Fall finally came about the fourth of October; the hot weather slacked off with a merciful cold front. We had a bit of rain, and now we have sun again. The leaves are turning. The world is colorful, cool and bright for the moment, as it ought to be.
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers,” said Anne of Green Gables, and I agree.
Tomorrow, the eleventh, is my birthday. I’ll be 35: middle-aged unless you believe that middle age begins at 40. I don’t know why that number is daunting to me. It seems so old. And here I never got out of the college town I ran away to– each year we hope and each year we fail miserably. And I only ever managed to have one child. I know, 35 isn’t an expiration date, I could still manage, but– middle age.
I don’t think there’ll be much of a celebration. I don’t have local friends, and we’re broke. Perhaps the next time we’re not broke, I’ll take the bus into Robinson again, and pretend it’s for my birthday. I like the Robinson Mall as much as a vacation.
We haven’t had Rosie’s birthday party yet either– her birthday was last month. It was so hot during the week of her birthday that we decided to wait until the cold front came in and hold a combined birthday-Halloween party in the park. We’ll have spooky sprinkles on the cake and decorate the picnic shelterhouse with pumpkins.
She’s eight, and in the second grade according to the school district’s records. She can read, more or less, and she does her phonics exercises by herself, but she’s a whole year ahead in math. We’re going through the third grade textbook at a rapid pace; she can multiply by one, two and three, and we’ll start fours on Monday. Sometimes she walks up to me and asks for a “multiplication hug.” I wrap my arms around her; she names a multiplication problem. “Two times six, Mommy.” I squeeze her rhythmically and count by twos. “One-TWO. Three-FOUR. Five-SIX. Seven-EIGHT. Nine-TEN. Eleven-TWELVE.”
Somehow it reminds me of contractions, but of course my contractions weren’t rhythmic like that. The con artist midwife juiced me up on too many labor-inducing herbs for that to happen; then she further conned me by saying the agonizing, irregular contractions were a good sign of progress, and then she broke out the castor oil. I still remember the look of shock on the doctor’s face when I mentioned how much black kohosh I’d swallowed, after she dumped us in the emergency room. I don’t know how either Rose or I lived.I wonder if I will ever have contractions again. If I will ever feel a baby inside of me and have the squeezes come from the inside, announcing that life is on its way. One-TWO. Three-FOUR. Five-SIX. Seven-EIGHT.
Rosie’s head comes almost to my shoulder now. She’s in the 93rd percentile for her height, according to the doctor’s chart, and muscular from her martial arts lessons. I joke that I’m raising a Brienne of Tarth. She said she’d like to be president, and I said that according to the constitution she’ll have to wait until she’s thirty-five.
Tomorrow I turn thirty-five.
I don’t know what next year will look like for us. Maybe we’ll finally move. We might at least get a car, if we can figure out how to make payments. Maybe we’ll go to Pittsburgh and take that field trip to the zoo I’ve been promising for two years– Rosie loves animals more than anything in the world, and she wants to see a coral reef. But it’s an awfully complicated and expensive trip when we don’t have our own transportation.
I don’t know what things will look like when Rosie is my age. I don’t know if there will be coral reefs at all.
I don’t strictly know if the world will still be inhabitable in a few decades. I certainly hope it will. I don’t know if we’ll still live in a world where there are Octobers or if it will be endless, baking summer with no relief. I don’t know if the country I live in will survive politically long enough for Rosie to run for president, and I don’t know how much worse what replaces it will be. I don’t know where we’ll be living next year or in six months. I don’t even know how we’re keeping the power on in the next month– the bill we just got was the largest I’ve seen since they yanked us off the PIP assistance program and charged us two thousand dollars.
But tomorrow, I’ll be thirty-five.
This year, I live in a world where there are Octobers.
Today it’s sunny and cool, and the leaves are changing.
I’ll go out and play with my daughter.
(image via Pixabay)
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