Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Losing What I Never Had

The days before the news I suspected but still can't always bring myself to say tingled. There was a low buzz, in me and between us, even if we weren't looking at each other, even if we weren't talking, even if he wasn't there. He knew, he said and said it for weeks: when I returned from frequent trips to the bathroom, when I complained that I was hungry again, when I held my breasts steady as I walked down the stairs, when I yelled at him for no good reason, then cried, then said I was sorry in Jamaica. But I was too scared to believe. As if believing ever jinxed anything. Even after my shaking hand, outstretched, showed proof, three times over three days, I still spoke in 'ifs' and 'maybes,' as if everything were hypothetical. As if my uncertain feelings on the subject had anything to do with its veracity.

I cried on the couch about what I was afraid I'd be losing. I vowed to tell our children, and especially daughters, what it really feels like. That it's not only choosing names and a nursery theme and godparents and pediatricians. That, at least in the beginning, it's not all storks and ribbons and cigars and pats on the back. It's also a whole lot of what-if and trembling. And after I cried and sneered at him, drinking my current favorite wine while I had water, I decided the tingling was a very good thing.

When a blood test confirmed what he was already sure of, I started using 'if' a lot less often, and we told my parents. As if it were true. He looked forward and then counted backward, filling in 266 days in a book we read every night. He cleaned the kitchen and made our bed. He worried about me and asked me how I felt. He looked at me, inches from my face when we went to bed, and he smiled that he couldn't believe it. He glowed.

Thursday morning, coming down the stairs, I realized I didn't need to hold my breasts. They didn't hurt anymore. I poked them periodically throughout the morning, willing them to hurt. I worried about the lack of pain. I put it from my mind until later, until I saw a pink streak on white toilet paper. A heartbeat I could feel in my stomach, but it was only mine. My mom called my doctor, who asked to see me immediately. We sat in the waiting room not reading parenting magazines. I tried not to make eye contact with the proud and exhausted owners of severely pregnant bellies around me. He made comments about the weather that didn't distract me. Because I already knew.

The word miscarriage, I've decided, and I've given it a lot of thought, is a terrible word. I recently learned that it's supposed to be the more sensitive term for what is medically called a spontaneous abortion. But maybe I prefer that more. Because if it's a miscarriage, that suggests that I did something wrong. I didn't carry it right; I didn't care enough; I failed. And I've thought that enough on my own over the last week without needing any reminders.

Mostly I've sat on the couch, when I can, or at my desk at work and stared at nothing. Wherever I go I find myself crying in reverse contractions. At first, every three minutes, then every five, and so on. I've only teared up once today, so far. I'm still bleeding and exhausted, surprised by how raw and real it hurts. I hid the book under my bed, aware that all the dates would be wrong but that I wouldn't care as long as we could use it next time. Aware that I was scared of losing the wrong thing, I promised myself that I wouldn't make that mistake again.

Everyone who knows works hard to validate my feelings, as I seem to be the biggest hurdle I'm facing, while everyone who doesn't tries to say things about next time and hope and their acquaintance that lost multiple babies but then became a mother. They are trying to help. But everyone who knows is aware that words never help. I have established rules I do not say that govern my thinking. No one is allowed to utter phrases in my direction that begin with "at least." Such as, "at least you know you can get pregnant," "at least you were only five weeks along," "at least you're very healthy and young." Also, no one can mention God's will. Because if I am expected to run to him for the comfort I have sought desperately anywhere I could get it, I have to believe he is grieving with me; I cannot see him as the source of my grief. Maybe that's bad theology, but it's carrying me through.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Irie, Mon

"Who goes to Jamaica for the weekend?" I heard a woman ask her friend. I was sprawled on a lounge chair on a little man-made island in the Caribbean sea, so I didn't really care. I sipped Red Stripe out of a tiny plastic cup that reminded me of my college cafeteria.

"Did you hear that?" I asked The Boy.

