Notes from the Road
Part Eight: Cleveland
I can’t stop thinking about The Argonauts. I’m also reading Written on the Body, by Jeanette Winterson, which is all about queer love. I’m steeping myself in this stuff. I should be ready to drink soon.
As we all know, and let’s say it together: I never wanted a kid. When I got pregnant again, in 2014, I knew that even if I did want another kid, logistically there was no way I could make it work. They say babies are born with a loaf of bread under each arm, but honestly, getting a baby out who isn’t carrying extra stuff is hard enough. Also, as someone who used to suffer from chronic yeast infections, I don’t need bread up there.
When Monty was maybe two I went through a I-want-another-baby phase. The great thing about phases, like adolescence, is you just have to wait for them to pass. Could you imagine me with two kids? I can barely handle the one, and he doesn’t even live with me. Plus, I’m only going to be able to afford college and therapy for one kid.
One of my dearest friends is really good at selling the idea of a person. I would say she’s good at selling people, but she’s not a sex-trafficker. When her friends have birthdays, or other milestone events, she posts flowing prose to Facebook about their merits as people and friends. Either all her friends are superlative people, or she’s just a really good salesperson. Or maybe she’s the superlative person. Maybe it’s a virtue of her superlativity that allows her to see the best in people. Anyway, once or twice she has sung the praises of a pregnant friend, extoling the many reasons why this person and their partner are the right people to bring another person into the world. She tells us why these humans should be making more humans. It’s such a lovely concept. To love someone so much that you think “There needs to be more people like you in the world.”
Imagine if our bodies could only reproduce if we genuinely wanted to make people like the people we love (or, I suppose like ourselves, in the case of single-by-choice parents).
The day after I left my husband, I went into rehearsals for a play. The night before the final two shows I woke up covered in hives. Head to toe. (For anyone who saw A View from the Bridge at South Coast Rep on our final Sunday, I apologize. I was on a shit ton of Benadryl and coffee.) I had effectively avoided thinking much about the ruin I had made of my marriage (because I didn’t want to be married in the first place), and my body was like, “You think you can avoid your deep-seated shame and guilt? Cool. Here’s a physical manifestation of it.”
If your subconscious and your body can conspire to punish you, shouldn’t they also be able to reward you? I don’t know. I’m having trouble with this argument because I realize it discounts single-by-choice parents. One would have to love oneself so much that they felt there should be more of themselves in the world. I’m all for self-love (both emotional and physical), but loving yourself so much that you think there should be more of you seems Hitleresque (even though I know the argument can be made that he actually loathed himself, but let’s try to stay on point, people). Loving someone else to that effect is beautiful and romantic. Also, I recognize that wonderful parents who have adopted children also end up on the losing end of this hypothetical journey, but let’s pretend science can figure it out. We can’t really think about this too deeply or it falls apart.
In the first episode or two of the achingly boring new remake of Lost in Space on Netflix, a voiceover informs us that traveling as far as they have defies all laws of physics, therefore “someone must have rewritten the laws.” Okay. Let’s go with that.
Could you imagine the heartbreak this would cause? Reproduction would act as a litmus test for the depths of love. “If you loved me enough, one of use would be pregnant by now.”
Anyway, my entire point is, I think I’m sad that no one has ever loved me enough to want to make more of me. And now that I’m solidly in my late-mid, early-late 30s (ssh, just go with it), my window for making more of me is closing, and I hear myself thinking that and then remember that I don’t even want to make more of me (or more of anyone else for that matter). But the point is not about having another kid. It’s about wanting someone to want to have a kid with me. And what if I do fall in love with someone so much that I want to make more of them and it’s too late? And no, I’m not freezing my eggs, because at this point they’re probably all pickled, and also, I believe in putting money toward adopting children rather than defying medical science to make brand new children. That’s my own personal belief for my own personal body. You go do whatever you want with your body. I literally don’t care.
Ultimately, I suppose adoption and surrogacy are where this hypothetical theory falls apart. I can’t even think of what the junky science voice-over to explain it away would be.
In The Argonauts, I don’t remember Maggie Nelson attributing her new desire to have a child with her love for Harry explicitly. She may have. But regardless, what I took from her story is that it wasn’t until she met and fell in love with Harry that she decided she wanted to have a baby. She loves Harry so much she wanted to make more of Harry. And it doesn’t matter that their baby won’t share Harry’s genetic stuff. Harry is Iggy’s parent. Harry is helping to create another human. Iggy will be representative of Harry regardless of genetics. That is enough.
Having Monty has been a lesson in “I don’t know where the fuck life is going to take me,” and realizing I’m gay as fuck at 37-years-old has been a lesson in “I don’t know who the fuck I’m going to find attractive tomorrow” (though, to be honest, I have a pretty good idea, because my tastes are pretty specific and pretty narrow). And maybe I will love someone enough to want to make more of them, and chances are good that we will have the same reproductive organs, making procreating impossible (until they figure out how to splice eggs together?). And maybe there will be a child in the world at that point who won’t be our genetic stuff, but who we can help raise to be like us enough that we see each other in them.
But by then, I’ll probably be in my late-early, mid-late 40s, and Monty will be an adolescent, and I’ll be spending most of my energy precisely getting him to not be like me that I won’t have the space for another one anyway. And I’ll be content with someone loving me enough to want to sit with me on the couch and not watch Lost in Space.