Escape to Sweden

Weddings are usually a joyous occasion.  And this one was for all those involved.  My sister-in-law got married to her girlfriend in a beautiful, relaxed, outdoor wedding.  Friends and family came from near and far.  There was lots of laughter, as there should be.  I loved taking pictures of them as they made faces, kissed, and with every motion expressed their love for each other.  It was a happy day so I tried not to cry every time a relative hugged me and whispered “I’m so sorry.”  I tried not to look at the very pregnant woman that my husband walked down the aisle.  I tried not to listen as my brother-in-law’s girlfriend sat next to me and cheerfully told people about how her pregnant sister (who is due a few weeks before I was) is “huge” and “so excited”.  (Yesterday, I couldn’t stop the angry tears after hearing about how a friend of a friend got pregnant in college, obviously on accident, and is now pregnant with her third child.)  I tried to enjoy the festivities but between the mosquitos that were feasting on me (my legs actually ache) and the oppressive heat (not to mention the annoying girl that sticks out her chest every time my husband is nearby), I ducked out early, got some Starbucks, and went back to my hotel room.

What better escape is there than a book?  Especially a murder/mystery set in Sweden.  (I would love to go to Sweden.  Right now, I would love to go anywhere but here.)  I am usually wary of books that are a huge sensation.  Early on in the Harry Potter craze, I resisted.  When I finally sat down at Barnes and Noble to read the first one, I ended up buying the first 4 in the series.  Hardcover.  But in most cases, books that are hyped don’t live up to the press.  Like the Twilight series.  I think Bella is annoying, Edward is dull (not at all dazzling), the guy who plays Edward in the movie is ugly, and the guy who plays Jacob should put on a shirt.  Stephanie Meyers has ruined the vampire genre for me.

So I resisted “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” book for as long as I could.  Then my husband asked me to find a book for him to read.  I downloaded this one on his Nook and when he couldn’t put it down (which doesn’t happen very often), I caved.  The first hundred pages dragged.  It took me a few days to get through because I was bored and kept putting it down.  But then it picked up speed and didn’t slow down.  I was near the end when it was time to go the wedding and I brought the book with me, just in case I had time to sit and get a few more pages in.  I finally finished it and I’m satisfied with the ending. There were disturbing parts but it never felt like the violence was gratuitous.  I know I’ll be covering my eyes when we watch the movie.  The title character, Lisbeth, is fascinating.  I can relate to a character that is angry.  I ordered the second book in the series but it won’t arrive until Tuesday.  Until then, I guess I have to go back to reality.  It’s unfortunate that I left the bottle of Pinot Noir at the campgrounds.  I had hoped to have it keep me company tonight.

moving on

Yesterday, we went back to the hospital for our post-loss visit.  It was yet another sign that life goes on.  The doctor told me I could now go back to normal activities.  The word “normal” has lost all meaning.  There’s nothing normal about losing twin babies.   But I no longer have to rest throughout the day, I can start working out, I can go swimming, and sex is one of the “normal” activities she mentioned.  Actually she said “intercourse” which sounds much more clinical.  It wasn’t a surprise since most of our conversation revolved around what to expect the next time I get pregnant.  I had already started reading about the subject so there wasn’t anything new but it was difficult to say things out loud.  Needless to say, we all will be much more cautious and worried the next time around.

And now it’s hard to think about anything else.  I honestly don’t know if getting pregnant again sooner rather than later will help the grieving process or make it worse.  This book has been somewhat helpful in answering some questions and reassuring me my fears and doubts are “normal”.  Again, that word.  Does normal mean that I’m experiencing what others have experienced so that makes it ok, accepted, expected?  I’ve never wanted to be like everyone else.  I prefer “different” to “normal”.  So what then?

A part of me is angry.  That’s normal for me.  I carry a bag that says “I Hate People”.  I have road rage.  Perky people annoy me.  Sometimes I have the urge to break something just so I can hear the sound of glass shatter.  I smile easily but I wear a lot of black which is a more accurate reflection of what I feel than a closet full of pastels and brights.  I’m angry that I even have to have this book in my library.  I put away the “happy, healthy” pregnancy books because the next pregnancy will forever be known as the one “after”. 

I can’t remember which John Hughes/Molly Ringwald movie was my first or what year it was but the top three (Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, and The Breakfast Club) instantly became a permanent fixture in my list of favorite movies. Molly Ringwald was the only actress I loved, until Scarlett Johanssen came along. I realized that I only knew her as the characters she played but something about her spoke to me.

So when I saw this book at Barnes and Noble (50% off) I had to get it. Needless to say, I’m feeling far from pretty these days. The stress of the past few weeks have resulted in hives, the horrible dreams have returned, and I still have the weight and acquired stretch marks, which are only reminders of what I’ve lost. I needed something light to read before bed.

There are some things that are better than therapy. Like having a good girlfriend visit, having lunch outside on a perfect summer day, and then shopping like your credit card doesn’t have a limit. But when out in public, it is inevitable that we would see pregnant women. I knew it wouldn’t be easy but I was surprised at the surge of resentment I felt towards the very perky, very pregnant woman helping us at J Crew. So after my friend left (who was as wonderful as good friends are in these circumstances), I retreated to the safety of my comfortable bed, with Molly Ringwald to keep me company.

Tucked away in the middle of her anecdotes, her advice for how to feel pretty, was a surprise. She had also suffered a late miscarriage in her early thirties. She mentions it but doesn’t go into the details, as she says, it would be a whole other story to tell in another book. Still, it was enough to make me put it down for the rest of the night. Not because it was too painful but because every time I hear or read about someone having a similar experience … I can’t explain the feeling. I felt a deep sadness because I could relate to her desperation. I felt relief because she was another example of a woman who had lost a baby and then had gone on to have three perfect babies. I felt amazed that my adolescent idol and I shared a common experience. It’s complicated. It’s a strange club to belong to. I wish I didn’t.

I haven’t gotten my pretty back but the book made me smile, which is enough for now. (I go back to the gym tomorrow so that will be the next step.) I am more convinced than ever that if I ever met Molly Ringwald, we’d be great friends. Kind of like the Sex and the City women, only much less annoying and shallow.

Week by Week

It has now been two weeks and while I cry less, the days haven’t gotten any easier. The sleepless nights have started. Being around people is becoming a chore. Everything seems too loud and too bright. I got a new Nikon to distract me and because creativity strikes only when I’m at my lowest. Now all I want is to escape. I keep searching for vacation packages and tours in Europe. I would sell whatever I could if it meant I could go to Paris for a week to do nothing but eat cheese and bread and drink wine and read. Before I got married, I would pack up a small suitcase and run away to New York when I needed to get lost. Now I’m tied to this place and these people I love. I’m not the only one suffering so I can’t just leave. I have to find comfort in escaping in books.

In Harold Rabinowitz’s book A Passion for Books, there is an essay by Anna Quindlen titled “How Reading Changed My Life”. In it, she writes,

“Perhaps it is true that at base we readers are dissatisfied people, yearning to be elsewhere, to live vicariously through words in a way we cannot live directly through life. Perhaps we are the world’s great nomads, if only in our minds … Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”

I’ll have to find a book about the New York I miss so much.