Posted on March 21st, 2017
He is entwined around me like an octopus, his legs encircled in mine, his arms twisting around my elbows down to our fingertips which also curl into each other. We are completely warm even though it snows hard outside today. When I breathe in I smell something like baby powder, a smell that is so distinctly his I can’t even find something proper to compare it to.
We fall back asleep.
Later that day a friend calls. I am on break at work, but the children are never far, their voices loudly echoing through the halls of my school. She has had two miscarriages. She has had two adoptions fall through. We are both only twenty eight, but her quest to have children started years ago. She sometimes feels deeply sad, she sometimes seems completely removed, she sometimes acts as if nothing is happening.
When I hang up I think of him, back in the bed that morning curled around me. I’m filled with him for a moment. The intensity of our intimacy is so quiet I have trouble finding words for it. It is delicate, constant, we are always with each other. I text him. Something like “I love you” or “good morning”- something banal. I wait for his response, when it doesn’t come before the kids start to walk in I get anxious.
The class does not go well. The kids don’t want to do work. They won’t put away their phones. I make a half-hearted effort at reading “Night” aloud to them. For about twenty minutes they are silent, listening to my voice. I have been told reading out loud to kids whose reading levels are low is good for them, that it helps them. When I look up three of the eleven students are asleep, but the others are listening. This has to be a win for now.
When I get back to my phone he has texted back a heart. It’s simple, but an acknowledgement. I breathe easier. I ruffle through my bag and take out two klonopin, put them under my tongue, let them dissolve. The next class goes easier. My energy effects their energy. With my anxiety alleviated so is their anxiety. They calm down for now.
A few weeks later another friend from childhood is having what she thinks is a miscarriage on a business trip in D.C. She had only been pregnant a few weeks, but had very much wanted to be. She takes a train to New York then a car to our house in New Jersey. My mother is there. Everybody drinks too much, my friend cries some, she is reassured by my mother another child will come.
After she leaves I get wasted and cry hysterically. When I’m done being wasted I decide to stop drinking.
It mostly works.
Another friend sends me an article called “The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness.” It is still open on my computer. I have not read it.
The next two weeks I fight with him a lot. I fight about “where we’re going” and “what we’re doing.” I live entirely in the future and the past. The present has become meaningless to me. I delete my Facebook account. I feel that I cannot even discuss what is bothering me. I too wonder if a child will ever be a part of my life, but there is no physicality to my pain. I do not have a story like my friends have. There is no sisterhood that has a narrative of pain, an explanation that can be passed on. I think of my mother on the floor with my friend, holding her close, whispering in her ear. She was able to say what needed to be said.
My specific pain seems to go beyond the desire for a child. It runs through me like a chasm forever threatening to open wider. It is wordless, it is silent, and it is lonely. I stop taking Prozac, all at once, thrown right into the trash, and feel better. He and I decide to take a step back, focus on ourselves, and I feel better. I talk to a gay friend in Los Angeles. He makes me laugh. “You don’t actually want children now, you’re young, and you have all the time in the world.” I hang up the phone and feel a little warm. Talking to him always makes me feel warm; maybe it is because he makes me think of L.A. More likely though, he gave some words to this pain, named it, and then found a way to comfort it. I imagine for a few minutes moving to L.A., leaving all of this behind, and starting over in a warm hazy reality. Him and I would lie on the beach stoned and laugh a lot. I know this isn’t reality.
The friend who has been struggling through all pain called last week. She is pregnant again. If he is a boy, she will name him after me. I cry on a corner in Chinatown and think, maybe that’s enough. In the loft upstairs, sitting amongst fellow writers, eating pork buns and smoking cigarettes inside, I fall silent for a few minutes, I am out of my body. It is in these moments I feel myself dissolving, the borders become hazy, I am unsure of who I even am.