"Yeah, I'll tell you who goes to Jamaica for the weekend," he said, "people who can't afford to go for a whole week!"

Our Jamaican vacation was fabulous. When we left for the airport on Friday morning at 6:30, the temperature gauge on my car read 9 degrees. When we arrived in Montego Bay, it was 80. We were sweaty on the way to the resort, but figured a 71-degree temperature differential isn't really a bad problem to have. After a buffet dinner on the beach where The Boy said, "I'm eating too much, right? I should stop. I'll stop," before going for a second plate, we bet on hermit crab races and laughed as we competed with the Canadian couple at our table who refused to bet on the "Canadian" crab. We went to bed before 10 that night and watched CourtTV until we fell asleep. The Boy seemed to have reservations about ending a night on vacation this way, but it felt pretty perfect to me.

We spent all of Saturday and Sunday on the beach. Saturday, I laughed as The Boy ran away from something in the water. Thinking it was a fish or crab he had stepped on, I made fun of him. Turns out he had stepped on a sea urchin that had left its mark all over the sole of his foot. I performed surgery on what looked like tiny porcupine quills. That night we listened to a Jamaican band play American covers and we walked on the beach. We sat at the end of a pier kicking our feet over the dark water and talking about Freakonomics, the book that had somehow been compelling enough to make The Boy read it.

Sunday, we swam in a lagoon between the beach and the island. I was floating over some sea grass, when pain blinded me. I started screaming and flailing wildly, "Oh my God it hurts!" I said, then, "Get it off me! Is it still on me? OH MY GOD!" The Boy looked at me and moved mechanically, helpless while I flailed. I couldn't hear anything but my screaming, but I noticed that everyone on the beach was staring at me. No one made any moves toward us. The Boy helped me limp out of the water. We assumed I had been stung by a jellyfish. "I'm sorry for embarrassing you," I said, trembling on my beach chair while tears stung my eyes, "but I can't tell you how much it hurts." My knee turned deep red and strange marks that looked like lacerations sliced across it. We decided to go to the nurse. As we walked down the beach a little boy approached me.

"What stung you?" he asked. I told him I thought it was a jellyfish. He made a face. He was the nicest stranger I had encountered that day.

"I just know all those parents are saying, 'Don't worry, honey, that lady is crazy. The ocean and all of its creatures are our friends,'" I sniffled, "But you know what? They are wrong."

The nurse asked me what had happened. I told her I thought it was a jellyfish, but I wasn't sure. "It really hurts," I added. "Does this look like a jellyfish sting?"

"I don't know what stung you," she snapped, " I didn't see it."

"Well, is this typically what jellyfish stings look like?" I asked, gesturing to my knee that now appeared to read CE in garish, red raised print. The Boy later tried to interpret what God could be so desperate to tell me that He had to write it on my body.

"I've never seen anything that looked like this," she said, "But I don't work here very often." I could not understand how a nurse in Jamaica had never seen a jellyfish sting. We concluded something far more sinister had attacked me, but we couldn't be sure. I wanted to consult Wilbur, the ancient Jamaican who wandered around the island with a paddleboat full of handmade souvenirs. If he had spent 35 years working in the water, surely he had encountered a sting like this. But talking to Wilbur would mean reentering the water, and I wasn't quite ready to do that. "I bet he's never been stung by a jellyfish," The Boy joked. He made a similar joke about no less than fifty people, including many guests we encountered at the resort and Bob Marley.

Despite our injuries and my stubborn skin that was determined to burn despite my frantic reapplication of SPF 15, we had a great time and 4 days/3 nights felt much longer. I finally devoured Zadie Smith's On Beauty (every time I opened the book around The Boy, he began to pontificate pointlessly about the merits of beauty in his best Sean Connery voice ). The only real tragedy befell The Boy when he finished his book. "I'll never read another book again," he said quietly as he finished the epilogue. I looked at him quizzically. "There has never been another book like this, and I'm sure there won't ever be again." He pouted for a couple of days, even once we returned home and I took him to Barnes and Noble to prove him wrong. No luck so far.

