Reading: Desperation by Stephen King
Listening to: "Animal I Have Become" by Three Days Grace
Outside: Autumn trickles closer with every scudding cloud
This morning on my daily walk around the neighborhood, I saw a young woman jogging. She rocked a high ponytail and fluorescent clothes, and moved with a grace and lightness at which I could only marvel. She rounded the playing field in an effortlessly honed curve along the fence. She was so thin. She looked like me.
How I used to look. Pre-pregnancy.
I'm caught between the two things that make you slow down: pregnancy and a pandemic. I have hefted this weight (at least an extra healthy thirty pounds and more every day) for what has felt like a lifetime. Pins-and-needles feet, sore back, bathroom breaks every twenty minutes. I can't get out of the way quickly enough for children dashing past me at the school gates, or for a spider making its way across my living room floor in the evening's lengthening shadows. I calibrate my every movement with the dedication of a time-worn scientist: how to climb and balance on the couch to hang early Halloween decorations, twisting the window's string of LED ghosts as they play in the sunlight; how to un-squat myself at my Hospital Go-Bag, after kneeling at it, praying to it, patting the bathrobe and the toothpaste and the baby blanket and the snacks I probably won't want; how to roll off the couch or back onto it, and the delicate, desperate reach for a remote control always an inch too far away. I am bigger, slower, full of baby, my voice muffled to the life inside me as I tell him all the things I feel he needs to know. Mommy and Daddy are ready for you, I say. What we don't remember will come back to us, I think. Taking care of babies is like riding a bicycle. I hope.
I have grown, literally and figuratively, during my time in Lockdown. I remained in Lockdown these past six months even after it eased, strictly observing social distancing, still not visiting restaurants or supermarkets, still not going to parks to watch my daughter swing from the monkey bars. My expanding girth taunts passersby. And me. I bite down hard on patience: patience for my daughter's complaints at my gripes and constant need for help; patience for a school year that started late; patience for a pandemic's rise and fall, now, at the roughest almost-there beginning of fall.
And here! Good things: the slide and clink of ceramic plates like the tinkling of laughter at the start of every tea-time. The postie who lets herself into the backyard and chocks parcels anywhere she can fit them so I don't have to bend down to pick them off the front stoop. These past months of 100% time with my daughter, her last days as an only child, painting rocks and wood pieces in the sun.
Our Mother-Daughter walks - sacred now that the school year has begun - to our favorite trees, so pregnant themselves with late-summer leaves.
|Lena's home-school homework.|
|Lena's practiced pike. |
|My view of beauty-within-exhaustion.|
I have whittled and worried about all kinds of things. About everything. Will I give birth alone in the hospital? Will we even make it in time? How can I keep him safe in this world he's coming into, where going without a mask, in some places, is as unspeakably embarrassing, as shockingly vulnerable, as horribly exposed as suddenly discovering you're naked in public? (So skittish we are now in this Covid Era, so ready for distance; the introvert in me, I daresay, rejoices.)
So I guess this is the best of times and the worst of times. Three Days Grace comes back to me again from one of my favorite summers, also distant - windows rolled down in my rustbucket 1991 Pontiac 6000 LE, the bass throbbing through the September-hot blue cloth seats as I gravel-bounce my way past a high-sided cornfield - I'm the animal pregnancy and pandemic makes you. It turns you into a strange creature. You need sleep, quiet, peace, time to just Be. You find yourself yearning for Before, like the taste of a cake you only had once, wishing for that part of you that once reveled at a holiday resort's poolside, or that selfishly indulged in a cramped, beer-soaked pub, cheek-to-jowl with the next table's strangers. How foolish we were, how unthinking. How easy life was then. But we're past the teenager-years now, aren't we? Death has its gloves off, breathing closer, hanging over you. We think twice about handling an envelope from our mailbox, or pulling groceries out of the bag; we wash our hands 8,000 times a day.
Our eyes are Nicole Kidman-expressive to make up for our inscrutable hidden mask-mouths.
This morning the young woman ran past, a yellow glowing blur. I gave her a wide berth, as she did me (thank you!!!). I lumbered along, feeling kicks, making my slow way home, every cell shrieking my mammalian need for water, water, water. Her Nikes flashed at me through fresh-cut grass like the winks of lightning bugs on a pond, receding into their own new season, as I shuffled forward, wispy and Corona-gray-streaked, into mine.
Happy Friday, everyone.
May you all stay safe and well.