Since I decided not to have children a month ago, I feel a delicate and beautiful feeling I don’t have words for. It feels like such a precious and elusive feeling that I just want to sit with and be with, but it slips away or I distract myself from it because I’m not used to it and I don’t know how to live from this place of such softness.
I write to try to understand it. If it were a painting, it would be a wash of blue watercolor underneath my skin, some deeper layer of me. This soothing beautiful blue washed over me from the inside out, brushed in a single stroke top down, with the rest of me drawn in thin lines of black ink.
If this feeling were a landscape, it would be an alpine lake or a fjord.
I keep thinking of a short story by Maridel Le Sueur which I love and have read many times. It is called “Annunciation,” and it’s from the perspective of a woman who is pregnant in very shitty circumstances. Her man is out most of the time looking for work but not finding it, and she has nothing to eat all day. But she is happy to be pregnant despite these circumstances, and the story is essentially her trying to express this dreamy, blissful feeling she feels that she can’t explain and no one else understands. She sits on the dilapidated balcony outside her room and looks at the pear tree all afternoon. Everyone pities her and her husband is mad at her for not getting an abortion, and she doesn’t know how to explain this sweetness and this beauty that she feels, that she feels like a pear or a pear tree or that she and her unborn child are like tender, wild, little animals. She writes on scraps of paper to find words for what she feels, to understand it and remember it when she no longer feels that way.
It is one of my favorite short stories and I re-read it at least once a year, but I have been thinking of it every day this month.
Every day, it comes to me at some point, because I feel a similar way.
And it doesn’t make any sense as my circumstances are opposite to the character’s. But the dreamy way she feels, this feeling of indescribable beauty and tenderness inside and inside herself, and just sinking into it, I feel too.
Especially I feel this beauty in my relationship with Cait, the facts of which are nothing new or super special: Us being together as two women with an 18-year age difference, being together for - it will be 10 years in august - and intentionally choosing not to have children. What is beautiful about that? I don’t know how to explain what is beautiful or why it feels so blissful but I feel it.
We have gotten older together and our bodies have changed. And that is part of the sweetness too, in a way I don’t even quite understand.
I see younger women sometimes, or photos of younger, beautiful women, and I see how I do not look like them. Often I appreciate their beauty and I find that I do not want anything about my own body to be different, do not want to be more like them and less like me. I feel this preciousness to have a body and that it could never be wrong or not enough, that however it looks I feel so grateful for it and somehow it seems so beautiful. The scars, the nerve damage, the dimples and bumps and things, somehow are so precious to me now it brings tears to my eyes, the preciousness of this body and its stories.
For a long time, I was so young. I was a pretty girl and my body was not so storied. Though I didn’t know it then, my body was more like a crisp sheet of watercolor paper.
At the time I felt the fleshy humanness of myself, how embodied life and real sex was nothing like a magazine. I felt fleshy and human and real. I remember putting my hands on my own legs in yoga class and feeling my sheer physicality loving it so much. But now I see how crisp and clean I was. And, really, I see how crisp and clean I still am compared to how I will be in another twenty or forty years, or longer. How life wears us down like river stones, my central lessons always coming down to presence and humbleness, and how life layers our bodies with stories upon stories even as it strips us down.
The time I feel it most, feel this tender indescribable feeling but mixed with a sharp piognancy, is when I put my arm around Cait in bed and I cup my hand under the side of her breast or her belly and I feel the comfortable fullness of her presence in my arms, and it feels so tender.
This feeling of, I wouldn’t change a goddamn thing.
And I fall asleep instantly. Usually we both do. (Staying asleep can be a different matter), but the comfort of having her next to me is so great. This requires us to have sex not in bed, or not lying down in a potential sleep position at least. It used to frustrate me that I fall asleep instantly and that her touch, in that moment, feels so damn comforting instead of stimulating, but now it feels like such a tender thing and I don’t want anything to be different.
The woman in the story I love has this tender indescribable feeling for her unborn child and herself in her pregnancy, and I think I have this similar feeling because that love and tenderness that would have been for a child is now for me and for Cait. It's the same, but expressed through different channels.
The only thing that isn’t blissful about this feeling is the feeling of not being met in it, and the loneliness of that. But even that has a sweetness to it in some moments.
Aspects of my life the past two years have felt isolating, but now it doesn’t feel that way exactly. Now it all feels like part of the sweet, tender feeling I can’t explain. And that somehow in loving the tiny details and the ordinariness of my life and my relationship with my love, it feels like life cracks open. The wall becomes a doorway, and even sweeping the floor and laying the laundry out to dry on the hot driveway, or making toast, or just sitting still, everything, all things, feel like the most sacred ceremony. But not in a stilted way, not even serious. I don’t know how to explain. But in all these ordinary things, it’s like nothing is missing and no residue is left behind.
It feels like such a precious and elusive feeling that I just want to sit with and be with, but it slips away or I distract myself from it because I’m not used to it and I don’t know how to live from this place of such softness. And maybe it will leave me for good, this feeling. Life will close again. But for now I write it and I practice being with it.