I talked to my brother on the phone last night. "You guys must be really rich," he scoffed, "who goes to Jamaica for the weekend?"

I laughed and explained that he had it all wrong.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Mimicking Didion

In my current class on my tortoise road to an M.A. in Writing, I am studying, analyzing and imitating other, more successful and famous voices in an attempt to eventually pinpoint my own. Several years ago I had begun to feel mostly confident and comfortable in my voice, but taking this class makes me wonder if those feelings were premature and naïve. Regardless, each week we choose one of the voices we've read to imitate in a short piece that can be about anything. This week, I chose to mimick Joan Didion in "Goodbye to All That," an essay I had read before-- it is now underlined in my book in several shades from several moods and times. I ended up sort of liking the outcome, and since I don't yet have pictures from the Jamaican vacation, here it is:

Some days at recess I stood in the shade of the oak tree by the balance beam where Melissa Rose impersonated Madonna. We were six, and I wasn’t yet sure which kind of girl I wanted to be. Melissa sang “Like a Prayer” and jumped into side splits on the gravel. Even now, my groin muscles hurt just thinking about a move like that, but at the time I wished I could be that cool. Melissa wore a permed side ponytail and deliberately torn lace. Sometimes she wore fingerless gloves. I had the side ponytail, but that was about it. My mother told me, in an act I would later see as benevolent and sage, that if I still wanted a perm when I was nine we would talk about it then. I felt left out, with long, straight blonde hair. Fortunately, my tastes matured by the time I turned nine.

Other days I stood with Carrie (whose last name now escapes me) under the same tree, arms crossed in front of my chest. We watched Aaron McKinsey play soccer. Everyone watched Aaron McKinsey. In kindergarten, the year before, my mother had made me blush by pointing him out at the playground. “He’d be a good boy for you to marry,” she said, casually, “but he’s Jewish and his mother isn’t very nice.” I had never met his mother and did not have any understanding of what being Jewish had to do with any of it. Our next-door neighbors were Jewish and, at the time, all that meant to me was that they did not go to Backyard Bible Club with my brother and me or celebrate Christmas, but we got to go over to their house for latkes and to help light the menorah at Hanukkah. My mother bought a roll of blue and white wrapping paper that was just for their presents. To me, none of these seemed like hindrances to a marriage. For one week in kindergarten, I told everyone Aaron was my boyfriend. He sat criss-cross-applesauce beside me at story time every day, and when we played house he asked me to be the mom to his dad. Sometimes he held my hand. My friends told me they were jealous. But by the next week Leah Berenstein was the one who sat beside him at story time, and Aaron ignored me. Leah was the kind of girl who dressed up as a teenager for Halloween every year until she actually was one. I never became friends with Leah, and I convinced my friends that Aaron had betrayed me.

So in first grade, when Carrie and I watched Aaron at recess, it was with mixed feelings we didn’t fully understand—feelings that had little to do with him at all. He tried to play soccer, but Lia kept chasing him. Soon it wasn’t just Leah. Melissa Rose chased Leah, and twenty-one other girls tailed Melissa—we counted. Even at six, I remember thinking this didn’t seem right. Girls chasing boys like that? “No way,” I told Carrie. She agreed. We watched in shock, then disgust, as Leah tackled Aaron and stole his shoe. He got up and ran away with one shoe on. It was a strange mix of jealousy and anger I felt then. Even if some part of me knew Leah was acting crazy, I remember feeling irritated that she was still getting his attention and I was not—after that week in kindergarten, I never did again. It was the beginning of a long process in which I eventually learned that indignation never won a boy’s glance in anyone’s direction.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Compilations and Complications

We were listening to my latest compilation, another collection of songs too self-conscious to be as dark or indie or bluesy as they might be if they were only for me, but downtrodden enough to be entitled, "C's Moody Winter Mix."

