A few days ago, the divine getupgrrl mentioned the feeling of being the last prisoner in the cell while others are pardoned.
This got me thinking about a particular image which I have been carrying around with me since my adventures in infertility began. It is not of a cell-block but of a large desert island.
The island is populated with some of the coolest, sassiest, smartest women in the world. There is a well established village, with an organised social structure- university, church, doctor's surgery, post office. There are also a number of outposts, where smaller groups live in tents or grass huts. Some women choose to live closer to the island interior on their own, emerging once in awhile when a passing ship is spotted.
There is a lookout tower, and this is usually manned by someone at all times. What are we looking for? The ferry, of course. This calls at the island dock on a regular basis. Quite often all the women on the island gather on the beach to watch the arrivals and departures.
Women whose time on the island is up, stroll up the ramp, clutching their boarding passes happily. Sometimes they blow kisses, and promise to write. A few do keep that promise, and their postcards and letters mounted on the bulletin board in the village hall.
The arrivals are usually a mixed bunch. Some step off the ferry with a bewildered look in their eye- like, "how the hell did I end up here? We were on our way to the Bahamas, and the next thing I knew I was on some damn island with a bunch of crazy girls." They spend a lot of time looking for the tourist information centre and asking when the next ferry is due.
Others are resigned to the fact of the detour, but confident their stay will be short. They prance down the gangplank, usually wearing a spangly bikini and clutching a dinky overnight bag. A few of the women observing on the beach look down at their own bikinis, once spangled, now frayed and faded. And the overnight bag has been long since washed away. They look at each other, raise eyebrows.
There are always a few who had a pretty good idea that a stopover on I.I. was inevitable. These women are toting gigantic backpacks, full of supplies. Mosquito repellant. Hammock. Battery powered fan. Pith helmet. Machete. Fishing rod. Guide book on how to build raft. We are glad to see these women, because they tend to be good in a crisis, and are always up for watchtower duty.
The saddest arrivals are those women to whom we once waved goodbye. We greet them with a hug, we wrap our arms around them to give comfort, and we escort them gently back to the guest quarters, where we try to ensure the beds are more comfortable and the air conditioning is on.
The ferry leaves at sunset. We watch as it steams away. And then we quietly disperse, making our way back up the length of the beach, back to the huts, the lagoon or the campfire.
All things considered, Infertility Island is not the worst place I have ever been. The weather can be variable, and the menu does tend to feature an awful lot of cake at times. But the company is undeniably excellent.
And if some days I walk the beach only to find my message in a bottle has washed back up on shore, well, I can but wait. Wait and watch for the ferry, which may one day take me home.