Wonder: Prelude

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Thank heavens. The test came out negative. I am not ready to become a mom. At least not yet. At least, not entirely. I still remember that feeling of bliss that raced through me when I thought I might be pregnant. But maybe that was the afterglow. Paolo is pretty incredible.

What an eventful day! Our first day in Windenburg. It didn’t take long for me and my sister Beryl to decide what we wanted to do with our inheritance. It wasn’t much, but if we pooled together what we got, we’d have just enough to buy this little cottage we found in downtown Windenburg.

Beryl had been wanting to move there forever, for her art. And me, I just wanted to start something new. It had taken forever for our parents’ estate to be settled. All those long battles. All that paperwork, which was even worse! And all those meetings with attorneys. I’d had it.

Since I was in between relationships–and in between jobs–it was the perfect time for me to start fresh, too.

Beryl was outside painting that first morning, when I returned from my first walk in the neighborhood. She’d dragged up an old easel that she found in the basement and had already started on a fresh canvas.

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I feel really happy that we chose to live downtown. It’s where all the hip people live. They’re younger than us, but our lifestyles fit right in. Beryl and I, we sort of made a pact when we were kids that we’d never officially grow up. It works for us.

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Eva, one of our neighbors, was telling us about her club.

“We dance! We sing. We share everything,” she said. “It’s for free spirits! Like you sisters! You should join, we would love to have you!”

“I am not so much a joiner,” said Berry. “I just can’t really find time to get together, know what I mean? Besides, I’d probably bore you talking about indigo and vermilion pigments.”

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But I was eager to join. I like Eva, Jade, and Marcus. And from what they said, Paolo sounded cool, too.

He is. Very. I found out that night when the club met up at a dance hall a few blocks away.

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Paolo came on strong from the start. There’s just something about him that gets to me.

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I have never, not even in college, moved so fast with anybody. But this is Windenburg, and I’m in the spot after my old life has ended and before my new one has begun, and I really only wanted to have fun.

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“Look and see if anybody’s out there,” I said to Paolo before we headed out of the closet. I didn’t want to start here with a reputation.

“It’s clear,” he said. “There is no one to witness our naughty escapades, my little foreign conquest.”

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I could barely stand. Seriously. Paolo. Granted, I’ve never done it in a closet before, but still. Never have I experienced anything even close. Paolo.

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Then I remembered: dang. I’d forgotten all about using protection. How could I be so stupid? STDs? Pregnancy? What was I thinking? I wasn’t thinking. I am way too old to be so stupid. My only excuse was that it had been a while since I hadn’t been in a regular relationship. But that’s a lame excuse. I have no excuse. At my age–what was I thinking?

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As I ran home, though, I kept wondering: what if I had gotten pregnant? Would that be so terrible? I’ve always liked kids. It’s getting to the point in my life where I need to do this soon, if I’m going to do it all. What else am I doing with my life? Why not raise a little kid? And it’s not like I’d have to get together with Paolo. I’ve got Berry. My sister and I could do an awesome job raising a child. And that’s when the feeling of bliss rose up.

Now that I think about it, it was afterglow. That’s all. I should’ve recognized it. It’s just that it’s been a while.

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Beryl was washing dishes when I got home. She didn’t even pause to say hi or ask about the evening. She’s got this thing she does where everything is “mindfulness practice.” I’ve grown used to it. That’s my sister.

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I had my own mindfulness practice as I walked into the bathroom to use the pregnancy test. Each step, I felt the weight of consequences descend. Would I be allowed to get by with this? Or, what if I were pregnant, after all? Would it really bring this secret happiness that I feel pulling at me?

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The test was negative. I was relived. Overjoyed! And yet, there in the shadow of my heart, I felt the smallest hint of disappointment. Beryl really would make an incredible aunt.

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