The nickel moon is half in half out this morning. Half in this world, half in the other. An appropriate moon for the day I turn 48. The bitter cold smacks me in the face as I let the dog out. He roams and barks at the wind. I too am barking at its grip on this part of the earth. But I am a January girl. Rumor has it, and the almanac confirms, that on my birthday, a record amount of snow fell for that season. It is still listed in the top 50 since 1950. I cannot claim anything having to do with that statistic, other than it was the day I arrived.
I take note this morning, in the shower, of my body. Wash my hair, now longer, with care, and not the harsh scrub my mother used, over the stationary tub, when I was little, Johnson’s No More Tears streaming down my face. Oh, I hated water, hated baths, hated having my hair washed. Did I mention I am a January girl, an Aquarius no less?
I brush, tweeze and floss the crevices of my body. I am learning to move slow. No. Not slow down. But move slow. To my own rhythms. It is a lesson long in coming, in my history as a runner, running into my mother’s arms, she asking why I am running so fast. What was I running away from? What was I running towards? Running, as I fell over hurdles, at a track meet in seventh grade, the asphalt I can still detect, as the suds roll over my bumps this morning, embedded in my knee as a footnote to my glory days, and a reminder there will always be something in my path that I will trip on. But I will rise and finish.
As I reach down into my cabinets below, I am stopped mid-air. It was only yesterday morning that I awoke inbetween, a place where women don’t often find themselves, but perhaps once or twice in their life. Puzzlement over the stage of life their body is in. No longer twenty, yes. Not yet 50, yes. But the middle. Where, when a period over two weeks late is evaluated, perseverated upon, sweat over, and the sweat is evaluated, perseverated upon, and sweat over. Am I? Or am I not? Am I pregnant, or is this really mid-life.
And in those twenty-four hours, I am like a new student on the target range, aiming all over the place. I can shoot effectively. I just don’t know where I want my arrows to land. Blame on the doctors who performed my husband’s vasectomy many years ago. Frustration at my own body’s silence. Anger at my first husband, Devin, for leaving me with only biological child. Sadness that Mark and I did not create together. We opted for a dog, and the wisdom that came from - when in doubt, go with the dog. Uncertainty, that on the eve of Roe v. Wade, what would be my stance should I be pregnant. More confusion, at my age, delivering a child, no matter its health. Blessedness of the three young women and one young man who make up the posse I call “my kids.” Relief that I would no longer have “count days” or endure the extra three cycles my body “gifts” me each year. Gratitude I would not endure more post-period anemic, depressive episodes. Wondering what room, “in the new house” would be sufficient for a nursery, deciding it would be my office, more fury that would signal the end of my writing career for a spell.
In the inbetween, the time in which I open my eyes to the reality of the day and the time in which I put feet to the floor, grounded in what lies ahead, these thoughts bounce around like ping pongs in the lottery machine, wondering which number will be pulled. Will I win the lottery? Define “win.” Define “lottery.”
But as I approached the bathroom, a warmth trickles through the insides of my belly, a belly taut only days earlier, when I practiced yoga, skied down a few black diamonds, ran on the treadmill, a belly which now shook with each step I took. Minutes later, confirmation that I had not yet achieved middle age, nor would I conceive. It would have been miraculous, either way. For some odd reason, I entertain mixed emotions over both outcomes.
I stand inbetween, at the crossroads of motherhood and empty nest. Between pages written in the past, and the white, empty pages of my horizon. Half-cocked writer, full-blown author. Love for family. Want for “self.”
I look back into the mirror, the pregnancy test now out of mind. I caress my arms and legs with lotion to soothe my current aches. I run over scars still healing from surgery of the shoulder. Hips that don’t lie from only one birth, as another scar across the pubic bone reveals the other half of that birth. A tailbone once cracked from a bumpy bike ride on campus. The knee, again. The one age spot on my face I am trying to rectify. The hands that will never be my mother’s. The feet, oh my sturdy feet, they are my father’s.
I turn to attend to my hair. The dog scampers in. He thinks it beauty parlor day, but I tell him I will go first this time. The hair that has grown longer, has also revealed the cowlicks of my younger days. The pain of trying to achieve the Dorothy Hamill look. To be more like those whose hair I coveted – the Robin Eichenlaubs, Julie Pines, or Julie Drugas of this world. I cannot train my hair to go where it was not meant to go. My body neither.
So, I sit in this inbetween. As I writer, I am unabashedly in favor of these words becoming a noun, no longer a preposition or a phrase that governs another noun. I want it instead to govern my life. I want to live in that gray area, because the adage, “When I grow old, I will wear purple,” never applied to me. I have been wearing purple since I was sixteen.
I see inbetween as the world created when I am spinning around, and the whirl which is visible is that inbetween and if I step in that path, follow the energy, I can stay in this world inbetween.