Monday, September 13, 2004

For better and for worse

I'm back from my weekend at the wedding. In this entry, as promised, the answer to several questions, (including, am I pregnant yet?) will be revealed.

Saturday morning rolls around. I wake from a disturbing dream of giving myself injections. This does not bode well, I think. But it seems my period has not arrived. So, sticking with the earlier plan, I convince E. to drive over to Boots the chemist with me to buy a pregnancy test.

"Are you sure that's a good idea?" he asks.

"Sure, why not?"

"Because," he says gently, "I am afraid it will ruin your day if you are not pregnant."

"It'll ruin my whole month if it turns out that I am not pregnant. But it'll be even worse if that is the case, and I have deliberately avoided the champagne!"

He sees my point. He needs shaving foam anyway, so off we go. We get the stuff, and stand in line behind a couple with a two day old infant as they argue with the check-out girl about the price of whatever New Infant care item they were wanting to buy. The HPT packages (buy two get one free) suddenly feel slippery in my sweaty palm.

Back at the flat, I put my make-up on, change into my wedding attire. I struggle with my strapless bra and my strappy sandals. E. and I discuss his under-kilt strategy.

"I wasn't going to wear anything," he says, "I usually don't." (Answer one, part one- usually, nothing).

"It's gonna be gale forces winds today, sweetie," I reply. "Maybe you better put something on. Just in case of unexpected...gusts. "

"Good point," he agrees, and slips on a pair of blue brushed cotton Calvin Klein boxers. (Answer one, part two- depends on the weather.)

It is nearly time to leave. I go into the bathroom on my own. I take the test. My hands are shaking. I sit on the edge of the bath for the alloted minutes, watching the control line darken on its lonely ownsome. Coming out of the bathroom, I put the test down on the kitchen counter, under the light.

"Do you see a second line?" I ask.

E. looks at it. "No. Should there be one?"

(Answer two- no, I am not pregnant.)

We throw the test in the trash, and I put my coat on. We get in the car. We drive to the wedding, without saying much.

It is a lovely day, despite the wind. The bride is beautiful, radiant- even more so than brides usually are. At the reception, the tables are set with candles and very tall vases of white lilies. We sit with two single women and a gay couple (whom I shall call Alex and Joe). It's a nice mix, especially since they are cool and groovy people. We eat and we drink. We toast the happy couple again and again. The bride's father mentions the families with new babies, who have made a special effort to get to the wedding. My champagne glass is soon empty.

It turns out that one of the women at the table has recently finished an eight month relationship with a guy E. knows rather well, a funny coincedence, so they gossip about it. Further proof of what a small country this is. The couples with the small babies (three of them) are sitting elsewhere. The babies sleep, even when passed around to admiring friends.

The band plays jazz. The bride and groom twirl around the floor, kissing. One of the couples with a newborn stand nearby, cuddling their little person, bouncing her in their arms.

"Stop staring," E. whispers. My hand convulses around the stem of my wine glass.

"I was wondering what the baby's head smells like," I whisper back. E. takes my hand off the glass, holds it for a minute.

Alex comes around the table and sits next to me. He is pale, bald and smiling.

"I haven't been able to talk to you yet," he says, pointing to the tall vase, "you've been obscured by foliage."

Alex, it turns out, has been very ill. The lump in his groin, the one his doctors told him "not to worry about" for five years, was in fact very worriesome indeed. The cancer had spread throughout his body. He had a bone marrow transplant last year. Joe comes over to join us. I get the impression they have told the story many times before.

"It must have been very hard for you, " I say to him, "hard for you both."

"The thing is," Joe tells me, "is when it is happening, you don't know at first how bad it will be. And then it's happening, and you take it one day at a time. One treatment at a time. Part of you is looking on, wondering how you got to the point of this procedure, or that procedure. And you keep hoping."

I know, I think to myself, inside my head. I know. Out loud I say, "I am so sorry you had to go through that." They nod.

A heavily pregnant woman passes by our table, smoking. She stubs out the cigarette in the ashtray near E. His hand convulses on the stem of his wine glass.

I take E. to the dance floor, and we spin around. We dance the night away.

At 1am, the disco finishes. I kiss the bride goodbye, and tell them to have a wonderful honeymoon. E. and I leave the venue, heading out into drizzling rain and lashing wind. The queue at the taxi stand is a mile long. We decide to walk. I wrap my thin coat around me. The water gets on my suede sandals, my painted toes. It is cold.

"Tell me something nice," I beg E. as we struggle down the street. E. thinks a minute.

"I never knew before tonight that you are such a good dancer. You looked great, dancing. You looked so pretty tonight."

I thank him. "Tell me something too," he says, holding onto my arm.

So I tell him- how, when we came back to the table between songs, flushed and smiling, Alex had said to me how good we look together. How happy we look, how we glow.

There is rain on my face, and in our eyes. When I look up, I see we are almost home. I know again a simple truth- that we are really happy. What is not so simple is that at the same time, we are also a little bewildered. We are becoming more than a little sad.

And for better, for worse, we are in this together.


At 8:55 AM, Blogger Sanorah said...

What a beautiful moving post.


At 3:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You write so beautifully. I'm so sorry about the negative.


At 3:44 PM, Blogger Soper said...

I'm sorry I said you were boring.
Now you have to take back the cheeky monkey comment.
I probably would have chased the pregnant woman down and stubbed the cigarette out in her eye...

At 4:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


What a beautiful, lovely post. I'm sorry it was negative. I'm hoping for you to see the two lines soon, very soon.


At 4:28 PM, Blogger JJ said...

Sending you much creepy internet love across the seas to you.

We're here with you too, better or worse.

At 6:01 PM, Blogger Julianna said...

