Saturday, February 08, 2014


It's been a very strange week.
First of all, how do you write about something that is relatively new and exciting without spoiling it or giving it away? And secondly, how do you not write about what you're going through, when writing is what helps you understand it? I've been confused and obtuse, I know.
But this week was bad. Mercury, I'm told, went into retrograde this week, and how.
This week I thought I was pregnant.
Which I know sounds crazy for someone my age. But not entirely impossible. In fact, over 700 women in the US last year, my age and older, gave birth to babies.
Now, here's the thing: I have two fantastic grown children. And despite the fact that my daughter begs me on a regular basis to adopt a Chinese babygirl, so that she can have a sister, I've never felt in any way interested in having another child. But this is what's so strange; after the two days of throwing up and the sore boobs and the nausea and the talking to people about it (my mother was particularly lovely and supportive, it has to be said) and the perfunctory "oh jeez, I hope I'm not pregnant" and the jokes "wow, you'll do well at the movies with all those discount tickets" and after the relief of discovering I wasn't, I spent a few days in something like mourning. Me. My children have left home and both seem reasonably happy. There's a man I really like. I have a job I do well. A good relationship with my ex-husband. Apart from the usual financial worries (college tuition fees, etc), all is well in the world. I would say that I am the happiest I have been in a long, long time.
And yet, this week, I found myself in tears often and over very little, dry-mouthed, and seriously emotional. Somehow, somewhere, some small part of me (or a part larger than I'd reckoned on) was really, really sad that I wasn't pregnant.
I'm sure this sounds strange and it was as strange for me to experience it as it is to write it down here.
Even today, I was driving back from Santa Barbara where I'd been to a filmmaker panel with a client, and the sky was heavy and grey, and I was listening to heartbreaking opera, and I felt suddenly bereft. Really, really sad. So sad, in fact, that I couldn't speak to the boy on the phone. There was a huge, huge void and I didn't know what it was. "Go walk. Go be in nature. Do some yoga" he said. And sweetly even called me back to check on me. But it wasn't till I got home and scooped up the dogs and made it up to my local hike off of Mulholland, where we walked as the sun set, and the clouds were rolling in from the North, until I hear the birds that sounded like larks and watched the red hawks swoop and thought about Vaughn Williams, that I realized I'd been in some kind of strange, silent, detached mourning.
What relief it is to realize that walking in the world can re-sync you up with the earth, can make rhythms right again, can recalibrate your discord.
My sister had a yorkshire terrier that had many, many phantom pregnancies. Her belly would grow and she would display all the signs of pregnancy and yet she wasn't pregnant. I suddenly understand how that feels.
There is a whole bigger psychological issue at play here. Something about missing one's babies once they've moved out, and the sexiness of pregnancy (for me, I never looked better than when I was pregnant: I was one of the lucky ones), and, I suppose, the somewhat alluring notion of holding on to one's youth and fertility.
There's a line in Dr Zhivago which I like (and oddly enough, I watched this movie again during the two "pregnant" days)

Lara: Wouldn't it have been lovely if we'd met before?
Zhivago: Before we did? Yes.
Lara: We'd have got married, had a house and children. If we'd had children, Yuri, would you like a boy or girl?
Zhivago: I think we may go mad if we think about all that.
Lara: I shall always think about it.
It's such a weird thing to think about. It's so presumptuous, I know. Ridiculous really. But I think having spent 28 years with one man, essentially most of one's childbearing years, it does make you think, what if (things had been different).

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