it is november 2014 and i am sitting in a plastic surgeon's office somewhere above a spa in southlake. i am 117 lbs and my crowning achievement is a clavicle that juts out imperiously when i round my shoulders. the previous night i discover that i can fit a fist beneath my ribcage. the topography of my body has become my new best friend, a priority that supercedes all others, and i enter the exam room with a road map of my imperfections to guide us. but dr. k has been in his field for far too long to be oblivious, so instead we spend my hour-long consult discussing happiness.
he tells me that age is the ascension of a tree, initially bristling with branches of endless possibilities that become slowly sparser until tapering to a final apex. he tells me that the older he becomes, the happier he is. it's hard being young, he muses, because you're constantly paralyzed by choices. so many what-ifs and preemptive regrets for decisions you're too scared to make, so much fear of committing to the wrong thing and losing out on all the other options. but life makes decisions for you, even if you don't, and eventually you find that there are fewer and fewer different paths available. so you're better off making the choices yourself and standing behind them. it sounds scary, but the older i get and the less decision-making there is, the happier i am.
and then i know that he knows why i am here- why i am really here. my unhappiness has been retooled and refined to a pointed obsession with my appearance, because there was nothing else to do with the expansive miasma of my existential angst. and if i had to connect the dots, i would start with the time i told my friend i just don't know what my future looks like anymore, and i would draw a straight line to the time i told my coworker every time i go to sleep i hope that i never wake up, and i would bring it to a conclusive point here, in this room, where a plastic surgeon confronts me with the superficial misdirection of my own misery-
- a girl, still tangled up in the bottom boughs, terrified by the volume of pages in this choose-your-own-adventure book.
it is july 2016 and i am sitting in this sun-drenched nursery, and i think about how my happiness is so full and complete it is bound to burst ventricles and flood cavities. how i had never really known before now what it means to be grateful and joyful and all of these adjectives that belong to cross-stitch samplers and coffee mugs. and it's not because i gained a man, or a baby, or any other trappings of a white picket fence dream. but because i have committed to choices, to paths, to tree branches that have irrevocably pruned the landscape of my life. i made the decisions. i shaped the bonsai.
"you're going to be a mom!" people squeal, and i pull a miserable face like i've condemned myself to a lifetime identity of bad haircuts and pouchy jeans.
but internally, there is a contentment so rich and warm it feels like a hidden power that has been lying dormant for 28 years. this little man is crowding up all the space in my body and soon to expand into the world beyond, a tiny newborn little thing that will be big enough to rearrange my universe. and he is not the end goal or even the penultimate achievement of my life, but a glorious bloom that redirects and reshapes it.
as an addendum to my ten thousand blogs, i keep a day one diary of my big dumb feelings through the years.
i have never felt more content or optimistic, i journaled, even before ian and i began dating. before there was commitment, there was quiet confidence. just being around him changed me.
he makes me feel like everything is going to be okay. no, scratch that. not feel, but know. i know that everything will be fine. that i will find my way to the things that are most important to me.
i've made my map. it's unfinished and there's wilderness ahead but it is no longer just a purposeless self-portrait.
delivery is scheduled for august 1st.