Friday, April 27, 2007

On the Radio

Here's your big chance to hear me talk on the radio. You can tune in online (click on "Listen Live") or, if you're within range, you can listen directly to WRNI, Rhode Island's NPR station, at 1290 AM (Providence) or 1230 AM (Westerly). My essay (which, mind you, was written shortly before I began this blog) will be aired three times on May 2nd (that's this coming Wednesday). Here are the times:

6:35 am
8:35 am
between 5:45 and 5:55 pm

If you miss the broadcast, you can still hear the essay, but without the intro or outro, as it were. It will be posted here, eventually.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

All In One Piece

I have no photos to show for my honeymoon, not of the hibiscus-lined hotel grounds of our first night's stay overlooking the town of Alajuela, not of the narrow soot-choked highway winding through the mountainous countryside the next morning, nor the small-statured Ticas (native Costa Ricans call themselves this) who walk along this and every road, night and day, in much larger numbers than you'd ever see in the States, unconcerned as cars and trucks and tractor trailers and tourists in their shiny rental cars swerve and careen through the tight corners. I have no photos of the seagulls gliding alongside our ferry across the bay, nor of the velvety beige cows with their long silken ears, grazing in the sun-bleached fields along the next stretch of road.

I have no picture of the dense, moist woods we hiked at Montezuma, with their six-foot ferns and moss and plant-encrusted trees, or the waterfall we swam under at hike's end, nor of the beach, with its black and white and pink and ochre-red stones, its miles of surf and rocky outcroppings, the orange-legged crabs scurrying in the underbrush. I don't have a picture of lovely Catalina, the eight-year-old girl who taught us kindergarten Spanish in the hotel pool, smiling in the jasmine-scented dusk, nor of J~, gazing at me with nothing short of adoration as the sun set golden on his face, greenery all around and reflected in his eyes. I don't have pictures of the long, ever more mountainous drive to La Fortuna, or the papaya orchard we walked beside there, adopted by one of the many sweet-natured and diminutive Tican dogs which followed us in our ramblings. We named this first dog Lindo Tigre (roughly "Handsome Tiger", after his stripes) and the others in the same fashion (Lindo Negra was black, Lindo Beagle (pronounced beeg-lay) was, of course, a beagle, Lindo Guapo was handsome-handsome, and Lindo Pocito -- you guessed it -- extra small).

I don't even have the one picture I snapped with my cell phone, of the Volcano Arenal, taken through the wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor window of our grand observatory bedroom. I have only the memory of us outstretched on the king-sized bed, ooh-ing and ah-ing as smoke rose sometimes in great explosive clouds, rocks tumbling at intervals, one by one down the mountain's cindery flank, raising puffs of dust during the day, glowing red and shattering, like fireworks, at night.

I don't have the picture of the volcano because my cell phone was stolen on what was to be our last full day in the country, along with a small backpack and another larger one containing several books and magazines, both of our wallets and passports, many art pens, two precious journals of mine, precious family photos J~ carried in his wallet, not to mention some cash (nada mucho), many credit cards, our driver's licenses, J~'s social security card, and our Costa Rican Spanish phrase book (including how to say, "Help, I've been robbed!" which would have come in handy with the five no-habla-Ingles police officers we had to communicate with in hand-gestures and kindergarten Spanish. (Thank you, Catalina!)

It happened on the drive back to Alajuela for our last night, while stopped at a road-side art gallery. We learned the hard way that a black knapsack hidden under a black sweatshirt in the backseat of a locked car in a tiny parking lot beside an art gallery in the middle of nowhere countryside is not safe. We didn´t notice anything amiss (except that the driver´s side door lock was inexplicably jammed) until twenty minutes down the road.

That day, a Friday, was made long by police reports and fingerprinting (of the car, of us), then, cancelling our flights, our cell phones, our credit cards, emailing and phoning family for logistical support. Luckily J~ had some cash and a single credit card in his pocket. But still, we would end up staying three extra days in order to go to the American embassy on Monday in hopes of securing temporary passports. There were moments of stress in which our lazy beach idyll, our hikes and swims and behind-closed-doors honeymoon moments seemed far away. But there was also fun we never would have had.

