We’ve had quite a journey since my kid first hitched a ride in my uterus. We’ve had homes, we’ve been homeless, we’ve kicked ass and taken names (mostly the taken names part – like Santa Claus scroll style), we’ve been honored and been lied to, we’ve been healthy and sick, we’ve defiantly walked in the rain and plowed on through uphill obstacle courses together, we’ve marched too many times for too many lost babies of too many lost mamas, we’ve forged friendships and learned new words together. This child is going to be four years old soon and I wanted to walk down memory lane of some of the places we’ve lived and known and loved.
- Stuyvesant Town, NYC. I didn’t even know you were there with me until move-out day. Such a quiet little being. I was packing up all of my stuff in boxes to send back to California for a month off before moving to my new position in a state I had never been to. I ran out of packing tape. It was around midnight and I walked in the humid and sparking Manhattan air to Rite-Aid to buy more. I don’t know why I also bought a pregnancy test. I never slept that night and I felt unreal the whole next day, traveling home. A few months later hurricane Sandy would flood that apartment, both baptized and heartbroken. Thank you Corrine.
- Wilmington, Delaware. Where I decided to know you and love you. I will never forget walking the streets of downtown – from home with my surly and (unintentionally) hilarious French roommate, to work in the downtown of the most segregated city I have ever lived in. Hearing white people talk dirt about Black people while carrying one in my womb – like gestating Jesus. You will be persecuted and you will be revered. You are immaculately uncorruptable even as they defile you for daring to exist. I started a lifelong conversation with you there and I never felt less scared and less alone even as almost everyone piled rocks onto my crumbling world. You became visible and never have I ever had anything before that so surely could not be taken away from me. Thank you Walnut and 11th.
- A yellow house in Fruitvale, Oakland. We moved in one week before you were due to arrive but it turned out to be only one day. I wonder if you will always have perfect timing. In three months I turned our lives around from being fired for being pregnant and from the couch-surfing, oasis-searching pilgrimage that would initiate me into exactly how much people hate single mothers. I landed a job over the phone and shocked all by walking in – a very round eight months pregnant. When confronted my eyes turned to steel and I said what of it? Implying – try me, I will tear your face off. Only planning to show the world the grace of being fired for being pregnant once. I made myself invaluable to that team by day and I posed nude for long hours at art classes by night – rebuilding our fortune from one penny. Then came one bumpy bus ride and a mile pulling my briefcase behind me home. After that, my water broke so loudly, I will never forget it. You were born in that bed that I had only just bought off Craigslist the night before. Thank you birthplace.
- The Secret Garden. Thank all gods that we found our garden. It has kept us from endless arguments through many ages and stages. It has been the invisible other parent teaching my child how to walk and dig, speed around with a wheelbarrow, swing a mattock around like an old pro. We have fallen into your pond and played hide and seek and lost and found each other many times, picked up worms and eaten from the never-ending buffet of fruits and veggies. It is not ours alone but it sure has felt like it. Our billion dollar backyard. Thank you garden.
- That borrowed apartment for a month. I didn’t think we would be homeless ever again but we somehow made it through once more with more than just a little bit of magic – three months worth this time – ending in one sweet month of care-taking a friend’s apartment. I saw the dark side again and said oh hello again I’ll see you later you don’t scare me anymore. Your crib was in the middle of a room with antique swords mounted all over the walls. Could not have felt more symbolic or more safe. Saying – try us universe, we will. TAKE. YOU. ON. You took your first real steps there. And so would my heart, which would practice for three more years until it could take off. Thank you John.
- My bed. The spot you were born. Where I’ve collapsed in tears because I don’t even know where to begin. Where I have watched myself meditate and grow strong enough to close doors on people we don’t need in our lives. Where I’ve cuddled you and where we practice for our world famous, leg balancing, acrobatic team. Where I’ve stared at the walls and asked why why why like a proper Jew. Where I’ve scrawled notes full of numbers that seem like they will never add up. Where you still nap for HOURS because – damnit – you are a good sleeper. Where a dear friend spends the night so I can go out on the prowl for midnight snacks, cool night air, to exchange looks with strangers and sneak myself into movies, dance/boxing/yoga classes, concerts and friends apartments. Thank you bed.
- Everywhere I follow you and you follow me, too. We are quite a pair. Quite a team. We have been through some real shit together and you have had to grow up too quickly sometimes. I’ve never trusted anyone more. I’ve never trusted myself so much before I found you. We love each other no matter what – and there sure has been a lot of what. We have been each other’s lighthouses and I’m so glad you are the one by my side. My little sidekick, I love you.