I once knew an old Army guy who told me that no one reads past the first page and no one listens past the first minute. When I started this blog I just tossed paragraph after paragraph into the mix, talking way too long as I now think.
Look at this one, my first post ever, put up in December of ’07, when the i-Phone was just a pup. Over 700 words and now I cut myself off after 400. People are in a hurry, I just assume, and nobody wants to have to scroll endlessly down. But was that NOT true back then? Did we feel more leisurely in 2007? Read this and see if you’re fatigued afterward. Maybe there are lessons for us all tucked in here.
Recently the two secretaries of my college class sent an email to us all begging for news. How were we really?they wanted to know. Well let’s see, is what I thought. I’m how old, 57? I might be in better shape than my mom was at my age since women didn’t even walk in the old days, never mind exercise. Men didn’t either, and they all had these little fat tummies which they wore under their belts for some reason.
Everybody was soft, takin’ it easy after the War maybe – AND they all smoked their brains out. My mother smoked in a closed car on the hour-long ride to our cousins’ house on every holiday; smoked madly for 50 years when she got a bad bronchial infection and was put on bed rest. She dragged a little TV into her room to watch the Watergate hearings. “That man is disgusting!” she yelled at one point about poor old Nixon, “and this is disgusting too!” she said, looking at her cigarette. She never smoked again and lived until her 80th birthday party when she died within the space of about ten seconds, a little plate of cookies on her lap.
I guess I expect to live way up into my 80s too – if I can start paying pay better attention and not step off the curb into the path of some big old bus.
So in general I feel pretty much as I did at 19, though God knows what color my hair really is. Still, it’s fun to grow older. I lie in bed at 5 in the morning when the alarm first goes off and time-travel all the way back to crib days. I like that: the way we are hot air balloons, still tethered but throwing off a little more ballast every day; starting to rise enough so that we can sometimes almost glimpse the whole landscape.
My oldest girl wanted to have her baby at home last May and I was a wreck. We could feel him kick when we place a hand on her tummy and sometimes even feel his little spine right through her skin. We drummed on his little bottom: “Are you OK?” we said the way you would to someone trapped in a cave…
Along with not knowing what anybody’s real hair color is anymore I find we don’t know what natural labor is like. The doctors hurry everyone along with their Pitocin and then Oops the labor slowed down! and Oops the baby looks upset! and then it’s C-sections all around.
I was proud of my girl for wanting to do it God’s own way with her two midwives. They had said “Put sheets you don’t care about on the bed and under those a set of waterproof sheets and under THOSE your very favorite sheets in the world.” (I love that because well, you know, there’s the progression of most thing right there: peace at the end of the struggle.)
As it turned out, the medical establishment won anyway. They took their tests when the baby was a week late and said the amniotic fluid was draining clear away. So in the end it was Induced labor and Pitocin and an Epidural after all – everything but the dread C-section.
I wrote all that in my email to the college and they printed like three lines of it in the Alumnae Quarterly.
The moral of the story: How I am is how they are, meaning my children, and right now anyway my children are just fine and that new baby smiles away alone his crib like he was getting paid to do it. Even his big brother three is growing rather fond of him. He said recently that despite popular belief you actually do get to go back inside your mother’s belly. “WHEN YOU DIE!” he yelled happily and doesn’t that sound like a pretty nice deal come to think of it?
So there it was in 2007: 763 words. Have I changed or did the world? (And isn’t THAT the question again and again in life!)