Tuesday, November 14, 2017
I love the internet.
I love black tea.
I love the internet and I love black tea and those are two reasons why I’m having the super-obvious realization I’m going to share with you now.
Every so often, about once or twice a year, I go through this weird hormonal surge that has me suffering over the thought of being a mother. I dig through archives and archives of stories written before me in the grand chasms of the internet. Why have them? What’s so great about it? And, on the other side, the child-free (not child-less), why do people elect to skip out?
I am not someone who wants them. At 26 people may still think me a fool and that biology is going to slap me in the face with baby cravings but I just don’t see it happening.
I always told God it wasn’t happening with me. And if it was going to happen, it better be immaculate fucking conception. I better have no goddamned idea where the sperm materialized from, and everyone better know I might as well have been in a nunnery if it happened.
And if for some reason I happened with a baby bump after bumping around, well hell, I am one-hundred-and-ten-percent in support of women having the choice for abortion, but I couldn’t do it. I am one romantic-cheesy-ass and I would see it as my fucking destiny – even if it isn’t the destiny I envisioned. And believe you me, I have taken the steps to have in place the most effective birth control this side of tube-tying. Just waiting it out ‘till I’m not longer too “young” to be voluntarily sterile.
Tonight is one of those nights I’m pouring through all this, through both sides, in some terrible torturous dance to make myself feel heard and affirmed. It’s too simple to have a quick conversation with those who agree with me – I want to hear the horror stories of those who were sitting on the fence, who never knew if they wanted to be parents. I swim around in and lap up every delicious detail of their pain. God it’s invigorating. On the flip side, I’m also thumbing through accounts of people whose very definition of happiness expanded beyond their wildest dreams when their little bundle of joy came into being. Tab after tab open of people sharing stories why the precious moments are just the best thing in the world. I stretch and I smile and I cry and I feel fucking all of it.
And today I had the double dose of black tea. My caffeine sensitivity is what’s currently fueling this, so forgive me if what I’m saying sounds like it’s coming from some altered state.
But you know, I’ve found that when I’m channeling stuff through, loud and clear, it IS an altered state. It’s a state where I shed away the filters and self-perception and all that story about what life is and what my life is and who I’m supposed to be…
And sometimes things just sneak up on you.
I was neck-and-three-hours-deep into this story-reading-trance, when finally the Pandora decided to start playing something worth a damn.
I snapped my neck up to attention, closed my eyes, put my hands over my heart, and shut my laptop screen. Two seconds later of course, I had to get up and pee, so I pushed pause and hustled to the porcelain throne. Pushed pause on Pandora? This is craziness!
When I came back, unburdened by the distractions of biology, I turned on the visual screen to see just what music was playing. “Shamanic Dream #2”.
Oh my GOD, Erika, do you have to be so fucking predictable?
I laugh at myself.
This shit is too funny sometimes.
I close my eyes again and allow myself to be taken away by the steady and soothing beat. I think about the things that have brought me to this moment, all the hubbub of the last few months I’ve found too intense to write about. I’ve even censored it from my personal journal. There’ve been some serious highs and lows I haven’t begun processing.
I think about the projects I’m currently working on, one of which includes some strange desire to make a Nahuatl-Spanish verb dictionary. The beautiful man I’m learning the language from has taught over 20,000 students over the course of a few decades – he’s the person you’ll read about in the online articles.
I think about the studies I’m undertaking, those of which have been guided by an ethical woman whom I have the highest respect for. She recently brought up an idea that’s been mulling around in my head: In this accelerating world, there’s little time to tap out and think about committing to your craft tomorrow. We find ourselves with less and less of it. At what point are you going to get serious about the gifts you came into the world with, about fiercely honoring who you are and backing up what you’re about? There’s no time to slack with that, this is serious shit.
I think about the cultural upbringing and background of those who influenced me when I was young. Was my decision to be childless shaped by the role models I had available to me? Was it further cemented by my desire to throw myself into career and knowing that path was an option?
And then it hits me.
The music changes.
Holy SHIT, all of this IS an option!
There was an exercise we did at work today as a part of our equity, inclusion, and diversity initiative. If that sounds like some liberal-social-justice thing, it’s because it is and I work for an organization that values that.
Anyhow, one part of it involved the usual exercise: Categorize yourself based on the identity you’re most aware of every day. There were the hot-buttons you’d expect: Race/Ethnicity, Sexuality, Gender… but what really got me was the SLEW of women (and one man) that completely overtook the Gender corner. It sounds really stupid of me, but apparently there are a LOT of women who think about themselves in terms of being women. That, for them, is their most prominent identity.
This is not my experience. This is not my experience at all. I grew up in a household where my brothers and sister and I loved to play with cars just as much as Barbies. But our favorite thing, of course, was wrestling. We’d tumble and scuffle and laugh and shout and keep going until one of us cried and we’d have to hush up before our parents came in with their reprimands. I don’t have any memory of my siblings and I treating each other any differently, and for what it’s worth, I don’t remember my parents doing that, either. Early childhood was spoiled and carefree (I only hated folding my clothes, but heck, everyone did).
And then, it hit like a wave: Oh my god. This is remarkable.
It is remarkable I live in a time where I have 100% uncompromising choice in my life, and I feel fully able and capable of that choice. It is remarkable I can flit around, experience different living situations, spend expendable cash on whatever forest-fairy-fancies grab my attention, EAT spinach leaves and creamy vegan sauces and not give a flying FUCK about what anyone else thinks my life should be. This is privilege!
And I grab my goddamn shaman sweater and count my blessings and thank the stars above like I have time and again. I thank them for having me remain invisible to the opposite gender during my super-vulnerably-formative years. I didn’t kiss anyone ‘til I was nearly 19 and that was because I ASKED. Thank the creative forces of the universe I didn’t get caught up with relationships and have them mess with my sense of self until I was at least a bit more solidified.
And recovering-control-freak-inside-of-me, thank you for not allowing your life to be swooped aside or overtaken by any partnership. I did NOT have that additional layer of challenge to fight through, did NOT have to reclaim my own self-identity from another. I think of the Eartha Kitt clip on love and compromise and I laugh along with her.
I am thankful to live in extraordinary times when there are enough women who have walked all the pre-determined paths before me that I don’t even have to think about being a woman. I know enough people who are childless that I don’t have to think about any pushback for being child-free. So much social conditioning has been cracked enough that I can sit here at near three in the morning & laugh & listen to “Shamanic Dream”.
This life is presenting me opportunity the likes of which other women, hell, other PEOPLE have never seen. God-fucking-thank-you.
I am privileged enough to have had an early childhood experience without the gender lens, and that alone has served me infinite times over. I grew up in a world where that was possible.
I’m no activist and I’m not someone you’ll see posting much in ways of fury-inducing articles that are so in vogue now, but I am someone who observes and am continually fascinated by what’s going on around us. There’s some crazed magic happening, I tell you.
All kinds of women’s circles and women’s events and women’s gatherings happen, and that’s cool. They happen and I have immediate access to them because I’m cisgendered and have a vagina. Alright, that’s fine. I’m just letting y’all know, some of us don’t have 100% access to our societally-assigned gender, and not all of it is from the damages of the harsh patriarchy. Some of it IS from invisible threads of progress.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some Nahuatl to translate.