I used to write a journal. Now I hammer out mini stories and pages on real-life experiences and feelings on my laptop and save them away in a folder for future reference. I usually forget about them for a while, and sometimes, over time, the stories fit together like a written jigsaw puzzle. The following four stories were each written at the exact moment they happened, and together form an evolution of some sort, a story that is still in writing.
Just One Drink After Work
“You tell me you don't love me over a cup of coffee, And I just have to look away, A million miles between us, Planets crashing to dust, I just let it fade away” – Garbage, Cup of Coffee
Although it was me telling you that this wasn’t going to work out, over a pint of Guinness, and you telling me that you just wanted to see me happy, and if that meant me being alone or with another man, then that was what needed to happen. Then we both cried and hugged and decided that we could spend one more night together before it was all over, one more night where we held each other tightly, one more day spent cuddling and laughing before it was time to let go. And yes, it’s been a few days, and yes, we see each other at work, but it’s still hard. I do miss you, I do miss you holding me tight and telling me you love me and that there is no one else that makes you feel the way I do. But we have to be strong, we have to pull through this, I have to go and figure out what I really want from my life and you need to do the same. Maybe this is just a break and that next week we will be right back where we started again. But what I haven’t told you is that I am late, and I need to bite the bullet and take this test, hoping and praying that it is negative.
It first happened months ago. A group of us went to a random bar in the East Village after work, and after multiple beers and shots we ended up kissing in the bar, in front of everyone. You stayed with me that night, and I was adamant it wouldn’t happen again. We had obviously been attracted to each other for a while before this happened, we would chat and talk about music and life in general. But the whole Valentine’s Day incident started a slow running roller coaster ride that neither of us could stop, especially when it gained momentum and started speeding down hills and climbing back up other ones. There is something to say about feeling lonely and knowing that there will always be someone to answer your calls, at whatever time of day or night (and this works both ways). But were we just lonely or was it more than that at this point?
I didn’t want a secret relationship with you, and I didn’t want a relationship with someone I worked with. I resisted and told myself I wasn’t falling in love, and you just waited patiently, confused about why, but still there. And neither of us seemed to give up; I knew the passion between us was like a fire that couldn’t be stomped out just like that. I don’t know why I am always trying to run away, but that is the story of my life. Protect myself from anything that may end in sadness.
For the past month or so things have started to change. We have spent a lot of nights together, drinking, hanging out, going on “adventures” to different places, seeing different things. Laughing and having fun, you carrying me home when I was too drunk to walk, me making sure that I got you home when you were too drunk to make sense. You looking after me when my cat passed away, and telling me to not cry anymore because you couldn’t stand seeing me so sad. Us hiding away in our favourite secret bar after work, keeping up our secret relationship, although everyone knew something was going on, even if they couldn’t actually confirm it. There was something that tied us together, looks, smiles, and a force that neither of us could push away, not right then. But then it all became too much for me. You live life day to day; I need to plan some kind of future for myself. I was getting scared of what I was ultimately feeling and I realised I needed to free us both from this, so that we could move on in different directions, while still remaining friends and excellent work colleagues. But how?
I began to get upset and angry about everything, and you began to try to make me angry and hurt me. And it came to a point where neither of us were happy anymore, and if we didn’t sort it out we were both going to end up hating each other, which would make work the worst place on earth for both of us. So as the adults that we sometimes were we decided to talk about it properly, to part ways, to let each other go and to let our hearts fix themselves. I was surprised at how well we both reacted, and how well we have been keeping to our promise since. It helps that I haven’t been drinking this week, as it makes it easier to go straight home after work and not give in to the “one drink” which leads to three and then a cab home together and sometimes sex, sometimes not. I want to keep this momentum going, and not fail and fall into your arms again, as I have been doing over the past few months. You deserve so much better than this.
And so the test is positive. How did I get to the age of 35 without this ever happening, and now have to deal with this? And no, I cannot have a child and will not have a child right now. I feel so damn stupid. What on earth was I thinking?? So now I will have to go through another experience I have wanted to avoid for most of my adult life. This isn’t really an adventure, more like a nightmare while awake.
“All the lilies bloomed and blossomed, Wilted and they're shivering, I can't stop their withering, Oh, this world is a war” – Hole, Petals
One more cup of (herbal) tea
This time a few months ago I would usually wake up on Monday’s with a splitting headache and a nauseous stomach as well as achy legs. Two doubles followed by Guinness and multiple large shots of whiskey being the culprits. You can stop drinking for years but you never, ever forget what a hangover feels like, do you? That sick feeling that you did this to yourself, so there is no way you can’t wallow in it and feel sorry for yourself. You have to get up and walk out that door and function like a normal person at work, and hope that you make it through to the end of the night. Tomorrow will always be another day, a day when you will feel like yourself again. And then it all starts over, like a vicious circle you really don’t want to break, because it is way too much fun (until it becomes less fun, but that is an entirely different chapter, or book).
The last time I sat down to write an essay about life in general I had just taken a pregnancy test. A positive pregnancy test. A test so positive that the two lines appeared within a second of me peeing on the tip; telling me that I was under no circumstance not pregnant and that the achy boobs and the fact that literally anything could start tears rolling down my face at any given moment, were not just signs that I was going to have a really bad period, worse than I have ever had before. No, this wasn’t just a scare. I was really pregnant. And my first thoughts were “I can’t do this – please get this out of me as soon as possible – how can I have a child – I am never going to be able to do this!!!”.
Those thoughts lasted about 12 hours.
