I surprise even myself,” said the roommate who used to be a monk modestly.
“That was very well planned,” agreed Captain Starrhill Girl as they hurried up the final set of steps into the hall. They hesitated a moment, trying to decide if it was wiser to enter from the left side or the right side. “Ah ha!” said Captain Starrhill Girl to herself once she spied a music stand that looked as if it had been repurposed as a program holder and she lead them to the left on the final leg of the adventure, into the main and most famous room of the hall just in time to hear the very young roommate with the flute begin her sonatina.
* Some, not all, of the dialogue in this story is made up.
**It could be argued that Captain Starrhill Girl and the roommate who used to be a monk should have stayed on their original bus, but really, how were they to know it wasn’t going to have it’s usual idle time at the stop by the hospital?
(with apologies to Gideon Defoe)
The funeral was good, y’all. I love them. For a while, I tried to couch that love in more acceptable phrases like “it was as good as such things can be” and “it was lovely” and “it’s an important right of passage” but more recently, I just admit I love them. A little group-emotion-solidarity? Yes. Some ritual? Yes. Talking about the best parts of a person? Yes.
From an email to Bionic:
****’s dad is a preacher – it was his wife who died – and when everyone stands and greets each other with “peace be with you” he came over to the side of the church where a bunch of us were standing and only doing a little greeting and peace-ing and said, hanky (yes, hanky – I’d brought one of my grandma’s to give to **** and good thing I did because she gave it to her dad in the middle of the service) in hand, “for those of you are are not as familiar with our traditions, peace be with all of you” which was the most moving part of the whole deal. ****’s family really is delightful and I am so glad I went. Totally worth the 4 hour drive. Also, rural Virginia. Be still my heart.
It’s possible that one could just read my emails to Bionic (Did you really need a link again? I didn’t think so.) and Uberbutch and skip this blog entirely.
Friday I went to (another) birthday party that involved a viewing of the Topp Twins documentary and a spin in a sauna. I was exhausted from all the driving over the past couple days, and because I am a wimp, but it was an awfully nice birthday party. There was cake:
Wow, that’s not such a good picture. Sorry. Now, I’ma be honest here, since it’s my blog and all, and tell you I don’t love the sentiment on the cake. However, the birthday recipient loved it as did the host who commissioned it and the cake itself was delicious, so I’ll call it a win. Plus, all the other pictures have people in them so this is what you get.
Then Saturday (y’all, this is just like a diary!) I went to a baby shower. Yes. For my dear friend M who worked long and hard to get this baby. I had sorted through a box of baby things that a friend gave me years ago (cho-girl hid it for me in her house for a long time and then it lived in the shed and then it was just time for it to go) and I gave the bulk of it to some other friends (who might have a girl), but I saved some plain and lovely shirts and a little pair of pants for M (who knows she is having a boy). And gave her two tiny hats that were the only baby things I’d ever bought for myself because I knew she’d treasure them and also just use them. There is only so much standing on sentiment that one can do on some hats. Now, I was… unsettled? bothered?… by a number of things at this shower, but they were things that don’t relate to infertility and so from that point of view the shower was great. I am really glad I went, just to make this retelling of my friend’s shower all about me.
Last night I did nothing. It was heaven. There’d been too much time away from home and my internal organs were starting to shrivel up. I ate left overs and watched trashy tv and polished my shoes and my roommate’s shoes with my grandpa’s shoe shine kit. There was a fire. In the stove. Unrelated to my grandpa’s shoe shine kit.
This afternoon, I’m going to Red Row Farm. Five years ago, when they still lived in Starrhill, W yelled over the fence early in the morning that L’s water had broken and so we spent that drizzly Saturday walking around Starrhill and 10th & Page trying to get labor started. A little less than 24 hours later, A arrived and I fed his mama ice chips that I think she still claims are the best thing ever, and watched as they encouraged A to nurse and became a family. I left them at the hospital and came back to Starrhill and got the nicest hug from L’s mama who had just arrived from NJ. It was a pretty great day.
Y’all. It has been a day. A good day, mind you, but A Day, all the same.
School was damn good, for a Wednesday, and I made it to staff meeting “on time” which is supposed to mean that there is just enough time to run a load of laundry through the washer and dryer. Today, I realized this is a false assumption. I stayed 15 minutes late and it was still not dry. Oh, well. But! All in all, work was good.
Then I drove to RIC to pick up a friend who flew in to see her sister’s new baby and, well, RIC is far. It’s an easy drive and I’m happy to do it, but it’s far. And then we went down to Nelson County to see said new baby and her equally appealing older sisters, and, of course, then we had to come back to Starrhill. All of which equals late. So worth it. But sill late.
