The Purple of Life

She told me to hold on to the purple in my life.

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Location: Chicago, United States

I'm a 37-year-old editor and city dweller, wife and mother, moderately liberal and radically optimistic. I would fill my perfect day with a cup of coffee and the Op Ed section, a flea market and the playground, a run along Lake Michigan, a walk through the neighborhood with my son and my greyhound, a Cuban dinner and a bottle of red with my husband, and an evening flight to some European city. I wouldn't be picky about which one.

September 7, 2006

Whatever comes next

On Saturday morning I woke up before 10 a.m. I ate a bowl of Raisin Nut Bran cereal and drank a mug of coffee while reading the Letters to the Editor in the Tribune. John left to play football with some friends. I made the bed, put on a pair of cropped cargo pants and a green shirt and my flat espadrille slip-ons from H&M, the ones with the black sequins (note: they are better-looking than they sound here). I brushed my teeth and combed my hair, smeared on some tinted moisturizer, applied mascara and reddish lipstick. Grabbed a purse and the iPod (that day: Death Cab for Cutie, the Garden State soundtrack, Coldplay, Lucy Kaplansky), petted the dog, and left to catch a southbound bus. I disembarked in Lakeview, walked into a medical center, and had blood drawn that will reveal whether I’m a carrier of the cystic fibrosis gene and whether I’m immune to rubella. Because if you happen to catch rubella (are the chances of this high?) when you’re pregnant, the fetus could go deaf.

To the few people who know about my little weekend jaunt (these people do not include my mother, who recently sighed to me, “The tree in our front yard is the perfect size for a swing… I can just picture our grandchildren out there, can’t you?”), I’ve explained that John’s biological clock is ticking. And it’s true; it is. He’s ready. As he puts it, we’re not getting any younger. The silvery hairs sprouting from my right temple attest to that, although at 30 I don’t feel the least bit old, not really. But anyway, he’s ready, and on some days, or at certain times on certain days, I am, too.

The blood test was a big mental hurdle for me. My doctor wrote the requisition slip for the test last January, when I went in for my annual exam, and it’s been sitting in my desk drawer since then. Sometimes I’d idly think of going to get it done. John would ask every once in awhile—“Hey, have you had that test yet?”—and I’d assure him that he’d be the first to know when I did. One of these times, he added helpfully, “It’s not really a big deal… it’s not like going off the pill, or anything. Just a blood test.”

About a month ago, John and I had a Big Talk, and we decided to think more seriously about trying to conceive this year. I cannot possibly explain how this made me feel: scared and excited and terrified and in love and overwhelmed. Bitter, because I’m female and therefore will be more greatly affected by parenthood than my husband, whether I like it or not. Frustrated, because I wish I had a damn crystal ball that could show me what will happen to my job and my health and my marriage and my life, if we do this thing.

I think we will do this thing. After all, I placed my arm on the padded bar and let a friendly technician tie a rubber tube around my bicep. He took my blood and it hardly hurt at all. And I thought about the shoe-shopping I was going to do next, and decided to stop at Jamba Juice on the way. And I thought about how this was the first time I was making a (very small) sacrifice in the name of parenthood, and how I was offering up a (very small) part of my body for a child I can barely begin to dream of. It was a strange realization, a strange moment of clarity.

So yes, I think we will do this thing, or attempt to, anyway. But first, first, we are taking a trip, an idea we’ve been toying with for the past few months: a trip to Spain. Two of my great-grandparents are from Spain, I have a decent grip on the language, and the country’s been on both my list and John’s for awhile. We’re going to spend twelve days there, hanging out in Barcelona, then renting a car to explore the seaside villages along the Costa Brava, the mountains of the Pyrenees, and the old glamour of San Sebastian. I am planning like a fiend, amassing notes and photocopies and recommendations, caught up in the goosebumpy thrill of imagining tiny medieval villages and beautiful, unknown cities and endless cups of wine. First, the trip. Then, whatever comes next.



Blogger eliza said...

This is a very touching entry. And have fun in Spain!

6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And maybe little "purple" will bet started in Spain, in a tiny medieval seaside romantic. Have a fabulous journey.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Jen in Boston said...

I don't mean to sidestep your entry, but I saw your lovely grey on flickr and wanted some info on getting one in the Chicago area. I'll be moving there at the end of the month, buying a house, and hopefully getting a greyhound.

Your post is quite lovely. Good luck! Enjoy your trip.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Hi Jen in Boston,

Our greyhound is from Greyhounds Only here in Chicago: It's a terrific adoption organization. Send me an email if you have any questions, and good luck in your move!

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Ashley said...

this is a beautiful post.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Libby said...

Spain sounds so wonderful and romantic. Have a great trip!

9:01 PM  

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