And now I am nearly 12 weeks pregnant, and my Monday mornings consist of me waking up with achy legs from the two doubles I did over the weekend and a bottomless pit of hunger because if I don’t eat every 4 hours of so my body screams at me for MORE. You know that type of hunger when you haven’t eaten for a day and your head hurts and you feel like you are going to collapse? Yes, that’s how I feel after four hours of not eating. Little fig-sized munchkin definitely has a voracious appetite! Which doesn’t bother me in the slightest because all this not drinking and not smoking and not going out is actually leaving me with spare money that I can spend on good food in restaurants. Eating out! FOOD. Everything tastes so much better and my sense of smell is so good that any type of fragrant smell makes me gasp and any type of slight stink makes me want to vomit. I’m so glad my near constant nausea has not lead to any vomiting, because if it had I would literally be stuck with my face in the toilet all day due to all of the strong smells I walk through. Take the subway, for example, at any given time there will always be the following in your car: someone smelling of BO, someone eating something that smells really strongly, someone who poured a bottle of perfume all over themselves and someone who bought a jacket at a secondhand shop and didn’t bother to have it dry-cleaned. Thankfully there are also bakeries and flowers and laundries and Lush shops and other places that smell so deliciously delicious that they counter the smell of garbage on the streets and the blocked drains after a rain storm and the smell of dust from all of the construction on the street. City smells… Nothing like them!
Six more months and I will give birth to a little boy or a little girl. My own child that I will love and care for and educate and promise to give as good of a life as I can to. A little being that is half of me and half of him that I already love more than anything or anyone I have ever loved in my life. Over the next six months I am going to get bigger, and happier, and grumpier and more and more tired of the city. I am going to continue being a vegetarian (I mean it’s been 17 years already), as the idea of ingesting any meat or fish still makes me want to vomit, but I am a lot more aware of what I eat nowadays and what I should be eating more of. And I also had forgotten how happy I was when I was sober (minus the times that I felt alienated and alone because all of my friends were out drinking and partying). I am so much more productive, and sleep better and just am generally happier. Of course, this time round I am sober for a very different reason than I was last time, and it makes it all the more exciting and important. Right now in my life there is nothing more important than this little munchkin that is growing inside of me. I’ve also noticed that my bullshit acceptance tolerance factor has lowered itself so much that I don’t accept any. Not anymore. Either I will walk away or just open my mouth and tell you quite plainly to stop bullshitting and to leave me alone. It’s quite liberating, this telling people exactly how I feel and think about things. I should have tried it much earlier!
Once again, herbal tea has replaced the post-work beer and shot, and bed with a book (and crackers and crisps and string cheese) has replaced hanging out until 4am. And nothing feels better than sipping that chamomile tea, knowing that this is life as it is going to be for the foreseeable future (minus the crying and the lack of sleep that will come in six months). To be honest the whole idea of even being in a bar at 4am just made me feel like vomiting. Thanks morning-which-should-be-all-day sickness!
Love is Everything
This is the story of a story that could have never happened, or at least could have not panned out the way it did, and still is. One day, last Valentine’s Day to be more precise, you and I had a night that we thought would only be that: one night. Instead it turned into a few nights here and there, and then more frequent nights, and then days, and then it was us. You and me together, for real, in a proper relationship.
I can’t imagine not waking up next to you every morning and tickling you so that you wake up too and kiss me and tell me that you love me. I can’t imagine going to sleep at night without you holding me tight and making sure I dream special dreams. I can’t imagine spending any holiday without you. And I can’t imagine life without the rapidly growing little human that we created inside me. And then life together with our little daughter, loving her and loving each other.
Who would have thought last year that by Thanksgiving of this year I would not only be telling a man that I loved him and meaning it with all my heart, but that I would also be pregnant and so very, very, very happy?
Who would have thought that Christmas would have been spent together, that you would bring me a tree home late at night as a surprise and that I would show you all my own personal Christmas traditions? This one was just a taste for all those that will come in the future together: you, me and our child.
This is not a story that can fit on one page, two or even three. This is the beginning of a life time of stories and anecdotes and images and changes. This is one that will be updated as life goes on, with additions and departures, with moves and with aging. This is the story of two lives and then three and maybe more, together under one roof and bound by something that had up to now only played hide and seek with me. What used to be torturous and unfair is now what makes my heart beat every day.
Our next steps are being created together, a home for us and a home for our child, a place of peace and quiet and music and art and creativity, a place where we can be ourselves, together or alone. Space that will be for everyone. Clean and pretty and happy and most importantly: ours.
It’s finally time to live life to its full extent: no regrets and no more running away. This is what it was always meant to be like; it just took me a while to make my way here.
One more cup of very strong coffee please
It’s been exactly a year. Exactly a year since I had that dream that I was having a baby, a year since I woke up and ran to Walgreens in my pyjamas. A year since I went to Planned Parenthood and listened to the nurse give me the results of my test. A year since my life turned upside down and most definitely for the better. Our little Luna is now four months old and I actually can’t imagine my life, our life, without her in it. I wake up in the morning thinking of her, I go to sleep thinking of her, I dream of her, and every waking moment is with her. I don’t WANT to be without her. She’s our little wonder, our munchkin, our actual reason for living.
I say “our life” because that is what it is. Me, you, her, us. We now form a unit, a united front, together as one. I don’t care if that sounds soppy or silly, it’s just what it is. And we couldn’t be happier! This is what it was always meant to be like. And I really, really hope that everyone finds this in their lifetime, because everything I may have lived before this just pales in comparison.