Clear Plastic Bag

clear plastic bagLately I’ve been reminded a lot that I don’t have a child.

Mom went to Newton, Kansas to be with my sister. She said my sister needed help with her new house. I said, “I guess it’s a good excuse to see Maggie (her granddaughter), too.” “Well, there is that incentive too.”

My only girlfriend in London is cuddling with her new baby, sweet, sweet. But my only friend, when she is talking to me on the phone, often suddenly cries out, as I am mid-sentence: “Are you waking up? Are YOU waking up?” I try not to feel like she isn’t listening.

My ovaries haven’t recovered, I guess, since the miscarriage. So we think. So it’s just that futile spinning of schedules and numbers and another month goes by. The doctors — aren’t they sweet? — say things like “You’re not that old.” But “a family,” to me, isn’t just Mom and Dad fawning on a solitary kid. They are kids and dogs and chores and chaos, all rolling over each other. Lots of noise.

And, no matter who I say anything to, including you, I am the bad guy. I am the broken string on the guitar, the discordant twang complaining. It is right, really: Moms are right. If you say anything about any one of them–friend, sister, mother– and you have no “experience” then you might as well be a turd that learned to talk.

“Just wait till you have one. Then you will see what it is like” all the horrible mean awful women say. All those women who matter and have meaning to the world because their child didn’t get flushed down the Paddington rail station toilet. The ones who “know things” when I am stupid and clueless and evil for wanting my friend to still be my friend, and my mother to still visit me, and for the world to stop revolving around all the babies that, for some reason, I don’t have.

I don’t know why I thought of that. I guess it is on my mind.

Amber asked me a question. She said, in an e-mail to me today,

“so, that’s all we’re talking about today, airport security and how to put everyone who plans to fly this month in total angst. we’re flying west in three weeks- i’d really like to have some crayons and a coloring book with us. so much for carrying my bride’s maid dress on the plane with me…

any thoughts there in London?”

These are the thoughts that go through my head, me, this selfish pillar of salt who would never think of crayons because I don’t have a two-year-old:

1. I am not afraid to fly. Maybe I am too stupid to be afraid. But, now, I don’t want to get on a plane without Colin. Because if we go, we’d like to go together.

2. If I had to pick up and walk out the door forever, live in a concentration camp or where ever–leaving everything behind, what would I take? I don’t know. A photo of my family. One favorite book. A pen and paper, if I could. A good pair of shoes and socks and a warm coat and hat. You can do pretty well with good socks and a warm hat.

3. People don’t want peace. If we did, we’d act on it. We’d spend more time in the garden. We’d walk places, instead of driving. We’d sit out on the front porch at night and listen to the cricket, or the children playing or the cars passing. We’d turn off the Playstations, the TV and the news. Because there is so little of the mess you can change or control.

4. We can only love our family and our friends, and we just try not to be mean and judgmental in our minds about the way we think about anyone. People are people, period. Just like you. They need forgiveness. I believe, when you walk into the light at the end of your life that that is what you will know. Doing those things is hard enough, really. I know, because it’s hard for me everyday to not be mean and small. No need trying to solve Israel and Iraq’s problems. Just try to solve your own.

5. Eat a grapefruit today, or maybe some watermelon. They are so juicy and delicious. I never ate them before, and wow, are they good.

I want a baby, and when will I have one? I don’t know. I just know when he or she gets here, that we aren’t going to make our decisions from watching CNN.

Elizabeth Howard

Elizabeth writes literary non-fiction, haiku, cultural rants, and Demand Poetry in order to forward the cause of beautiful writing. She calls London, Kansas City, and Iowa home. 

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