There was the tour of the coffee plantation (to you gardening enthusiasts: did you know that banana trees are nitrogen fixers?) There was a second Volcano visit (Poas), to the top this time, where we viewed the steaming sulphurous witch's cauldron lagoon where a hot lava pit once roiled. There was Chubascos, a restaurant off the tourist track (more Spanish practice with this one) where we had two delicious meals and contemplated returning for a third, opting instead for a plate of fresh pineapple in our hotel room, some chocolate-covered coffee beans, and a bad American movie with Spanish subtitles.

I don't have any of the other pictures because I left the battery to my camera behind by mistake. But the truth is, the pictures aren't the point. It's the memory, the recollection of the feelings, some of which no photo would ever capture. For instance, there was the sense, at the end of it all, that we are truly a team, truly a couple, and truly, most especially and most pricelessly: a family.

Speaking of family, J~ has an appointment Friday with the fertility doc for an expert read on his proverbial swimmers and their role in our wayward efforts at family planning. And I have an appointment Monday with my Fertility Friend calendar, where I will, yet again, chalk up my own monthly evidence on the subject. Join me, won't you?

In the meantime, I have but one thing to say:

It's good to be home.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Honeymoon Blues?

Usually when B~'s mother comes to pick B~ up for the weekend, J~ is still at work. Meanwhile, I busy myself upstairs so as to avoid awkward unpleasantries with the woman who jilted my man. Today was only a little bit different. This time she was picking B~ up for an entire week. And while I gathered suddenly urgent laundry from the bedroom floor, J~, home early from work, was downstairs with his heart in his socks, waving out the kitchen window as his ex-wife and ex-wife's husband drove off in his ex-car with his ex-son.

Okay, so it isn't his ex-son, but that's how it felt to him. Especially since recent talk of B~ moving in with his mother for the next school year has progressed to actual wheels-in-motion pre-plan planning. It isn't a done deal: there's a private school to check out yet, and a seemingly more stable mother to scrutinize as well. Even so, it's a painful subject for J~, and no surprise that our honeymoon begins with tears.

Actually, it wasn't until the second time he talked about his feelings that he cried. In between, it was me bawling my eyes out for what may seem like the lamest reason ever. I'll admit it to you because I must, because that's what a blog is for, right? I tell you everything. I consider myself duty-bound. So please don't hate me.

I cried because, in packing for the big trip, it hit home that I've been gaining weight, and I really and truly hate that. I've been eating too much and I've been doing it because there are things I don't want to feel, such as, for instance, these three:

1. My very not politically correct feelings about B~'s potential big move: Relief!

2. My reaction to yet another month of not (yet) pregnant: Sick disappointment. Maybe even anger!

3. The sinking knowledge that I need to make a change with what I do with my time, day in, day out: Fear!

The bottom line truth of it is, I've hit a rough patch. Compound that with the fact that I spend too much time alone, too much time trying not to notice everything I'm struggling with, and too much energy trying to mask it all from a thirteen-year-old boy with enough struggles of his own.

Being with J~ for a week straight, I know-- it's all going to come out. I warned him last night that I might have to cry a little each day of our honeymoon. He assured me he doesn't mind.

ME: Even if I cry the whole time?

HIM: In that case, I may have to rent you out to funerals in need of mourners.

ME: Alright, then, I'll pack something black.

And then later, when his tears had dried:

ME: Looks like we'll both be packing our funeral outfits.

Ah, who knows what this week will bring! We've booked the flights, a rental car, and a room for the first night. What we do after that is any one's guess.

It's not a conventional marriage, why should it be a conventional honeymoon?

