Monday, September 06, 2004

Flashback

We are going to a wedding this weekend, a couple who I have known and liked tremendously for about five years. They've been together for a long time, and it's one of those events that seems more a celebration of the life they already have together rather than the start of something completely new.

I am really looking forward to it, since it is sure to be a groovy party. This couple, they aren't just cool and trendy- no, they are jaw-achingly hip. Anything they have planned is bound to be so stylish that it should be featured in one of those wedding magazines, where said cool couple shows just how it is done. I imagine the food will be good, the music excellent and the booze a-flowin'.

The thought of a boozy event brings me back, (as does everything) to my current obsession- namely, will I get to test this month? Will I even get as far as buying a test, which for me would be unusual behaviour ? Dammit, I thought to myself plodding home from work on Friday, I really want to have an excuse to at least buy a test. How is it I approach my 34th birthday, and I have never so much as bought a HPT, never mind actually getting pregnant.

And that it where it gets a little strange. Because over the weekend, I kept getting this not entirely pleasant mental image in my head every time I thought of buying a test. An image of a very small, dark and narrow room, with a single bed and one small window. A wooden desk rammed up under the weekend, stacks of books on the floor. A closet at the end of the room, by the doorway. Of me, lying on the bed with my hands folded over my stomach, eyes open, mouth pursed tight.

This image was accompanied by a low, not entirely soothing voice, whispering "This won't be the first time, you know. It's not the first time.".

Finally, I realised what it was. Here's the story.

My university/college education was, for a number of reasons which I won't go into, a little erratic. I went to one school for two years and then transfered somewhere else for the remainder, but then took half a year off in my senior year, and then came back the following year to finish up. Because of all the coming and going, I had lots of different dorm rooms.

Almost all the students at my college lived on campus. The range of student housing ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous- varying from a cinder block cell in the big square monolith, to a palatial room with en suite bathroom in one of the graceful houses set back along the tree lined streets next to the library. The system for allocating rooms was based on a sort of lottery, with points awarded to students who were most senior. So the more points you had, the higher up you were in the lottery pick, and more likely to get your first choice of room.

Of course in order to get the exact room you wanted, you had to know where it was- i.e. which building, and the room number. So it was fairly common, if you had a nice room in one of the nice houses, to have underclasspersons come knocking on your door for a quick peek, in hopes they could score it during next year's lottery. If you didn't know a particular room number, you could just opt for any room in a particular house and hope it was nice. The first half of my senior year, I got the house I wanted, but one of the worst rooms. It was extremely narrow, and the small window barely let in any light.

And that is where the aforementioned creepy image comes in. I now remember lying in my bed in that room. There was a pregnancy test in a box in the closet, and I had lain awake all night, waiting for enough hours to have passed from my last trip to the bathroom in accordance with the instructions on the packet, so that I could get up, pee, and find out if I was pregnant.

The funny thing is, I have absolutely no recollection of buying the test. I have this vague, fuzzy recollection of daisies on the box-but I don't remember the brand, or where I got it, or anything. And even worse, I barely remember who was the boyfriend at the time. I know, based on the room, that it must have been the first half of the senior year, therefore it was P. But I can't really remember worrying about getting pregnant with P., or the events leading up to that moment, lying in that narrow bed, in the narrow room, waiting.

I was halfway convinced I had made this up in my head, so tonight, I climbed up on the stepladder to reach the back of my closet. I pulled down the boxes with all my old journals. I kept a journal for years and years, and really only stopped last year when I felt like there wasn't anything to say. Hah- who knew the trials of infertility lay ahead?

Oddly enough, I didn't write very much at all that semester, but halfway through the month of September, a chunk of pages had been torn out. And I suddenly had this flashback, of writing over and over, where is my period? I'm late, I'm late, where o where is it, o dear God, I'm pregnant, what will I do, what will I do. Of not wanting anyone to know, of feeling ashamed.

At last, the final piece fell into place. In my mind's eye, I see myself get out of bed at last, and take the box to the bathroom. Sit down on the toilet with my knickers round my ankles, and...oh look. My period. I didn't need the test. Sweet sweet relief, I wasn't pregnant. I tore the pages out of my diary, and never wrote of it again. I never told anyone. I don't know whatever became of the HPT and the box. I think I threw it away eventually, when I finally moved out that room.

I don't know quite what the point of this story is. It is, in the big scheme of things, almost entirely unremarkable. College girl, age twenty, worried about late period, buys HPT, gets period before using test, throws HPT away. Not exactly headline news.

