Saturday, October 15, 2016
Life by Numbers
96 92 87 88 84 77 62 83 88 94.
27 and 4.
3 to 5.
My life has been ruled by numbers since June. The number of grams my daughter weighed when she was born. The fluctuating oxygen satuaration in her small body causing my own breath to catch and alarms to ring when it dipped below 86. The number of weeks and days when she was born. The day she was supposed to be born. The lifeline of social security her birthweight qualified our family for. The number of miles from here to our new home. The number of years I was willing to give Austin. The number of days I have left here.
I never expected to leave this city with two more people than when I came. A dog, sure, and she's coming along too. But a life partner and daughter? Never. It would have been a fool's bet.
You couldn't have told me I would be choosing another cold state after leaving this warm and sticky one. I would have argued and smirked saying never under my breath.
We were supposed to be living in Vegas by now, you know. That was our plan. We were going to work hard and stack cash and reset our accounts and stroll hand in hand under the bright neon lights in the middle of the desert. We were going to get off work at 2am, run home to change and grab the dog and then drive 5 hours through the night, trying to outrun the sun at our backs to the Pacific.
While I may not be strolling Flamingo Ave., I do see the hours before the sun now, the night and I so friendly, so familiar. But instead of heading to California, humming along to Ryan Adams on the car radio with the windows rolled down, I am crooning the Lumineers to my newborn, my daughter, with the widest and most restless eyes I've ever known. Hers are the color of the Atlantic, gray and dark blue and stormy. They are pulling us east, not west, towards family and financially easier footing.
I fought it. I wanted to continue on with our plans. I wanted to see it through and carry her along with us. But our daughter is mighty. She has changed our course. And I feel now, so much more than ever before, like I have absolutely no control. I have no say.
I do not know what to do next. I was not prepared for this shift in the direction of my life. And while I am in love with her, I am in awe of her, and I am forever grateful for the universe telling me and my plans to take a back seat and let it drive (because I never really had a hand on the wheel in the first place), I still grieve for the life I wanted for myself that did not include a baby. And I accept and expect judgement from that statement. However, I believe we are complex enough, multifaceted enough to hold two (or more!) feelings within us at once. I can love my daughter endlessly, and still wistfully look down the other path and life that could have been.
We're leaving this town in two weeks. There are so many memories here, good and bad. So many experiences that have forever changed me. I'm a Mom now. And I have to take it minute by minute, second by second, placing one unsure foot in front of the other until the next chapter unfolds itself, presenting my humble little family with its next set of challenges and opportunities.
I accomplished the one thing I wanted in this town though, one which will allow me to leave without any regret: I lived the last 46 months the best I could, and in such a way that allowed me to continue writing a truly interesting story.