Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Talking to this guy

I was in the hallway in high school, talking to this guy. We weren’t flirting. He and I knew each other pretty well. We did plays together and were both crazy in our own way. He asked me what I was planning after graduation. Go to college, I guess. I’m sure to most people it seemed like a privilege that I was born into, even if it wasn’t what I wanted. But I didn’t know how to not do what I thought was expected of me, except I failed again and again. I woke up the next year chronically confused by thesis statements and acting objectives, lost in lecture halls, Proust, bottles and Barthes. That day in the gray hallway when this guy said how great it was I was going to college, I just shook my head. What would you rather do instead, he asked. Get married and have babies. It sounded stupid and felt wrong but it was what I wanted even though there was no one to marry and my parents were no model for young love. They’d wed at twenty—in my baby photos my long-haired mother looks like a young teen, her wide eyes sad. My father was no gem. (But I loved him.) I traded in my hope, fell into the fire of the wrong direction—fought till I could swim the flames upstream. And here I am over two decades later, seven neighbors with babies. Babies in my arms all the time. But none of them mine.

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