I can’t do anything about the ambivalence but acknowledge it. maybe I am too old. maybe too irresponsible or neurotic, too self-involved, flawed in a thousand, a hundred thousand ways. maybe I will worry myself to death. perhaps 100% of me is not entirely convinced that parenthood is the best course– no more staying up late noodling just for the hell of it, no more morning lassitude or wide open spaces of minutes to ponder the dilemma of self– god, I want a baby. it’s that bald, at times. at times, it is that basic, the desire to grow beyond the self, to forge a family alongside another thinking/feeling favorite person. it’s ridiculous, really– I can speak blatantly about my desire for a dog, but to admit my yearning to be a mother feels somehow unmentionable, awkward, at this point, in some lights, pathetic. it is a lot to admit. so dreams have spoken the truth I cannot utter for years– the fears and desires. I can’t bear witnessing my changing, aging body, because it heralds the passing of possibility. it’s not all I’ve ever wanted, and honestly many days I fear I’ve accomplished so little– but this one thing, on the verge of being taken from me, seems regrettable, if missed. I know there are a lot of ways to parent, many many valid ways. I have considered several of them, as alternatives. but the chance may not yet be gone to carry my own child in my body, concocted from parts of both of us– what a wonder! brilliant. I want that. I don’t want the opportunity to pass, in the course of things.
I realize this is a lot. I struggle with knowing I’m inclined to say too much, so I say nothing and end up feeling unbearably lonely and unconnected. I must write my heart or risk falling entirely to pieces. it’s a little sloppy, but the only thing that works.
… is feeling bittersweet, conflicting emotions as she views one niece’s posted photos of the eldest niece’s wedding this past weekend, which sarah herself was unable to attend.
… experiences a moment while brushing teeth in which the mirror face comments, sotto voce but unmistakeable, so-called bloom of youth vanished.
… ‘s boyfriend tickled her out of bed rather than allow her to wallow indefinitely in a weepy slump.
… often feels overwhelmed by the myriad glimpses of other people’s lives and psyches crushed together in the virtual realm.
… isn’t entirely certain to what extent she continues to “know” people she was once friends with in a different time and place.
… doesn’t altogether recognize, in a real, concrete sense, family members and other loved ones, when seeing them or reading them in decontextualized slivers.
… has an unsettling array of uncertainties and questions.
… is hyper-aware that depressives are a serious drag.
… settles too often for the too-familiar, too-human unspiffy personal truth.
… is mushing forward, struggling to feel okay.
another fine book with “dog” in the title (no mystery why these jump off the shelf at me): a three dog life by abigail thomas– memoir most gracefully arranged.
my head is full of shards that poke me awake at three and four a.m.– at which point I’ll get out of bed, fed up with it, meander aimlessly from bathroom to kitchen, alight on the couch and sit staring, full of unreconcilable noise, simply fraught in the dark, until eventually exhaustion wins out and back to bed.
saturday we spent entirely out, unusual for habitual homebodies– downtown among the shamrock throng– we pursued our own parallel and unrelated course from cell phone store to lunch to art museum to secondhand shops to bar and so on, weaving through and among all those drunken costumed babies– girls crying into cell phones, boys hollering, singing, peeing in doorways– loud and incidental to our own daylong adventure.
we’ve decided to stay put for now, though spring is tweaking me– it’s the good choice, pull ourselves together in all the right ways for planned rather than haphazard forward momentum. practicing patience is uncomfortable. my mind hounds itself with buts and ifs, and it’s difficult to keep still and steady. my heart craves large, marked and decisive gestures, but is unable or unwilling to settle on a single direction for momentum and so thrashes against itself, pushing this way and that until it’s simply worn out.
the time has changed, so days are brighter and seem longer, which lifts my mood across the board– regardless the prospect of another year confounds.
Iâ€™ll be lying in bed, deep in the middle of the night, and will shift, turn my head on the pillow or roll my body to a new position, and the whole world suddenly tilts on its axis and wobbles there, uncertain of north. Heat washes over me, followed by nausea, and then Iâ€™m wide awake, trying to hold my head in a neutral position to make the tilting stop. The feeling is unbearable, so for two nights now Iâ€™ve ended up getting out of bed and sitting up on the couch, holding my head so carefully upright, tentatively on solid ground. Tomorrow I’m calling the doctor to get my ears looked at.
