Do you remember your first time discussing the all-important topic: ‘Am I going to have kids or not’?
I believe my first embarkment on the topic of this important life decision was when I was 9 years old, playing tag with my little brother and our two friends in the courtyard of a 3 story, marble and granite house in the heart of Mysore, India.
Our families had moved to India a few months earlier from Efland, North Carolina, and we were sharing the space of this house that, by most Indians’ standards, was no less than a mansion. The courtyard at the base of the house was fenced in, and although we could see traffic moving past and people walking by, we were separated from it all by walls and gates.
There was plenty of space for the 4 of us to scamper about, and as we darted back and forth, we were able to discuss–though somewhat breathlessly–the prospect of children in our adult futures.
Vraja, the twin brother of my best friend Tarini, asked me, “So do you think you’re going to have kids?” He seemed both enthralled and embarrassed by being the one to breach the topic. “I don’t know if I will… maybe!” he cocked his head to one side, before dashing out of reach of my pursuing brother, Gaura.
I raced after him, in order to follow up on the discussion. “Nah,” I yelled, gasping for breath. “I don’t think I’m going to have kids! Because I don’t think I would ever want to get married.”
Later, I would take Tarini aside to divulge my reasoning behind not getting married and having kids when I was a grown up.
“You see…” I explained to her, “My sister told me that the way you have to have a kid is the man has to stick his… ‘thing’ inside the lady!”
Tarini’s face was filled with the horror that I had been anticipating.
“I don’t EVER want that to happen to me,” I said.
She looked ill. “Me NEITHER.”
And there we sat, the two of us, 8 and 9 years old, on the rooftop of a house in Mysore India, considering our baby-less and husband-less futures.
Once I had made that decision, I didn’t worry about it or give it much further thought until many years later.
Once I had been able to come to terms with HOW babies were made, than it became a decision I would consider and discuss once again. Between the ages of 20 and 30, I would pendulum back and forth between theoretical futures.
There was the, “I MUST have a baby! NOW!”
Followed by, “I can’t ever have kids! There’s too much I want to do with my life! I’ll never NOT want to be accomplishing cool stuff, when would I ever have time for a kid??”
So when Addison and I were faced with the reality that there was a living, pulsing being that we had created, swimming around inside of me, the world stopped. We sat together in silence and in conversation, in wonder and in horror.
There was the cold, calculating voice that seemed to whisper to both of us, “You have a choice, you don’t HAVE to have this baby… You could be free of it if you really wanted to.”
I didn’t want to feel like that was a choice. I had never considered abortion to be an option for me, even though actually being pregnant gave me a newfound understanding and compassion for those who do choose to have abortions.
I just wanted to know that this child was a certainty, so I could than begin to move forward accordingly.
Addison left a day and a half after we discovered I was pregnant, headed back to Austin. We were pretty sure baby was staying. We weren’t sure where I was going, however.
All I really wanted was to “go home.” I was nauseous, homesick, tired of being in a different country. I also felt like I wanted to keep going. I hadn’t actually made it to Brazil!
I went back to share Watson’s room with him, and Addison went to get some space, some time to digest the news apart from me.
I called friends, family members, and one time burst into tears on Watson’s bed while he patted me awkwardly, cheering me by being sweet and silly.
I wanted to go home, but I also wanted to keep cycling. I wanted to fly to L.A. and bike up to Alaska. I wanted to fly down to Brazil and bike around Brazil before it was “too late”. But between pregnancy nausea and the Zika virus, those two options were out of the question.
I considered going to Vermont and staying with Addison’s mother for a while.
But finally, I got a message from Addison. His reflection time had led him to the turning point that he would later call, “Getting my head out of my ass.”
“This child is an expression of our love,” he said. “You are the only person in this world I would want to have a baby with right now, and I want you to come home.”
3 days later, I was in the airport and headed to Austin, my bicycle broken down into a box, my baby in my belly. We had all traveled across Mexico together, and now we were all going home.
Throughout the past 6 months, things have been happening in my life and with Addison that I find myself hesitant to talk about in this blog. It just seems so gory and personal. I imagine that I will write with full honesty for my book, and then once it’s published and released to the world, I can only hope that my visceral story details will bring insight, smiles, relief, understanding and perhaps a feeling of ‘not being alone in this crazy world’ to my readers.
But perhaps I will never get so real with the faceless crowd. Perhaps it’s better to keep some semblance of a wall up.
