Shh, do you hear what I hear?

Long, long time ago…wow, a full Chinese zodiac rotation ago (12 years), there was a thing called Team Angie vs Team Jennifer, namely, nosy third parties who took a position on the love triangle of  Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Rachel Green from Friends.

Me? Team Angie. I mean, why wouldn’t a man be drawn to a badass bitch who flew planes when your wife complained 24/7 about being type-cast? While completely neutral on her acting skills (honestly can’t tell if she has them or doesn’t,) I was turned off reading any interview with her because it was one whiney rant. If I want that, look no further than this blog, or open an email from my reliably pessimistic older sister–I don’t pay for Vanity Fair to hear the rich and famous puff and pout about how life is so unfair.

Oh but Jennifer, that was over a decade ago. How times have changed. Girl, you and I have had more in common than I would have ever imagined. Remember the days when you were on a tabloid every week for having a bloated belly at the beach or some invented source talking about how you were getting fertility treatments? It was rather relentless and brutal. Simply put, it was bullying and I’m sure there’s some pop psychology class at some hip college that is dissecting it now (not that these college kids know who Jennifer Aniston is, oh but their professor does…oops, I digress.) Oh yes, our parallel developments.

Shhh, listen. Do you hear what I hear?

Nothing. Yup, no one is talking about how you’re trying for a baby any more. Me, neither, about a year ago, people stopped bothering to say, “Oh you never know” when I’d say I don’t know if I want kids.

The air is thick and heavy with the unmentionable.

Pregdar

“What are you doing here?!”

Super excited about the coincidence of running into each other, we chatted up a storm to condense our respective seven years into 90 second spiels, then switched to near future plans.

“Well, I hadn’t planned any of it,” she said of her decision to move, “but when I got pregnant, things changed.”

And that was the first time in our four minute encounter my eyes drifted below her face.

“Oh my god! You’re pregnant!!! Congratulations!!!!”

She laughed so hard. She assumed her six-month bump would be the first thing anyone would notice.

That would be anyone, but me.

When I was younger the wedding-band-scan was like an involuntary muscle. A while ago I stopped caring what people’s marital statuses were. Turns out I never even went through a phase of worrying about the Joneses in the pregnancy department, and I doubt I’ll start to care now.

Bah Humbug Mother’s Day

Yup, that time of the year to avoid social media, retail, and brunch hotspots. Sticking to my version of GTL–yoga, groceries and laundry.

Yoga was a room full of the usual suspects, single folks.

Supermarket was luxuriously empty. The cash registrar rang me up.

“Do you want the receipt?”

“Yes, in the bag, please.”

“Here you go. Happy Mother’s Day, to you and yours.”

Sigh!

Then that happened

I have little patience for those who preach that traveling helps discover who they are–those people just need to swap their airline ticket with a check for a shrink and figure out what they’re running away from. Travel is travel, exciting, challenging, eye opening, but not that profound.

Or so I thought. I was in East Asia. School was out and families were out in droves.  Kids awkwardly pedaled their bikes ahead of their moms walking with a swaddled sibling.  I was struck by how genuinely child-like the kids were, embodying curiosity and innocence. And the moms–they were relaxed and in tune with the children. They radiated kindness and warmth, and I had a thought–I could raise a child here.

It stirred. My long lost uterus, devoid of any pulse, let out a silent squeak, “I want a child.” I couldn’t believe it. Sentiments I thought I’d never have, making an appeal for the first time ever. Is this truly happening?! Inside my body?! MY uterus is stirring?!

It was faint, but it was a definite signal. Then it sank in. So all this time, all these years of struggling with why, the answer had been goddamn New York City– I had flashes of the expressions of the helicoptered kids, their expensive clothes and regimented schedules, the vapid eyes of the ones spilling out of their strollers with one hand in a ziploc bag full of goldfish. My body had taken all this in and shut down, deciding the rat race was no place for kids. The fucking Big Apple.

I was wide awake for the twelve hour flight home.

A Perfect Neutral

Five years ago, I was tense all day. A good friend gave birth and everyone was stopping by the hospital to congratulate the new parents. The social pressure was mounting as much at the same rate of my internal stress–fuck babies! Fuck this shit! I don’t like babies! I want life before babies! Here’s another friend who’s leaving me! Why don’t I want babies?! Why can’t I figure it out already?!?!

By the time I talked down my inner angry voice, I had missed visitation hours, but I put on my best unbitter face, sweet-talked my way past security and swallowed the growing knot in my throat to open the door–there they were, the once weekend warrior stoners, holding in awe their very own creation. I peered into her red wrinkly face, scrunching, stretching, squinting, smiling. Her tiny hands and feet with perfect miniature nails, nailbeds and all. Life–the science class videos and metaphysics course readings all blurred–couldn’t recall who said what, but here, undeniably was a miniature being throbbing with it.

Of course the miracle of it didn’t stop the rolling tears on the subway ride home, streaming frustration and confusion about this thing called life I wasn’t part of.

Fast forward to today. Another dear friend gave birth after a very long and difficult conception with all the scientific assist money can buy. “High risk pregnancies,” we’re told, but brush off because there are 50-somethings doing IVF, but in her case, there were multiple complications, a reluctant C-section, and a full day of not being able to hold her newborn as she was tethered to an IV. I don’t visit every baby at the hospital, but I figured the mom could use a friendly face.

I knew this was one of the last newborns I’d see, given most of my friends are done with building a family. I had some anticipation–namely, I wanted to know how I would react to a newborn. Perhaps if they’re not screeching or running from one side of the house to the other, a baby would be attractive. I peered into the swaddled red face scrunching her nose trying to figure out this stranger. She popped her tiny little hand from her cocoon and moved it like a starfish before making a loose fist against her ears. There they were, those perfect baby fingers, nailbeds and all. I matched my breathing to hers in hopes she’d relax a little.

But I was also trying to locate the connection with my inner voice.

Isn’t life amazing? 

Yeah.

Look, just look at this tiny baby. A perfect human being.

Yep.

….anything?? I mean, anything????

no, I’m trying…I’m trying, but…. sorry, negative. No biological squeal, no jealousy, no I’m-ready-for-mine–nothing, absolutely nothing.

Stella Art Thou–Winterstorm

Stella, a blitzkrieg of a snowstorm and winter’s swan song. A state of emergency declared in New York City with most above-ground transportation suspended, schools shut down and businesses encouraged to close save essential staff.

In the case of my workplace, the essential staff was the bachelor and me. Following  HR’s “work from home as necessary” guideline, neither of us could validate the necessity of staying home, us single Manhattanites with no kids.

I was productive on a quiet day. Three incoming calls total. Even had the chance to read some trend and research reports.

Around 5PM I figured I’d get home before it got dark.

“See you tomorrow,” I told my trench mate. He was watching ESPN on his computer.

“Yup! Get home safe.”

We had held down the fort of single people, a space free of pancakes, hot chocolate, snowball fights and puzzles. We stayed warm under the glint of fluorescent lights and stared out of aluminum framed office windows waiting for the storm to abate–so that we could scurry home to frozen dinners and chilled beer.