Everything Takes Forever: A Story of Waiting (Part 17)

Most people form positive associations with ice-cream. Today, however, as I stare down at my gleaming dome of Belgian chocolate, I wonder if I would sooner dissolve into a puddle of tears before it melts into a gooey milkshake.

No, I will not get emotional. Not at my favorite Häagen-Dazs cafe in the middle of an upscale shopping mall.

I text my husband, who’s at work. “I saw Dr C,” I begin.

“How did it go? Everything OK?” comes his reply.

I pause. That is a tough question to answer, and is contingent upon how one defines ‘OK.’ It’s certainly nothing life-threatening, so in that sense, I’d check the ‘OK’ box. But how do I explain this heaviness in my heart that can’t be assuaged with some Häagen-Dazs?

He calls me back before I can formulate a coherent answer. “What happened? Wasn’t it just a routine check?” he asks.

“Yep,” I bite my lip. Persistent months of mid-cycle bleeding had concerned me enough to make an appointment to see my ob-gyn, but I’d remained hopeful it was just some manifestation of PMS and hormones out of whack. The worst-case scenario would be cancer or some other troublesome condition that would require an invasive procedure. So no, the worst hasn’t happened.

Trouble is, not-the-worst can still feel pretty terrible. I plunge my long silver spoon into my dessert, as if that might keep it from melting.

“Seems I have some polyps. They’re benign and apparently not uncommon for women around my age,” I elaborate, feeling old as that phrase escapes my lips. “So we’ll just monitor the situation for now.”

“Phew,” he says. “That’s good news, right?”

“Yes, but—”

“But what? By the way, where are you?”

“Ion Orchard. Having ice-cream.”

He sighs in that way that he does whenever he knows the implication of my words or actions. Such as my impromptu urge to travel downtown for dessert on a random weekday afternoon. “Hang in there, I’m coming over. Talk later.”

By the time he arrives, I’m buoyed by the double hits of caffeine and sugar, having ingested both my ice-cream and a cup of Americano, so he finds me in a much calmer, even chirpy state.

“What’s bothering you?” he asks, in that no-nonsense-give-me-the-deets tone of his, as he gratefully accepts a glass of water and a menu from the attentive waiter.

“We can’t have kids anymore,” I blurt.

Certainly not a revelation he was expecting, judging from his raised eyebrows. In a graphic novel, the thought bubble above his head would probably contain a huge question mark.

“As in, it’ll be complicated, with the polyps issue,” I go on.

He looks at me, confused. “But we don’t want kids anymore. You yourself said you were done. So how’s that relevant?”

“I’m not upset,” I say, surprised by the defensive tone in my voice. “It’s just, barely a few years ago when we had Belle, I had no polyps, and now I do.”

“And?”

“And in a short period, I went from being able to have kids, to not being able to—if I were to change my mind.”

“But have you changed your mind?”

I consider this question carefully. The answer’s clearly no, but that doesn’t seem to cushion the impact of my new reality. What am I grieving, really? Several more years of fertility I thought I had?

Ferris Bueller springs to mind and I see him, pajama-clad and staring into the camera, uttering the all-too-familiar platitudes. Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

“I haven’t changed my mind, but I don’t know why this still feels sad to me,” I admit.

The husband sighs again, semi-exasperated but mostly sympathetic. “It’s OK,” he says, patting my head while I hold back my tears. He makes a comment about the Sephora paper bag next to me, stuffed with impulse purchases, and the distraction makes me laugh.

The irony of my situation isn’t lost on me, however. Perhaps it’s the finality of closing a chapter that’s making me wistful. There used to be just Rachel BK (before kids) and Rachel AK (after kids). Today, though, a new era begins: Rachel NMK (no more kids). Maybe this is how some women feel when they enter the menopause, I don’t know. But I make a mental note to stop wishing away monthly periods and the excruciating cramps, because somehow they still make you feel like you.

We order another scoop of ice-cream, not saying very much for the rest of the afternoon.

[Continued from Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14, Part 15 and Part 16]

Image source: Pixabay

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Everything Takes Forever: A Story of Waiting (Part 16)

[Continued from Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13, Part 14, and Part 15]

That damn dream again. It was years ago—singular, inconsequential, illogical—but it’s stayed at the back of my mind, refusing to fade from memory.

I’m sitting in a hotel room with green patterned wallpaper. Everything’s sort of out of alignment in the way that picture frames are slanted and door knobs are oddly placed and purposefully out of reach. When I stare hard enough at the walls, they melt a little and threaten to close in on me.

I’m in some sort of maze or sick escape room situation. This ornate room is reminiscent of Victor Hugo’s Places des Vosges apartment, except I’m at the Grand Hyatt, even if I have no idea how I arrived at that knowledge. I try to exit the room, but each doorway leads me deeper into a labyrinth of hallways.

In the next scene, I’m at the pool, presumably on holiday at a resort. It’s a nice sort of urban oasis, though the motel-like blocks flanking this one main pool are low-rise and people are chilling on balconies. I’m with someone from my past, and his presence troubles me. Maybe he’s telling me this is our last vacation together, or something in that vein. There is something final and absolute about being in that pool at that specific moment. Enjoy it while it lasts, is the message, but I’m unable to.

In the next and final scene, I’m fleeing. I’m desperate to get away from the mixture of humiliation, sadness, anxiety, and fear that’s bubbling inside me. Along the way, I spot a friendly face from a distance. Someone is waving and calling out to me and at first I think it’s a neighbor because he’s standing in front of a laundry line, in what looks to be a backyard. However, as I approach, I see that he’s that someone from the pool.

He seems like a different person—for one, he’s completely dry and is acting as if whatever conversation or agreement we had earlier at the pool never happened—but he’s eager to tell me something.

I’m relieved to see him and I listen in. But then he breaks into a fit of hysterical laughter that is at once frightening and condescending. “I believed you were better than this,” I say, before turning to run.

As my bare feet pound the ground, his laughter trails me all the way. It echoes in my ears long after I’m jolted awake.

I still remember that crazy hotel room with its green-patterned walls threatening to melt into me. The very pool scene where I felt compelled to put on a happy face even if I was dying inside. However, the thing that haunts me most is that humiliating, maniacal laughter.

Everything about this damn dream chills me to the bone to this day, and I’m almost angry at my inability to simply forget about it. I’ve certainly had dreams I’ve struggled to remember, but never this one. This dream will likely follow me to my grave.

Which is why I may as well write about it.

[to be continued]

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What Now? Five Things I’ve Learned about Writing

832 days.

Exactly the number of days that elapsed between publication of the first book and completion of the sequel’s first full draft. That works out to 2 years and 102 days, most of spent not writing anything at all.

Anyhoodle, I wouldn’t call 832 days a long time (I mean, Anne Boleyn had a longer stint in her famously short reign as Queen of England), but it was during this period that I learned a good deal about writing, and about the kind of writer I am.

Here are five of them for a start.  Continue reading