All of that being said, my inability to write completely honestly makes it hard to write about what happened next after my arrival to Playa del Carmen.
I left off with the story of Watson and I in a bar, just after I had taken my pregnancy test and thought surely the double lines were really a single line with a very faint second line…
Addison would be arriving to visit me in Playa del Carmen, in just two days. He would stay in town with me for 4 days and then I would continue south into Belize and the rest of Central of America.
“It is HOT TODAY…” I exclaimed, as Watson and I walked out to a cafe for breakfast the next day.
“Jeez, it’s only spring,” Watson commented. “Wait’ll it hits summer here!”
“Thanks but no thanks. This is bad enough for me.”
The sounds of our footsteps scuffing on the pavement and the occasional scooter passing us filled the muggy air. I had been feeling incredibly sensitive to the heat, and my nausea was increasing. I felt slightly ill all day every day.
I didn’t like the sound of hearing myself complain about the heat constantly, but it just seemed truly unbearable to me. By 10 am, the best I could do was hide in Watson’s room, his fan oscillating in a lonely manner above my head.
I felt a growing sense of dread at Addison’s arrival. I hoped being face to face would clear up some of the inexplicable feelings of panic I was having about our relationship. But at the same time it didn’t really matter. We would be together for a few days, and then once I again I would hit the road and we wouldn’t see eachother for a couple more months.
“I am excited,” I allowed. “But also kind of dreading it. I’m going to have to live with the things he’s decided he needs to do while I’m away, and I’m just not handling it very gracefully.”
It was so strange to be eating breakfast side by side with other white people. Australian, English, American, French.
Why in the world would anyone want to come here for vacation? I caught myself thinking, as I looked around at all of the tourists. It’s hot, crowded, smells weird…
I stopped my thoughts.
Jeez, what is wrong with me? Why am I getting so down on Mexico?
I had begun to dread the thought of continuing my cycle tour in Central America. Cycle touring in Mexico had not been nearly as enjoyable as my cycle tour across the U.S., and I had no illusions that Central American roads and cities would be much better–or at all cooler. If anything, it was just going to get more and more hot the further south I went.
I was fantasizing about mountains, cool spring breezes drifting through pine needles, chickadees singing, their voices carrying through the forest dreamily.
“So when do you head to Alaska?” I asked Watson. He was leaving Playa del Carmen soon, and going to work on a fishing boat in some incredibly tiny town in Alaska.
“I gave the guys at the brewery my 2 months notice almost a month ago,” Watson said. He had moved down to Playa to help start a brewery with a couple of Argentinian guys who were friends with the owner of the Thirsty Planet Brewery in Austin where Watson had been working before. “But they still haven’t gotten my replacement down here to start training. I told ’em they’d better get their shit together, ’cause come the end of this month I am outta here!” He cut through the air with his hand, indicating a swift exit.
Watson was as keen to get out of Mexico as I was, except he was headed North and I was headed… South.
I sighed. “I feel ya.”
He shook his head, grinning humorlessly. “Yeah I SAY that… but really, if they do need me to stay longer, I probably will. I couldn’t leave them high and dry like that.” He sucked in some smoothie noisily and banged the cup down. “But goddamit guys, get your shit together!” He laughed.
Before I knew it, Friday March 18th had arrived, and I was clinging to Watson for dear life on the back of his motorcycle as we whipped through the sunny, Playa del Carmen traffic on our way to the Cancun airport.
Along the way, we stopped to see Pescadores, the brewery where Watson worked.
Once we arrived at the airport, Watson dropped me off and headed back to get some work done. I wandered around the airport, trying to figure out where to wait for arrivals.
I waited for what felt like a long time, watching white tourist after white tourist emerge from the arrivals area, looking dazed, confused, excited, or all of the above. I was nervous in a weird, not-very-fun way.
I’m not sure if this is a Mexican thing, but the screens that would have told me when the various flights were arriving, were inside the set of sliding, double doors that passengers were constantly exiting out of, but through which I was not supposed to go through.
I stood as close as I could to the doors to try and catch sight of Addison’s flight number on the screen inside, but finally I gave up and asked a guard if I could go in to look at the screen. He went to look at the computer for me and came back, telling me the flight number was not listed on the arrival screen.
“It does not mean that flight is not arriving,” he told me, “it’s just not on the screen.”
I nodded in confusion. How am I supposed to know if Addison’s flight is arriving at all then? I wondered, feeling irked.
But then, as I was being led to a desk to try and find out more, a tall, bearded, viking looking man emerged from the crowd.
