mother tongue

This would be the time. Find a partner or purchase sperm. Insert future teenager into womb. Water. Water. Water. Remain upside down while saturation continues. Go to breathing class. Eat for 1.5 . Watch texture of hair change and nipples get darker or wider or so sensitive, you walk around rented apartment shirtless. Notice aversions begin as waistline stretches and elastic becomes more necessary than any lover ever was.

Dream about forests swallowing body and baby / roots hovering and hollowing.

This would be the time. This was exactly the time for my mother and sister. My uterus glows neon reminders that if it were to ever be used as container, pod, housing unit for future human, the time is now.

I live inside a tiny room, where walls have been replaced by books and memories and paint and photographs and love notes. This room is wedged inside a dark apartment, which I dream is made of soil and dandelions rather than must and neglect. There would be no room for a baby here. And someone else shares this space and I need to be alone in these walls where yellow drips off the white paint and I swear they are messages they are stories they are past tenants telling me it is time to leave now.

So I go.

Mailboxes are meant to be leased in order to experience other shapes and locations. I move to another street, another corner of borough. I cut all my clothing into squares, sew their corners together and create a quilt. I walk around with this cloak like a cheesecloth, wrapping me into something safe and contained. I hold imaginary hand of imaginary baby. We frequent farmer’s markets and libraries. We learn languages together and this baby buries every one of my scars with each smile.

Maybe I can be whole when I create a whole other.

This would be the time. But my health insurance hasn’t begun yet and my bank account is a bit lower than I’d like it to be and I should probably relearn arithmetic and U.S. history.

Numbers can be intimidating. Traumatizing. A contant reminder of what I should be doing.

I’ll sit inside this. No sperm shopping for the moment. I need to get my things in order. I’m still not convinced I’m a permanent resident here.

At night, my dreams can continue.

what it feels like to think about wombs

How strong am I? Forget visible muscle definition or the amount of weight I can possibly bench press if I were to ever try.

What I mean is, can I juggle toddler, stroller, large bag full of necessities such as extra pair of pants, underwear, wipes, books, snacks, water…and can I hold onto all of this while reaching into back pocket to retrieve wallet where metro card lives in order to swipe us through. And can we make it through turnstile in time before it clicks closed.

I have met many women who feel the urge to produce. It’s more of a yearning. A need to push freshly squeezed baby out from between thighs after nine months of baking inside of body. A need to feel/see their genetics drip out from various movements or gestures. They want to experience the birthing process full-force. I have never been this person.

There have been times in my life I put myself at risk for procreating. But this is not about that. This is about feeling what it feels like to be a mother (or appear to be a parent/guardian) to the gentlest little boy I call nephew as we searched through an entire day together: one adventure at a time.

Here is something: as a childless human, I travel everyday and watch other people’s children on the subway on the streets in the grocery store in museums. I notice the variety of energy levels and communication skills. Some parents soothe the cries from high-pitched screams to laughter. Some look away and have lost the ability to remain calm. I try hard to notice, rather than judge. As a non-parent my voice/ my opinion is weightless.

So on this magical day of exploration with my nephew, I realized how hard a parent must work just to get on a subway or fill time while we wait to get into filled-to-capacity children’s museum.

I have always adored children; took care of other’s as a nanny for many years. I wonder –especially now as body tick tick ticks toward that time– why I still have no desire to birth.

As an aside, I fear my genetics.

Between you and me, I cannot afford my own care; how can I possibly afford another’s.

Does it depend on partners and love and if I met the right one would I want to make babies now now now?

Could it be that none of the partners I choose produce sperm and I’ve yet to make any of my own so so so….it’s going to be slightly more complicated than just waking up pregnant one day.

*

A woman…a mother…helps me up the two flights of stairs at Bergen Street with sleeping nephew in stroller and I do not ask, she offers. We wouldn’t want to wake him, she said.

I wonder all day if people think I am his mom and I like people thinking I am responsible enough or brilliant enough to produce this earth-warming boy.

I’ve thought about adoption. Maybe when I am ready if I’m ever ready. Because when my womb aches is when I’m with children who will make up songs with me for over an hour while we wait to get inside a museum. Or a boy I know who lives by the mountains in Boulder, Colorado who finds as much joy in farmer’s markets as I do. Or two great kids in Denver who devour books like cake.

My ears are clean, so when the ticking starts, I’ll hear it. And I’ve got health insurance in my future and soon I’ll have my own place and maybe maybe maybe sperm will just be a formality because maybe love (when it exists and when it’s prepared) can produce a life too.

how to be (or not to be) an adult

Every Tuesday and Thursday, I purchase a small hot chocolate in the Bronx for one dollar from a kind man who appears like a giant, elevated in his metal food truck. Our first conversation sounded like this:

“May I have a hot chocolate please?”
“You want sugar?”
“Oh, no thanks. Do you have soy milk?”
“No.”
“Skim milk?”
“No.”
“Just milk.”
“Ok…I’ll have that. Thanks.”

When he handed me the small paper cup, wrapped up in napkins, he said, “Soy milk? In the Bronx?” And he laughed.

Two months later, and we have developed sweet banter like this:

“No milk today, please.”
“Straight up?”
“Yup.”
“Off the rocks?”
“You got it.”

Yesterday, I ordered my one dollar hot chocolate on a particularly cold day. I once again asked for no milk. “I need it extra hot,” I said. “It’s so cold out today.”

“You teach kids around here?” he asked.
“Yes, but they’re adults.”
“You’re only an adult if you’re married,” he said. “And have kids.”
I laughed. “Oh, then I’m nowhere near being an adult. I may never be one.”

As I walked away, wrapping my fingers, reddened from the cold, around the paper cup, I thought about this definition.

Adult = Married + Children

As I get older, I notice my womb calling out to me.
You gonna fill this? it whispers.

I’ve never had any pressure from my parents to marry, maybe because I’m a homo.
Maybe because I’ve never really gone the traditional route.
I don’t think anyone expects me to have children.

So, there’s ticking in my womb and suddenly New York says I can legally get married. I will probably forego the marriage part, but maybe one day I’ll adopt a baby or some sperm.

Can I still be considered an adult if I only partake in one of the requirements? And if I do neither, what am I?

As a kid, I thought adults were people who paid bills.
I do this.

The thing is, there is no one definition.
Just like: there is no one way to be a woman or a man or a human.

I’ll keep drinking my hot chocolates, falling in love, playing with other people’s children and paying my bills. I’m not sure these encapsulate adulthood, but I know they are signs of just living.