Sunday, August 28, 2011

Reality bites

Oh, torment us.

Three weeks of Saturdays in grief have shown us a pattern that yesterday we were finally able - and disappointed - to name: there's nowhere to run to get away from what IS.

We came home from the hospital on a Saturday. Unnerved and unsettled, still shocked and with no idea of what to do next, we both reverted to frantic house cleaning. We cleaned for hours, until we sweated, scrubbing and tidying and dusting and vacuuming and picking things up. (Couples house cleaning sprees are very unusual for us. Granted, Paul had been in charge of all things domestic while I was pregnant because I wasn't to lift more than 10 pounds or exert myself in any way, and with so very many plates to juggle sometimes one would fall. He did his best, but by that point our house was a little grungy, not fit for company.) We had company that evening for dinner, but once they left, we were left again with the "now whats".

The following Saturday we went to Westport. It was nice. It was a pre-decided-upon destination.

Yesterday? Oy. We both sat around for hours, inside, outside, TV, quiet, computer. Restless. I felt like we needed to go somewhere. No real thought as to where. Nothing sounded quite right. He needed a part for his truck, so a trip to Cummins south of Chehalis was a good start. Oops. Saturday. Gates closed tight, locked. Now what? Drive. I had the wheel. I drove south on I-5. Earlier in the day I mentioned Portland, but scoffed because I was just off the worst part of the summer cold Paul brought home, that which the night before nearly had me on my knees, so sick. Yesterday was a little better, but still headache-y, coughing, chest a little sore. No other suggestions arose, so south I drove, asking periodically for an itinerary check. Rest stop? Ok, I can do that. Quick diversion, sore bodies from all the sitting (rest area was near Vancouver, so we'd already driven an hour and a half, over 80 miles, in the Subaru that just isn't comfortable anymore).

Then? Drive. Portland's freeway system requires quick decision making, with several branch points. "South to Salem or to Portland?" "Portland." "Ok. Oregon State Fair is going on now in Salem. Calvin's Hats has a booth. Our babies' names are displayed on a card there. We could go to the fair, although that's excessive. How far is it to Salem?" "I don't know, a couple of hours?" "Hmm. Oh, no, should we go to Highway 30 or Highway 26? Quick, this freeway splits right around the corner!" "26." "Ok. This is the way I used to go to Mom and John's when they lived in Beaverton." "This is how we'd go to Tillamook." "Hmm. Want to go to Tillamook?" "I don't know." So I didn't change lanes. I drove. I essentially drove us on a non-stop loop around Portland metro, south past the Rose Quarter, around the south side, and back up north. Suddenly we were headed back through the ugly part of north Portland, back toward Vancouver, WA, across the river. "Huh. We drove all the way down to Portland and now we're headed back north." Yes.

My realization through the quiet of this ridiculous drive: it *feels* like there should be someplace we could go, within driving distance, where suddenly all of the past three weeks would be undone, where we'd find the portal that would take us back in time, where our reality could be different. I'd still be pregnant. The babies would still be with us. Everything would be leading toward a bright future with our children, full of shopping for essentials, finally finding two rear facing car seats that would fit our petite and problematic Forester backseat, finding out the sexes of our babies and musing about names, deciding on a nursery theme, setting up a registry, looking forward to the October baby shower my dear friends were planning, wondering what the holidays would be like - whether the babies would be here already, or I'd be on bedrest with Paul's family celebrating Christmas around our king-sized Tempurpedic, and how we'd possibly (and whether we should) get my hulking body and ginormous belly the couple of hours north to celebrate Christmas with my family. Paul, too, said he's had this itch to go on a nice weekend trip somewhere, feeling like somehow *that* would fix things.

What a bunch of shit. We both realize this can never be fixed. In another part of our lives, following through on this feeling is called "doing a geographic," meaning that you can run, but you can never hide from what ickiness lies inside yourself. For those of you familiar with this phrase and where we learned it, this will all make perfect sense. We could travel to Timbuktu and our sadness and gaping hole in our hearts would follow us. We could take a submarine to the depths and memories of what was supposed to have been would be right there, too.  This is our crappy reality. We don't have to like it, but we do have to accept it.

Our drive didn't end there. Nothing better to do and wanting to stuff our feelings - both of us - (and this also never works, but why stop now?), I continued to drive north, past our exits toward home, toward our former home city of Tacoma. It was a beautiful day, mid-80s and sunny, and Tacoma offers lots of places to walk along the water, people- and boat-watch, plus our favorite Indian restaurant. That's where we finally ended up, walking on the boardwalk at Point Defiance Park, watching the waves and the pleasure boats trying to fish, the crazy kids playing in the water (which hovers in the mid-50s temperature range year round), before crashing into a booth at Gateway to India for a nice dinner that I couldn't really taste because I couldn't really smell...but the textures and basic sweet-salty-sour-spicy bits were divine...and so was the hug from co-owner, CJ, who we hadn't seen in a long time.

Finally satisfied, we drove home. Our adventure took us approximately 300 miles and over 5 hours of driving, all told, in a crazy, crossed over, long, skinny figure eight of roadway.

Given our new awareness, I wonder what next Saturday will bring?


  1. Next Saturday, you'll be surrounded by the love of K, J and me... Paul is on his own. As odd as it sounds, maybe being separate with your grief will be good for a day. Love you.

  2. If only there were such a thing...


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