Wonder 29



I’ve been feeling drowsy and dreamy, writing love poetry. What got into me? Somehow, I’ve been nostalgic lately. I blame this book of poetry I’m writing. Together Apart–with a title like that, how could I keep from getting a little sentimental?

So when Paolo stopped by that evening, my heart was already wide open.


Combine my temporary poet’s heart with the man that Paolo is to me–that’s a sure recipe for melted ice cream. Sweet, sticky, and all over you.


Charlie came in while Paolo and I were cuddling on the couch. Actually, we were making out, but we toned it down with Charlie’s entrance.

Charlie didn’t seem embarrassed. I guess he’s used to it by now. Pao doesn’t come over all that often, but when he does, he and I usually end up together someplace, and Charlie and Berry walk around us, pretending we’re invisible.


“What is he making, nosso filho?” Paolo asked when Charlie remained in the kitchen.

I switched on a movie.

“I’m making spaghetti, Pai,” Charlie said. “Do you want some?”

Paolo and I watched the film while Charlie fixed supper.


I love these rare moments when we’re like every other family. Berry joined us for supper, and she and Paolo bantered, the way they do, with him trying to hook her up with every friend and cousin of his, and her dodging each attempt with more and more ridiculous come-backs. By the time I cleared the dishes, Berry was explaining that the true artist finds love within the soul–the soul of indigo and magenta, and so it is in the pigment where the true marriage takes place.

Once the conversation reaches that level, Paolo checks out mentally, and Berry wins every time.

After supper, Charlie went out to paint. I watched him from the porch. Sometimes this boy looks so sublime. I can always see his dad in him, and my dad, too, for that matter. And then there is the quality that is pure Charlie–this essence that no one else but our boy can express.


“What are you painting, Charlie?” I asked him.

“The subject matter is fish,” he said, “but it’s really one of those paintings about oneness and two-ness.”


His dad came out when Charlie was putting away his paints.

“You are looking like the athelete,” said Paolo. “You are working out, yes? It’s not all the painting and the cooking, right, meu filho?”


Paolo got on the treadmill. “Observe,” he said to Charlie, and he set the machine to a high setting.

“What are you doing?” I asked him.

“I am beating our son’s record,” Paolo answered. “The machine, she remembers the best score. Watch. Mine will be the best.”


Right then, I remembered why I was happy with our arrangement the way it was.

Charlie was inside watching a cooking show on TV. I thought for a moment what it might have been like if his dad had lived there. What would our boy be like living with that type of competition all the time?

I don’t think Berry would have stayed, if Paolo and I had gotten married. She can handle Paolo’s teasing for an evening, but if it were a constant, she’d be out of here.

And Charlie without Berry’s influence? I can’t imagine! She’s the one who’s nurtured his artist’s soul.

I felt a quick spurt of giddy happiness: look how it had all worked out! Just like that, my earlier nostalgia vanished. Thank you, reality, for helping me to check my romance on the shelf labeled “Great Myths of the World.”


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Wonder 2


Now I know why they call it morning sickness. I’m famished all the time, but it takes all my will power to eat. Nothing smells good.


Beryl and I have been talking names.

“What about Christopher? With a ‘ph’, of course,” she suggested.

“Ugh. Don’t say ‘ph.’ It reminds me of litmus paper.”


“Maybe a scientist’s name? Linnaeus!”

“No! We’re not naming the baby Linnaeus!” I snapped. I actually like the name. It’s just I get so irrationally irritated by everything little thing. Usually that comes right on the heels of the nausea.


“I’m sorry,” I said. “How about Copernicus for a boy? And Marie for Marie Curie for a girl? No, wait. Marie Curie died.”

“So did Copernicus,” said Beryl.


Every name seems futile. I know it’s just the hormones, because in five minutes, every name will seem great.


“I’d really like to name her Hildegard,” I said.

“After Hildegard of Bingen?” asked Beryl.


“Yes. But the name ‘Hildegard’ is kind of sharp-sounding. What about Bingen?”

“Or Bing! I like that! We could call her Bee for short!”

“Bee Cups!” I laughed.


Beryl chuckled. “It fits! B-cups is what we wear!”

“I think I’m C-cups now!” It’s true. I’m bursting out all over.


“Bee Cups! Copernicus Cups! Marie-Curie Cups! Linnaeus Cups!” Beryl rattled off the names into absurdity, and I concentrated on keeping my breakfast in my stomach.


We found out that morning that we got accepted into the program. I had my first prenatal check-up. Everything is looking fine. The nurse-practitioner said that sometimes older mothers feel the hormonal shifts more strongly, and that the morning sickness was nothing to worry about. Though it was uncomfortable, it didn’t do any harm to the baby or me, as long as I was able to get adequate nutrition.

“Eat as often as you can,” she advised. “Try not to get hungry. Hunger is one of the triggers.”

We stopped by an art gallery after we visited the clinic. Beryl said there was a show she wanted to catch, and they also had free workshops that she wanted to participate in.

It feels good to be out.


I met this really interesting artist, Ulrike, while looking at a painting. She lives near the gallery.


We somehow started talking about the pregnancy, and one thing leading to another, she found out that Paolo was the dad.

“What? Mon dieu! You poor dear!” But when I explained that I was happy to have him as the dad, and that I didn’t want to settle down with him, she relaxed.


“The free spirit!” she said. “Then all is well. Yes, I know Paolo well. The bread-winner, the Leave-it-to-Beaver. That is not the Paolo. But the father of the child of the free spirit? Yes! The Paolo can still play his little fun and games. All is well for the Paolo. And for you?”

She seemed to understand how I felt as we talked. “I feel the draw of creation, too,” she said.

She closed her eyes. “It is a little boy,” she said. “I am sure of it!”


“This will be a fine child!” she said.

I had to leave right then. It is also afternoon sickness, apparently.


I was glad I’d packed a toothbrush.


Beryl was worried.

“You need to keep some food down,” she said.

I tried to reassure her, but she insisted we head home as soon as she finished that painting.


While she cooked grilled cheese, which is the only thing that sounds good to me, I watered our little garden.

Something about being pregnant–it hooks me up with all this archetypal energy! I feel it’s something bigger than me moving through. I love that we’re doing this just me and Beryl. I think Ulrike got what I was after–it’s not just the free spirit aspect. It’s the embracing the whole earth goddess creative energy greater-than-me, more-powerful-than-any-individual, incredible creative force.

Now wonder it’s so powerful that I can’t even keep down half a sandwich.


But I try.


Beryl must have cooked magic into that sandwich for it felt great and settled my stomach.


“Berry!” I told her. “This is the best food I’ve ever had!”

“Let’s name the baby Gruyère!” she said. “Edam? Muenster!”

“Cheddar! Cheddar Cups!”

“Or we could settle for Jack.”


I’ve got a feeling I’ll know the baby’s name when I look in his eyes.


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