And it’s not over! This afternoon I got the funeral information about another friend’s mama and the service is tomorrow. So I set about scrambling to find a sub and tried to figure how late I could leave school in cville and still make it to the church in Southside and then I had to organize a car, just in case the scrambling-for-a-sub worked out, because I’d loaned mine out for the next few days and then I had to get said organized car, which my visiting friend obligingly helped out with, and then, well, it was late. Like 9:30 or something. Which isn’t late for getting home for lots of people, but it is for me.
And the trash still had to be put out and the recycling and the fire had to be started because it’s damn cold all of a sudden. Lucky for me, my housemate fed the cats, else I’d have lost a limb when I finally arrived home.
And then I did some math involving time and realized that I could scramble a little more to get a sub to go to this funeral, because, for real, ya’ll: it’s funeral. You just go, as my father always says. My uncle, my dad’s older brother, flew from the west coast back east for every damn family funeral in my life time. He’d often stay with me and he’d always arrive with a bottle of George Dickel and we’d have drinks on the porch in the evening and breakfast from the bakery in the morning and then he’d pick me up from school so we could make it to whichever country church it was that go-round. Mostly he was here for a day or two, but he’d sometimes fly in on the red-eye and then out on an evening flight. And I’m fretting over a drive to Southside? No. My subs are in order; my funeral clothes are out and ready to be carried to school; I have my dad’s truck and I am getting to that damn church on time. May all your people who are no longer with you rest in peace.
- carried a heavy casserole to school as well as the damn bag of laundry
- did not miss the bus, and the driver greeted me with “I got ya” when I went to pull out my bus pass, which would be less of an event, but my bus doesn’t have a consistent driver anymore. It does, however, have another rider who gets off and on at the stop by my school. She is awfully nice.
- at school, it was Thursday, which is far better than Wednesday this year. Who knows why.
- a kindergartener came down to my class to show me and my assistant her math, which is par for the course with her these days. She shows us the problem she’s just done and then one of us gives her a new number. This has been going on for weeks. “I think I feel like doing some more math” she says when she asks us to make up a new number for her. Pics on Instagram because, yes, it happened. I enjoyed telling her about Ada Lovelace today.
- my assistant and I wore matching bottoms today. Her skirt looked great. My jeans were undergoing their probationary period and, sad to say, they failed. Cho-girl allowed as they were sort of mom-jean-ish. They are a really nice color, but they failed.
- rediscovered a press pot at school and so now we all have a little coffee in the afternoons and it is like heaven.
- tonight my book club is going to the movies. We are more of a multimedia club, actually.
- had post-work coffee (wow, that’s a lot of afternoon coffee) with cho-girl. We sat on the porch because we can.
How’s this for committed, y’all? Twice in one week.
Or, rather, I do.
Y’all, I went to church today. Did you ever? I know. It was for a Christening, which was lovely, and I got to sing some hymns, which, atheist or no, I do love to do. The sermon was about home, or at least that’s what I took from it. The preacher jumped off from Jeremiah’s letter (I do love the story of the Babylonian Captivity because it has a good song written about it, and who doesn’t love a story that turns into a good song. Also, it is a story I know.) and somehow ended up with a baseball metaphor, which worked BTW, and it was really pretty lovely.
Home is something I think about a lot. What is it, where is it, how do I make it, when do I feel like I’m there, what happens when I’m not there, who fits there, etc, etc, et cetera. Of note: bad things happen if I’m not home for more than, say, 45 minutes. Things like my organs start to fail and maybe the cats cry that I’m not around. So. Stay home, me.
Anyways. What’s been happening, other than out of character church going? Let’s make a list.
- school started, cho-girl left me (not really, she has taken over the other toddler class) and I got a new and lovely assistant
Y’all, nothing else has happened. It’s nice. I like things not happening. How about I keep writing and things will keep not happening?
I’m not pregnant. Again. I am, however, in sometimes-sunny San Francisco, which is a decent consolation prize. Ok, consolation prize isn’t the thing, but aside from a breakdown or two, I honestly am ok.
This leg of the trip I’m staying with a dear friend of (maths….) 27 years (whoa.) and her equally dear girlfriend in their new-ish house and my childless and unpregnant state allows me to do things like sit a bar all afternoon drinking Pimm’s cups while reading a graphic novel and chatting with the (hot) bar tender (who was very into talking about guns and how she *needed* them to defend her “female partner and 12 year old asthmatic pug and hairless cat” to which should teach me to judge by appearances.)
Which is to say I am doing ok. The waste of all the money is, well a waste – and there’s little I like less than waste – but there it is. I have thrown away the PIO I hauled across the country and my friend has arranged for Lyon-Martin to take my extra needles and syringes so I don’t have to throw them away (see waste issues above), so that’s all ok.
Which is not to say that this doesn’t suck. It does. And I have no idea what happens from here. No fucking idea. But right now, I am in good company, writing and reading and drinking tea. And tonight I get on the train to travel up the coast to Seattle.
Which is to say that the world will continue to turn and I will be ok.