But I think there are two things about this memory that bother me. The first is, I thought I knew myself so well. I thought that I had such a clear picture of how I had become the woman I am today, of my history, of all the events leading up to this point, to how I feel now. Now I wonder if perhaps there are other things like this buried inside me somewhere, things I have hidden away. Things that I thought I was done with forever, the pages torn out and thrown away, like the memory of that scared girl alone in that awful dorm room. Things that will continue to rise to the surface, demanding to be acknowledged and given a voice.

Secondly, I feel very strongly about the idea that one sad and scary experience all those years ago is the closest I will come to an HPT. And for that reason alone, I am determined that this month, I will buy a test. If my period hasn't arrived by this weekend, as scheduled, I will use it. And if it's negative, I will have a short weep if I want to, wash my face, put my gladrags on, kiss the love of my life, and go drink some champagne to celebrate the marriage of my friends. If it's positive- well, we'll just have to reserve thoughts on that one for now.

That way, if nothing else, the first time I bought an HPT won't be the last time.

12 Comments:

At 10:16 PM, Blogger lobster girl said...

Sounds like an exorcism to me. Swat those damn ghosts. Buy your HPT. Pee on a stick. (But don't be like me and get pee all over the toilet seat while you're trying to aim for the stick.) And I sure as hell hope you see double.

 
At 12:27 AM, Blogger Toni said...

I'm part of POASA (Pee On A Stick Addicts). I do it even when I know I'm not pregnant - just to make myself feel better. Not everyone agrees...but we all have our vices...

 
At 12:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the way you write, I love the way you think.
Menita
(lifesjestbook)

 
At 2:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Toni and Mare and well of course everyone else...I am the st louis brach of that organization. Do we have a secret handshake? Probably not considering what everyone is doing behind closed doors....hands icky.

I think it is great what you are about to do...like rewriting history. Very symbolic. Would it not be great if it were positive.....

Duh alex!!! Disregard that last stupid sentence.

Anyway good luck
-alexhere from the kitchens of the infertile gourmet

 
At 3:47 AM, Blogger Julianna said...

That was beautifully written. It brought back memories. Memories of the positive HPT that felt like the biggest nightmare I could imagine when I was in college. I dated that boyfriend for 8 years. We never married. That positive HPT is what doctors today tell me was "good".

Positive HPT - It was a nightmare then and would be an amazing miracle today. Boy have times changed.

Good luck and have a great time at the wedding.

 
At 4:18 AM, Blogger sherry said...

I would dare say you're jaw-achingly hip, my dear.

Hope you had a great time!

 
At 8:07 AM, Blogger Pazel said...

I remember a pregnancy test that I sweated through in high school. I don't remember how I got it either but I was so glad it was negative. I remember swearing I would never have such a scare again. Hmmm, that was a pretty good swear.

I didn't remark on your post the other day about accents, but there are accents here that I can't understand either. When I lived in North Carolina, I couldn't understand the natives (versus the military base inhabitants). I remember writing down a drink order in phoenetics because I had no idea what it meant. Tay. I read it to another waitress who asked me if it was sweetened or unsweetened. Huh? Turns out that tay means tea. Who knew?

(I am absolutely green with jealousy of your living abroad. I've never even vacationed there.)

 
At 5:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mare,

Did you go to Smith? That description sounds painfully familiar.

Mary

 
At 7:48 PM, Blogger Barren Mare said...

Mary-

No, it wasn't Smith. But you're thinking along the right lines. ;)

 
At 12:41 AM, Blogger Jen P said...

there's a secret beauty in flashbacks. It gives you a primative glance into your subconscious and often a very eery commentary on the women you were before.

I hope you guys have a great weekend regardless of a pee stick. And keep the details! I need to know what an utterly hip wedding is all about! I'll need some ideas.

 
At 1:11 AM, Blogger Anotherjen said...

great story.
that's the reason why i kept a journal, and no matter how embarassing, I never tore out a page. I've been obsessed with memory ever since i can remember (ha ha) I think it's funny that when we're young- with, say, 16 years of memories in us that we figure that we'll remember everything forever.
Your post made me think back to my first pregnancy scare- but i'll write about that on my own blog.
I think it's pretty impressive that you haven't bought a test. I thought i had been exercising restraint by not using one of the 5 tests i have up in my bathroom drawer. i tip my hat to you! I remember one chart from back in the bullitin board days where this girl took not less than 17 tests in one cycle- from period to period.

 
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