Bill T. Jones is developing a work-in-progress titled, Analogy, based on the character Ambros Adelwarth from W.G. Sebald’s The Emigrants and an oral history Mr. Jones conducted with Dora Amelan, 94 year-old French survivor of WWII. I know this because I work at Bard College where Bill T. Jones and his company are creating this piece and also because my boss, a dedicated arts supporter, told us to go watch an open rehearsal. After the staff meeting, many of us went to our calendars to see where we could squeeze in the extra time away from work. I was thrilled to oblige since the performing arts just happens to be what I live for and asking me to follow through on this kind of task is like asking me to find time for ice cream. Especially these days.
"She's eating for two." Greg points at me telling the next-shift, diner waitress as she balances a Wonder Bread BLT in one hand and a plate of sausage-and-buttermilk-gravy covered biscuits with a side of eggs and toast in the other. She sets our meals down in front of us, amazed that he wasn't the one who ordered the heart attack.
I'm not just pregnant. I've been kidnapped by aliens and replaced by a pregnant lady with boobs and nice skin. My life is completely unrecognizable at this point and I find I am capable of spending countless minutes in front of the mirror trying to figure out who that woman is with the wonder in her eyes. This is my first pregnancy. My first baby. My first time I ever truly realized what can happen when two people make love.
I'm 41 and I've been told since my early twenties that I will never get pregnant without major medical assistance. Too many conditions and broken parts. I haven't used birth control in a decade. I think. Maybe more. Never a scare. Never a thought. A worry. Now, lo and behold, I'm knocked up out of nowhere.
"But wait! We only have one car! We don't live in the suburbs! We never go to bed early and we can never keep a bottle of wine in the cabinet for more than 24 hours! We can't be parents yet—we're not even grown ups!"
"You're 41?" I get this a lot. And it isn't because I look young. I look 41, I'm just immature.
I write plays when I'm not at Bard. Greg is working on building a new business. Family planning was something we scheduled to talk about with doctors when we got around to it, next year. A few years after that we'd order up a scientific miracle and work on being a really great aunt and uncle if it didn't work out. Being a parent is something we both want but in all frankness—I think we both thought things wouldn't work out so we didn't ever get our hopes up. To me, it always seemed something unattainable. Too good to be true. A dream life that doesn't come in my size. And yet, here we are.
About now, our little guy has been developing inside of me for approximately 20 weeks. 13 weeks ago, we discovered that I did NOT have the flu, but in fact we were going to have to grow up. That's 91 days of mind blowing, dumbfounded, amazement and pure shock. I've never been so happy. Ever. And I've never grown so far, so fast in such a short amount of time.
They say that this is the time in your pregnancy when you're to feel movement from the little soul inside of you. And I have! Little nudges and tickles. I find it unbelievably bizarre, numbing, and now I obsessively think about this PERSON growing INSIDE of my body. I have all of the normal fears about his health and my parenting skills but those seem to fade as the days go by and I discover things like watching a deer cross our backyard on a moonlit night while I think, "Relax. This child inside of me is not mine. He belongs to the universe. All I have to do is share what I've learned so far and keep learning right along with him. I can continue to have just as much awe about this world as he will."
I'm watching Bill T. Jones grab his forehead. There are about 30+ people in the room, this modern cathedral—technicians, managers, designers, dancers, two or three onlookers. Everyone staring in silence and waiting for his next direction. We're in church and he is the messenger of God. Mr. Jones sighs and points his long, slender finger at the sole musician behind the piano with an accordion around his neck and a microphone strapped to his cheek. "Just... you'll have to... whatever it is you have to do... figure it out... Everyone! Go back to 'The River'... start at the top of 'The River'!" Music plays. Dancers dance. Technicians adjust. Life goes on.
I suddenly find myself getting choked up. Hormones? A life-long battle with sentimentality? I have a vision of standing on the chair where I sit and exclaiming to the entire theatre: "I HAVE A CHILD INSIDE OF ME! A CHILD I TELL YOU! A CHILD! RIGHT HERE!" And everyone gathers around, hoists me up and over to the stage to adore my belly.
"I'll figure it out... whatever it is I have to do..."
I decide to reach into my purse for a mint instead.