It certainly isn't coming a moment too soon.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Google Maps

I couldn't remember my bank account user name the other day, so I guessed, and was prompted to choose a new name, then a new password, and a new safety question as well. It seemed strange, since I went through the same routine already recently, but I played along. Finally, I was into my account.

Only it wasn't my account at all.

It was A~ and K~'s.

If you're a long-time reader of this blog, then you might recall that A~ is my ex-husband, and K~ is the woman he had an affair with, the woman he left me for over a year ago.

I clicked a few links, and soon I found myself staring at the image of a cancelled check with both of their names on it, and an unfamiliar address.

Stunned, I called the bank.

Apparently, this was the same account A~ and I once shared, and since he has his own password, it never occurred to him (nor the bank, apparently) to erase mine.

Though it crossed my mind to mess around with their account, I didn't entertain the idea, nor did I consider keeping the password. I even resisted the urge to poke around in their financial records. I'm a very good girl. But I did jot down their address on a yellow post-it, which I stuck, quite prominently, to my desk.

I don't know why I did it. I like to think A~ is completely out of my life, that I could care less if I ever hear from him again. It feels safer this way. But I keep writing him letters. I never intend to mail them, but I don't throw them away, either.

I can't say it didn't hurt to see those two names lined up so intimately on a single check. I don't like the thought of them sharing a bank account, let alone a life, not to mention a more promising child-bearing future. She is ten years my junior and, my imagination cruelly suggests, probably ten times more fertile. And he is ten years too immature to become a father. He needs the lead time her youth affords.

Let's face it, I pushed for years to get him to think seriously about buying a house. He resisted; he evaded; only to admit, in the midst of our divorce, that he did so consciously. As much as he wanted his own home and land, as much as he enjoyed fantasizing about our dream place, he didn't really want it with me.

Then why did you marry me?
I might've screamed. Why did you try to have a child with me?

Which brings us back to all my unmailed letters, and the rest of my unanswered questions. Such as: Does he have any clue how deeply he hurt me? Were our full twelve years based entirely on denial and fear? Was his commitment to me, all along, a big fat lie? Or did we have a basically good thing, torn apart by the miscarriages, the trials of our final year?

The toughest and most compelling questions are the what-ifs. Especially: What if he'd communicated honestly with me? Where would we be now?

Perhaps because I'm a masochist, or perhaps because I'm desperate for clues to a possible future that never came to pass, I found myself typing the address from the yellow post-it into Google Maps, clicking over to satellite view, and zooming in as close as possible.

Not what I was hoping to see.

Again with my cruel imagination: I'm assuming he bought a house, a nice house in a quiet neighborhood. I'm assuming he's happy and prosperous and living the dreams that were once our shared dreams. I even imagine that she is pregnant, that they are engaged or already married. I hope, instead, (okay, maybe I'm not such a very good girl) that he's lost his job and is living with his girlfriend's parents, that his relationship is passionless and dull, or that she is having second thoughts about him, while he still works too much and buries his feelings and secretly wonders if he made a big mistake.

As much as my gut tells me I'm better off without him, and in spite of my deep gratitude for J~, I'm still pained by that niggling possibility: All that happily-ever-after stuff I hate to imagine A~ having with K~ -- it could've been us.

The bottom line is, I want to be done with this. I've tried blocking him out, I've tried focusing solely on my new found happiness, I've tried reminding myself what a loser A~ is and always was. But it's not doing the trick.

Perhaps the solution lies in letting go of any attempt to control the situation, or control myself. Maybe I need to insert a certain stack of unmailed letters into a big manila envelope. Maybe I need to write a few more, for good measure. Maybe I need to put to use a certain address written on a certain yellow post-it. Maybe this computer glitch was not so much curse as it was blessing.

Maybe this part of my story isn't as over as I once thought.

ps. to those of you who had your hopes up for me this cycle (I certainly had mine up): once again, no dice. Next time ovulation comes around, J~ and I will be belated-honeymooning in Costa Rica. Maybe the tropical air will do the trick.

You'll be the first to know.