SWORDFERN
Rooted, I used to think.

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Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012 @ 9:11 am
Falling Behind



Snow falling in Vancouver. Dark, water flowing across the streets, and for a moment the rain changes to slush and then briefly light flakes that depart from the typical vertical plummet of rain.

I sit in a small, narrow sushi joint with my parents. I eat the sashimi that comes with my mother's dinner box. The child a more adventurous eater than the parent. I'm talking about my job and the shape of my career. I'm talking about rail switch design and potash and microhydro and projects that range from Kitimat to Regina.

And then she tells me that Carolyn is pregnant.

I wake nearly every night having drenched my t-shirt in sweat. I change in the dark, climb back into bed, and shiver in my damp sheets. I read about how this could be an early sign of menopause. Or HIV infection. Or hypoglycemia.

We have friends over for dinner, and I take little Oscar and bounce him on my knee. I smell his soft head and turn him around and he takes my glasses off my face and sucks on my knuckles with primal force.

My pregnant friends. Let's tally them up. Melis, Court, Theresa, Caren. Sally just had one on the front seat of their truck outside of the emergency room. Now Carolyn. God, I'm sure I've missed at least two others.

And here I am with night sweats and a blossoming career and not enough time to think about how a family fits into my life. Realizing that I have less than three years left to decide once and for all whether or not this is happening.

Knowing how left behind our my mother feels, her children not having weddings or babies or showers of any sort. Each present that she buys for one of her friends' daughters' children a stab in the heart. I'm letting them down.

But that's not a reason to go forth and become pregnant. What if it doesn't fit into our plans? D will probably start his masters next fall. I want to do a masters as well. How do you go to work and then night classes when you are breastfeeding?

I feel like I've lost 10 years somewhere. I should be thinking about starting my masters at age 22 not 32. I remember being about 11 years old, staying with family friends at their lakeside cabin in the ranchlands on the Okanagan. Me and Stephanie were changing into our bathing suits in the back room. Bunk beds and metal roofs and dogs roaming free. She proudly displayed her matching cotton underwear and training bra. She looks at me and shrugs, Well, it looks like you're a late bloomer.

How right she was.

She had a golf course wedding with 3 pink bridesmaids, a firefighter husband, two perfect daughters, a 3500 square foot custom-built home in suburbia, and a nearby acreage where they are in the process of building their 'dream home'.

And here I am in a two bedroom rental apartment, living in sin, and barren save for a cat. My chest still not requiring much more than her training bra.

Why am I lead to compare myself to them? To all of them?

I know in my heart that not having children will be a mistake. That I will have missed out on an essential life experience. To never feel the pride of walking down a street with my child riding on my hip, tears streaming down her face from a fall from her tricycle.

But I don't know how it fits into this, into where we are now. I don't want to do it here, in a city where we cannot afford more than one bedroom on one salary. But the plan is to be here for five years, as the city will pay for his masters and he needs to do that and it would be foolish to walk away from that. But five years is too long. Too long. The night sweats.

Snow falling, and I'm on the highway stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. Crawling at 40 kilometers per hour in conditions that I'd drive at 110 in the north. I look up into the snow and my focus shifts and glazes over in the mesmerizing patterns.

In the night, Alf reaches over in his sleep to put his paw on my arm. I move to give him more room, and he pushes up against me even more and returns his paw to my arm. This is a cat, this is a cat, how can he make me feel so loved?

I get up to change my shirt. Snow swirling in the dark. Alf pressing his nose to my leg.

What am I doing?


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