I have a fear of heights. I donâ€™t recall any sensation of the world spinning as I looked down from a height, only sweating palms, racing heart, tunnel vision. When I was a child, I visited some family who lived near Niagra Falls in upstate New York, and we went to witness that great spectacle one unlikely icy day. All I can recall of the place is the elevator bank on the blustery observation platform, which I could not bear to step away from, and the high surrounding fence laughing back at me.
We used to go repelling off rock faces up in the wilds of northern Michigan. Weâ€™d scramble up the less vertical parts off ’round the side, and I vividly recall that feeling of freezing to the face, incapable of motion either forward or back, up or down, just hanging suspended there in the most hated position, my fingernails dug into some wet clump of moss, patches of lichen shearing away under my Keds.
Well into adulthood to this day I dislike malls with tall escalators stretching into wide open space, follies of some interior designer. I’ll locate an elevator, if I can, despite the swoop that lodges in my stomachâ€”but if compelled to, I will ride those infernal ascents, heart pumping at the yawn of gravity at my back, fingers gripping the rail too hard, eyes fixed on the steps or someoneâ€™s back, anything solid, before me.
the deal is 200 words a day, at minimum, regardless of mood or weather. doesn’t matter if you walk in the door with nose dripping and right eardrum throbbing. forget about losing the street parking skirmish for the evening, ceding that spot, though you didn’t have to, to the guy who’d turned in that driveway just before you pulled up, who reversed and filled up tight on your tail flashing his brights as testament to prior claim– you could have ignored him, did for 10 or 15 seconds, aching ear, 20 degree weather and all, but then you thought about the roles reversed, muttered fuckit and pulled out, parking finally blocks away, grumbling the way home all hunched against the wind. doesn’t matter if you’re working for less than you think you should doing work with little meaning or appeal most days– you focus on keeping afloat, fending off the big questions, tasting moments, floes of grace in the grey expanse– you work, as they say, for the weekend, for the delectable companionship of off-hours with the warm soul who lies beside you in bed at night. you disregard the wind that rattles the window frames. you look for a light, even in your sleep– tell yourself to see it, that you’re the only one to rub the sticks together or strike flint. notes from the universe keep saying to raise the bar, startle yourself, try something new. you try. dreams are full of sinister families, strangers who stand too close, convoluted apartment building layouts. the checkerboard of windows across the way houses an unfathomable array of lives– the city baffles and overwhelms. you begin to feel old, without marks in the ground to show your progress. the big questions are unavoidable for long– unless you stay away from the page, fill your head with busy replaceable noise– but still they hover outside, whispering to be answered, or at least addressed.
I’m sitting at the dining room table this morning drinking tea and watching snow fall– or actually I’m watching it do a whole lot more than fall– big flakes carried on variable wind so that sometimes it drives straight down, sometimes flies sideways, and about half the time ends up floating upwards for awhile before drifting eventually down again. Not that itâ€™s all doing the same thing at the same time either, layers of it near, midway, farâ€”snow gives a sense of airâ€™s distance and depth which is ordinarily unapparentâ€”the red brick building across the street serving as an excellent backdrop for discerning the motion of so many distinct white clusters. When the wind is light, it feels like a delicate, weaving dance in several parts, choreography complex and dynamic. And then there is the changing daylightâ€”now a dull glare, tall buildings in the distance highlighted against a cotton grey skyâ€“ now they darken as the foreground begins to gleamâ€”now it all goes matte and dim. Thereâ€™s the sound of the wind and motion of tree branches gesturing in itâ€”air quiet and near-still, humming with gathering momentum, the whir and howl of a whipping gust. Sometimes the snow lets up, becomes so sparse it seems finishedâ€”and Iâ€™m sad for the end of my tumbling showâ€”and then it will drive down suddenly harder than before, a white grocery bag caught ballooning high in a distant tree branch, smoke steaming from a stack on the red brickâ€™s roof. And the trees seem to bow and nod to one another, shake side to side, conversing in a code of motionâ€”if I could translate it to sound, it would be operatic, dirgelike, gossipy, falling to a whisper. Three figures emerge from the rear of the red brick building bundled up in big coats against the cold, file down the narrow path toward the sidewalk and out of view. I hear a childâ€™s laughing cry on a gust and imagine setting out for sledding in snow pants and gigantic boots, woolly mittens and scarves, hats of all shapes and motley color. Here where I sit the clock ticks quietly behind me, the potted shamrock on the sill nods red and green leaves delicately in a draft, wedged triads facing outward like me, toward the light. The radiator clanks halfheartedly. My tea cools. And again the snowfall seems to have sated itself. A fat caramel-colored squirrel wanders out impossibly far on a thin twig, scurries about, begins some acrobatics in the lull.