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.

August 29, 2010

In my head lately

Things I have been thinking lately, in no particular order:

I can run 13 miles. I know this because I did it twice. The first time was fairly hellish. The second time, yesterday, was much better. I’m excited to do this with thousands of my closest friends in exactly two weeks (!!).

What if, when the baby comes, the person who picks him up from child care is also the first person home and has to walk the dog? How do we do both in a fast and efficient manner, where no one cries or has an accident on the rug?

Also, what kind of child care should we use?

Apparently we’re going to Italy in less than four weeks. Apparently one should make some loose itineraries when fortunate enough to have three days in Rome, five days on the Amalfi Coast, and four days in Tuscany. One now has plans for the long Labor Day weekend…

Throwing a party for 40 people on your rooftop deck is stressful, but realizing you have 40 friends who want to spend a Saturday night on your roof is pretty darn awesome.

Sometimes, when I’m watching TV at night, I look to the entrance of the hallway off the living room, and I see a tiny little boy standing there in a sleeper, holding a blanket and sucking his thumb.

I suspect adopting a baby from Korea is going to bring some really good new friendships into our lives.

I have seen the Chicago skyline from the north many, many times, but it never gets less breathtaking, especially the first time it’s approached on foot, after running six miles south on the lakefront path. Turning the bend around the domino tables, and pow—I actually consider it a kind of reward.

Stella actually understands when it’s the weekend and that that should equal a ride to the dog beach. She follows us around the house, and she starts dancing in place and wagging her pointy hound head if I change my clothes. Apparently something is working inside that golf-ball-sized brain.

I do not approve of darkness at 8 p.m.

If I worked at an adoption agency in Seoul and my responsibility was to match infants with their parents, what kinds of photos of those parents would I want to see?

Where is the child who will become our child right this very second?


This past week, we went to an outdoor concert at Millennium Park downtown. David Gray and Ray Lamontagne—oh yes, we were excited. We packed our picnic basket (including a clandestine bottle of wine under the cloth napkins), hoisted up our camping chairs, and I grabbed a light scarf because it was unseasonably cool, daytime highs in the 70s. We claimed a patch of turf close to the stage and proceeded to enjoy a really fabulous show, while the sun set behind the skyline and couples held hands and swayed together and someone, somewhere, smoked some pot.

Ray played my favorite song of his, a sad, quiet one with a violin called “Jolene.” There is this plaintive line that just pulls at the proverbial heartstrings, that I always sing along to: “Still don’t know what love means.” And so I sang along to it in my camping chair, with my plastic cup of cabernet, and suddenly it had a new meaning. I thought that it was very true, that there is a type of love that I don’t know yet, the meaning and experience of which I don’t understand. I know love, but not in all its manifestations, not yet. We are so, so incredibly on the cusp, sometimes I’m in awe of it.

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August 1, 2010

In a suburban Starbucks, waiting

** This post was written on Jan. 11, 2010.**

I’m sitting in one of those Starbucks-within-a-grocery store, in a nondescript ghost town of a suburb near an airport. Through the window there is pale January sunlight, icy snow piled up on an outdoor café table, a parking lot, a gas station, a Long John Silver’s. There’s no WiFi here, so my plan to stay on top of work email this morning has been scrapped. I edited some articles, and now I have about an hour to kill before John’s meeting is over and he picks me up for lunch.

Having both of our individual meetings with the caseworker in one day is easiest—what with our one car, which John drives to work, and the fact that I can’t even remember the last time I drove it. (I probably should practice before any attempt to pilot it out to the suburbs.) So I’m here while he has his meeting, then, after lunch, I’ll have mine. I’ll take a cab to the Blue Line afterward and head home.

We are adopting a baby. I’m going to type it again: We are adopting a baby. It doesn’t seem real, somehow, although this is our second visit with our caseworker, and we’ve already written two not-inconsequentially sized checks, penned our autobiographies, had our agreement for agency services notarized. My parents know (I could not resist telling them). Our five personal references know. John’s parents don’t know yet, and I think that’s because again, somehow, it just doesn’t seem all that real. That’s largely because we still have at least a year and a half to go, I think. We don’t know who our child is yet. (Although it’s occurred to me that he might be conceived already, might be growing and developing somewhere on the other side of the world, in South Korea. And yes, in my mind, he is a he.)

I am excited. Well, duh, of course, right? But I want to write it here, how very excited I am. We are going to be parents. We will be three (plus one dog). Somewhere there is a child who will be born without parents who can keep him, and we will be the parents who can.

The decision to have a child is one I’ve been wrestling with for many years now (as long-time readers of this site know!). At some point in spring 2009, I felt ready. I had been inching toward readiness, one tiny little step at a time, seeing babies and smiling, holding babies and feeling good inside, getting warmer, warmer, warmer. John had been ready for a few years, and I caught up. There was a time when I didn’t know if I’d ever want children. I still don’t feel any yearning to be pregnant. But I want to be a parent. I think we’re going to be pretty good at it. I know we want to love a child. We’re ready to start a new chapter—no, it’s more than that; it’s starting the next part of the book, with many chapters contained within.

I am excited. And I’m scared; I have a good idea of the changes to my life that are coming, since the majority of my friends have walked this path before me. I still cherish my alone time. Hitting the gym for an hour, four or five days a week, is a priority for me. I love going out to eat (and not at 5 p.m.). There’s my job, all the strides I’ve made in my career. Sitting next to me here in Starbucks are two stay-at-home moms with their little girls running among the tables, and nothing’s changed for me in that regard; I do not think I want that to be my 8–5 life, at least not every day.

But I’ve come to a place where I’m ready to embrace a new way of living, a new Amy. She won’t visit the gym so regularly, but in the warm months, she’ll take the jogging stroller out along the lake. I think she’ll still love her job, but she’ll often miss her child while she’s there. She won’t care as much about late-night dining or being disconnected from work email for a morning. She will be somebody’s mom. And now my heart has jumped into my throat a little, imagining that, and I’m smiling at no one. We are going to be parents. We are adopting a baby.

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