Such a beautifully written story! I'm glad that you enjoyed the wedding even though you tested while getting dressed. You are brave!

Take care.

At 6:50 PM, Blogger lobster girl said...

Lovely post. You are an eloquent horse, you know that?

Strange, isn't it, how we can be happy in our relationshps and so sad at the same time? Yup. I know that feeling. It colors every day.

At 7:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a lovely post, thank you for sharing it. I'm very sorry about the negative.

One egg, two egg

At 7:55 PM, Blogger amanda said...

You moved me to tears with that one. Sorry to hear there was only one line on that damn HPT.

At 9:02 PM, Blogger E. said...

Shit. I had to skip down to the part where you tested right away -- I hate that it was negative, and I'm very sorry. Thank you, as always, for a beautiful, poetic post.

At 9:31 PM, Blogger Pazel said...

I'd love to go dancing, especially at a Scottish wedding with a good looking man in a kilt. Sounds like heaven. Sadly, it would have to be a different man than my husband since he is not a great dancer and I can't imagine him donning a kilt no matter how much I tell him that our last name is a clan in Scotland.

I hope the smoking pregnant woman has a long, extremely painful labor. Is that mean?

Sorry for the single line. They're always so lonesome.

At 9:56 PM, Blogger Jen P said...

Beatiful, wonderful post Mare. Brilliant. I'm sorry about the negative. Soon, soon your barn will be brimming with new and small wee ponies.

Lots of love to you.

At 9:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful writer you are! It is all bewildering and sad, but I'm glad you have a wonderful partner to accompany you on the road.


At 10:32 PM, Blogger chris said...

Sorry about the negative. Great post, though.

At 10:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a lovely post. I'm sorry about the HPT and the shoes, and I wish you brighter days ahead.

~Brooklyn Girl

At 11:26 PM, Blogger Toni said...

I love that story!! How wonderful you are to tell me what he wore...I actually checked back numerous times over the weekend hoping I would find out (and about the HPT - glad you did it - sorry it wasn't what you wanted).

At 1:09 AM, Blogger Miss W said...

That was truly beautiful. I'm sorry that things weren't as they should be. Clearly, if there were any fairness, couples as lovely as the two of you would not be suffering through this. Life isn't fair. For any of us. But the way the two of you are handling this together is a true testament to your love.

At 1:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful, Mare. Thank you for sharing that night with us...

Anna H.

At 1:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Life. Weddings which signify new beginnings, babies, women who take their pregnancies for granted, other people's children, illness, champagne, dancing, rain, wind, long lines...

It's all around us. We are a part of it. Yet so very few people understand the secrets we have locked away in our hearts and souls and how much our experiences have altered our lives. Though I wish you didn't have to go down this particular road, I am so happy you have a wonderful man who holds your hand along the way.

Your post was so wonderful. I felt as if I were with you during each shifting scene.

Fractured Fairytale

At 2:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's amazing how you can describe such bittersweet moments.

the middle way

At 4:22 AM, Blogger sherry said...

Mare, what a fabulously beautiful post. I'm so sorry the test only showed one line. I felt as though I was there, with you. I would've hugged you, if that were true.

PS- When I visited the UK, one of my very favorite finds was Boots. Also, thank you for revealing FINALLY what a Scotsman wears beneath his kilt.

At 4:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Mare I am crying for the bittersweet image of you walking in the rain with your loved one knowing that your child is not coming yet....cue some sweet melodramatic music and I will start balling.....

I was listening to Nora Jones as I read it..very appropriate.

Life has so many curveballs....your friends..the sick one, the married one, and your and your honey. Sending you some love.

-alex here from the kitchens of the infertile gourmet

At 6:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a lovely post. Glad you've got each other. Carry on fighting girl, dont give up.


At 3:52 PM, Blogger Dee said...

What can I say that the others have not? By golly, that was some gorgeous writing, and a gorgeous thread from the fabric of your and E's life together.

It sucks that the second line wasn't there and I'm sending much hope and love your way that it will make a wonderfully special appearance in the near future.

But it was wonderful that you and E found (and continue every day to find) comfort in one another during the touching. Alex and Joe also sound like a pleasure to have made the acquaintance of and even though their situation/struggle is somewhat different from that with infertility, they are wise in the ways of treatment and hope, aren't they?

You are so not boring, my dear. Simply eloquent, warm, and real.

At 9:03 PM, Blogger Lia said...

You've captured the all of the joy and sadness of life in this post. My husband and I are also really happy, and are also becoming a little sad. The one seems to intensify the other, and vice versa. May all your hopes be realized.

At 10:35 PM, Blogger la gringa said...

Thanks for such a lovely post. I'm sorry that you aren't pregnant, but glad that you and your husband sound so good to each other, happy together even during this sad time.

At 1:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, I am so incredibly sorry about the negative. I truly hoped for you...with you...that this was it. Second, I'm absolutely melting over here. What a poignant, powerful post on so many levels. That moment when E. takes your hand off the glass? I could feel it. You are a beautiful writer. Again, though. I am sorry.

(Also, thanks for feuling my active and dirty imagination. Hmm. I wonder if G. would try on my old field hockey uniform. I could probably scrounge up some old bagpipes too...)

At 1:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last comment from me Sorry about that.

At 1:37 AM, Blogger NSR said...

I am so sorry about the negative. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post.


At 2:16 AM, Blogger Heather said...

I am so, so sorry about the negative, but what a beautiful, moving post. Thanks so much for sharing. It was brilliant.
One Pink LIne

At 5:09 AM, Blogger Janet said...

So glad you are back. But not glad that you got a negative. Wish it were a different outcome, but what a beautiful post, and what a wonderful image of you and your partner! So glad you have him and I hope that the for Better comes along immediately.


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