“There you are!” I cried, before I buried my face in Addison’s big chest.
We made our way out to the bus area, paying an extravagant amount for a tiny bottle of water (I had forgotten to bring any sustenance with me). It was nice to see Addison, but also kind of awkward. I felt like there was a big, hairy gorilla standing between us, with a bad case of flatulence. I tried to pretend the gorilla wasn’t there, and smiled at Addison, who smiled back.
We took a bus back to Playa del Carmen, and the whole time I tried not to talk about the things that were disturbing me so deeply. They were the sort of things that I could easily convince myself I was making up.
We were staying at an air bnb apartment near downtown Playa.
I feel such an overwhelming sense of nausea and a retchfulness (no, that is not a word–yes, I made it up) when I remember that apartment and the bathroom…
It’s a big reason why I’ve procrastinated on writing this bit of the story, because it happens at this retchful apartment…
I’m going to get through this section really fast, before I throw up, so bear with me… (also, I will not reread to spell check certain sections, so I apologize in advance for grammatical errors)
As in many toilets in Mexico, we were asked not to flush the toilet paper. So imagine a hot, not-well-ventilated bathroom with a trash can full of poopy and peepee covered toilet paper. Add the distinct aroma of the blue chemical water that filled the toilet itself, and evil smelling chemical deodorizers hanging off the toilet, and voila…! You have the perfect recipe for never wanting to go into the bathroom.
If I absolutely had to get in there, I would pull my pants down before entering, and then plug my nose throughout the transaction. Afterwards I would hurl myself out of the bathroom, wheezing and gagging and jamming my face out of a window.
Addison was only going to be in Playa del Carmen for 4 days. So during this time we had to connect (since we wouldn’t be seeing eachother for another 2 months while I cycled across Central America), work out the status of our relationship, process, and also try to enjoy ourselves.
We visited the ocean everyday, ate at restaurants and ice cream shops, played music with Watson out on the beach, I took Addison to drink his first fresh coconut from a street vendor and scoop the sweet, juicy meat out after they split it in two for him, we spent hours crying and processing in our apartment and then, the day before Addison’s flight back to Austin, we also decided I should take another pregnancy test.
Watson was visiting, noodling around on Addison’s guitar, while I walked down the street to buy another pregnancy test. This time I knew what it was called, and did not have much difficultly in procuring one.
When I got back to to the apartment I looked at the two men, who were looking back at me.
“It’s a moment of truth guys,” I told them.
Addison looked anxious.
I unpacked the pregnancy test, plugged my nose, and ducked into the fumes-of-hell bathroom.
When I emerged, it was with feelings I had not expected…
I felt guilty.
I felt like maybe I had ruined Addison life.
I thought maybe he would resent me forever, and our relationship would crumble because of it.
“It’s positive,” I told the guys, who had both stopped what they were doing to stare at me.
I think Watson crowed.
But I was looking at Addison’s face. He had something like horror written across it.
I handed him the test stick with the two lines on it.
“I read the first pregnancy test wrong,” I told them.
Watson stared at me. “You read the first one WRONG?? How do you even do that??”
“I don’t know!” I cried. “I’ve never taken a pregnancy test before! I just assumed it was cheap, faulty, didn’t work well… I thought the ‘second line’ wasn’t really a line!”
Addison was gazing down at the test stick in silence. Than he started googling images for “a positive results pregnancy test”.
“I purposely bought a different brand of test this time,” I told them both. “And seeing a different one do exactly the same thing made me realize that I just got the first one wrong.”
I went and sat down on the couch with Watson. “Watson!” I yelled. “I’m pregnant! What are we going to do??”
He gaped at me. “Why are you coming over to me?? You should go to Addison! I’m getting out of here.”
I looked at Addison. “I’m giving Addison space. He’s in shock. And I feel bad for him.”
“YOU feel bad for ADDISON??” Watson gawped.
“He’s younger than me,” I said simply. “I’m more ready for the idea of being pregnant than he is.”
During all of this, Addison was occasionally grunting, agreeing or disagreeing with something that was being said, but I don’t really remember much else coming out of him.
Watson packed up and headed for the door. “You should name the kid Marcelles,” he said definitively, before walking out.
Addison chuckled dryly. “We’ll consider it. See ya later dude.”
We looked at eachother in the silence that followed. “Holy shit.”
I’m sorry to say, but there’ll have to be a Part III… maybe a Part IV??