Friday, May 19, 2006

Walkin' up a tightrope

I was reading Katie's last entry and I thought, "yeah, me too." I lingered in the comments section and realized that I had more to say.

I tell myself that I'm indifferent, that the pain and sadness that comes with infertility and childlessness is tolerable, that I'm used to it, that it doesn't effect my day to day existence. Then something happens to prove that I'm delusional.

I have things put away in the main living areas of my house, but the den is a disaster with office stuff everywhere. The "guest" bedroom is a mess where the movers piled clothes, books, and miscellaneous items into a corner. There are many things I can't find yet, but I know they're here, so I don't worry. P asks me for his large CD case and I can't find it anywhere. I tell him that it'll turn up and I stop looking when I have to actually move heavy things.

Then I realize that I can't locate my brown bag of clothes. This bag has a long history of meaning for me. When I was little, my mom used it to put treats in when we went to Disneyland. We had no money and I don't know how long it took my mom to save the money to take us on that adventure, but I bet it was awhile. She had things all planned out. We couldn't afford to eat there, so she packed bread, peanut butter, jelly, fruit, etc., and we went back to our hotel for meals. She couldn't afford souvenirs, so she packed the brown bag full of little toys, candies, and books that she could dole out as necessary. The blue bag was prettiest, but it was full of clothes. The brown bag is just special.

Sometime during a clean-out, years later, I come across the brown bag in my mom's donate pile. No way is this bag being donated, so I rescue it. For the longest time it held my baby pillow and blanket. Then it held t-shirts from school plays and events. Then it held nothing but a ticket from my first concert (The Village People, in 1997, to my chagrin) and a spot in the back of various closets. Still, it's the brown bag and I can't get rid of it.

The people who lived in our last house before us must have had a baby because they were on the Huggies diaper mailing list. I passed along as many diapers as possible to friends, but there were many inappropriately sized diapers that I tucked into a closet. I do have the packrat gene. Somehow this stash grew without me buying a thing and I began to store these little diapers in the brown bag.

P and I had begun trying for a baby, but were not buying any baby items. He was against it, and I went along. Eventually, he okayed an outfit that was on sale at baby gap and it was lovingly added to the brown treat bag. Every now and then, when I'm feeling hopeful, I'll give in to the impulse to buy something sweet for a child who may be. The diapers eventually came out of the bag as the bag filled up with tiny clothes. There was one cycle that I had "a feeling" about as I bought a tiny onesie and I put it in my dresser drawer, away from the items that were just hope items. I don't know if that makes any sense, but this blue striped onesie was special. That baby was real. Of course, I was wrong, and there was no baby, and the onesie made it into the bag. There are little things like that in there.

The bag lived in the spare bedroom for the years we lived in the old house up on a shelf in a closet. I didn't spend much time in that room. I only ever had one guest, my mom, and the room didn't get much use. It housed "the big dog" that my friend's daughter played with when she came over, and it stored a ton of books, blankets, and a TV in the same closet that held the brown bag. It got tucked away on a high shelf and I really didn't spend much time thinking about it. I don't take the clothes out and look at them. I don't think about them being up there, packed away and waiting. I don't long to put them on a real baby. I just have them. It's all abstract.

Yet when I can't locate this bag in our new house, I panic. I mean really panic. Everything that I've squirreled away since we started trying is missing, and I lose it. It's as if having that brown bag was a sort of safety that allowed me not to think about things that hurt to think about. It was there in the background like a life preserver on the side of the pool. You like to see it there, but you don't count on using it.

I see things that were in the same closet spread out among the den, the guest room, and the treadmill room. I look under piles and inside closets. I check the basement even though I know the only stuff down there is plastic containers that hold my teaching things and Christmas things. My heart begins to pound a little harder, and I go back upstairs. My life preserver is gone and the babies who do not exist are destined for nakedness and now I have to think about it.

I do finally locate the bag and I exhale a little harder than normal. It may have been in a pile of clothes, in with the shoes, under the fax machine, by the books I haven't read yet; it doesn't matter where it was or which closet becomes it's new home. It's here. It made the move, and my world, (though in a state of moving disarray,) is intact.

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