When Citizen Cope's "Back Together Again" began, I started bouncing and nodding and singing along. "I think I may have a thing for songs with 'hoo-hoo's' in them. You know, not that kind of 'hoo-hoo,'" I remarked to The Boy. He laughed.

"You definitely do," he said naming "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree," one of my favorites from last year, Sheryl Crow's "Steve McQueen," and, of course, "Take the Money and Run." I nodded as this seemed a quirk funny enough to own.

When "Home," by Marc Broussard started, The Boy sighed. "Here's another one of your songs."

"Why don't you like it?" I asked, defensive. He mimicked Broussard's gravelly voice repeating the word 'home.' The Boy, apparently, dislikes repetition. His complaint about The Damnwells' "Louisville" sounded similar. ("I really like this song until he starts repeating 'Louisville,'" he said, as if the word reminded him of something foul-smelling.) Maybe he just dislikes repeated title lines. Regardless, we disagree, and another song on the new cd, which I've been playing many times in succession, proves it.

Jars of Clay's, "Work," caught my attention with an aggressive, incessant staccato drum beat countered by the slightly off-beat repeated line, "Do you know what I mean when I say I don' t want to be alone?" It might be because the melodic line shifts with the repetition, causing the harmony to cross over it instead of stack on top of it. But I think I like it more for its urgency and for the line I wish I had written: "I have no fear of drowning; it's the breathing that's taking all this work."

Now, I may not be known for my brevity, but that's where I've been. The breathing has been taking the life out of me, not in a bad way, but in a big way.

The mysterious zephyr I once referred to teased me twice but was not to be. We did not so much as flirt with the idea of moving to Texas, it was more like an at-the-expense-of-everything-else whirlwind romance. Alas, we broke up with it. After a nervous lunch to announce our intentions to my parents and three interviews on my part for the job that seemed perfect, apparently, I did not seem perfect. Half of our hearts gave up then. Or rather, maybe just mine did.

A month and a half later, The Boy had three interviews of his own, the third of which took him on an expenses-paid trip to San Antonio. It was warmer here than it was there the day he flew down. He met with 20 people over nearly eight hours. My friend Kelly took him to a Mexican restaurant and gave him a crash-course orientation. He came home the next day and we waited a little over the two weeks they said it would take to learn that he was close, but not close enough. The Boy moped a little, but mostly the ensuing weekend was a series of sighs and plans. The night after we found out, we went out for Mexican here and plotted the future. To sell the house? To start new job(s)? To procreate sooner than the later we planned long ago? To go back to school?

I enrolled in a class on the last day of late registration; we will put our house on the market in the spring, when the windchill is no longer a factor, but we don't expect to sell it for another year or so; my former contract ended last week-- with a party of awkward body language and phrases and really good baked ziti-- and now I'm mulling a new offer it seems I may not be able to refuse, and as for the procreation, well, I feel that will happen when it's supposed to. Most importantly that weekend, The Boy installed his surround sound system and we bought new rugs. We felt comfortable being in our house again. It felt like home, even though it always was. I've stopped being so afraid of calendars, for the most part, and any thoughts of Stetson acquisition have been tabled indefinitely. We can talk freely with family and friends when they inquire about jobs and locales. The Boy joined my gym and we have been working out at least 4 days per week. I could see results for him right away. I'm babystepping and doing the work, but I've yet to become impressed with my progress, or really to notice it at all. Of course, that could have more to do with my aversion to scales than anything else.

Basically, everything is better now. Friday morning we are headed to Jamaica for a long weekend. I can't really believe it, and when people ask the occasion I don't know what to tell them. We're hoping to do all the things we didn't do on our honeymoon. Swim. Lay out in the sun. Snorkel. Not worry that my father is on his deathbed as we return. Breathe deeply and with less work.
C'est-à-dire - Free Blogger Templates, Free Wordpress Themes - by Templates para novo blogger HD TV Watch Shows Online. Unblock through myspace proxy unblock, Songs by Christian Guitar Chords