Monday, July 16, 2012

I Almost Wrote A Book Once


There was a time, when I was 23-ish, when I was really poor.  A peanut butter sandwich for every (once a day) meal poor.  No heat in the wintertime poor.  Relative to most people in the world, I feel compelled to say, I still had it pretty good, but since I've never lived in the slums of a third world country, it felt rough.  Luckily despite having no money, I was happy and sort of perpetually drunk on youth (and, well, alcohol, if we're being honest).  I made friends with baristas, barroom and tavern tenders who would slyly top me off or slide a filled glass of an "accidental pour" my way with a wink. I eventually extracted their stories between chapters of books I'm now embarassed to have loved so deeply: books whose spines I'd crack to tent on the table or counter top while I asked, "where are you from?" and "do you have any kids?" I thought, then, about how funny it would be for my own parents to be baristas or bartenders, but now I think about myself putting on running shoes, taking the last bus, tying on the apron each night and wondering whom I might 86, and for what.  Whom I'd tell, sympathetically, to sit down for goodness sake, be quite while I called a cab.

I worked at a coffee shop and hotel then.  The late night/overnight shifts.  I'd taken the jobs because I thought it would be closest to learning something about the human condition.  Also, for the money. Instead, I did what one might expect a barista or 3rd shift hotel auditor to do: I remade specified nit-picky coffee drinks for people of the same type; I mopped up vomit from the elevator floor and walls; I removed perverts and drug dealers from their rooms and refunded cash money for drinks that were made correctly and were almost 3/4 of the way finished before the "mistakes" were noticed.

All of my paycheck went to rent, bills, food and tipping the aforementioned baristas and bartenders.  The one perk of working at a hotel was giving away free toiletries to the homeless and other people in need, giving good folk a warm place to sit or sleep while the nighttime wandered by, and enjoying good conversation with people from all over the world. I made good connections at the coffee shop as well, but less time was spent with each customer.

I cashed my last paycheck, and a majority of it went toward my last month's rent, food for the new place and my new life.

Becoming a mother is always something I'd wanted, but for a huge chunk of my adult life, was something I thought wouldn't happen. Here I am, a mother, almost married and completely settled down. One of my biggest worries for my postpartum period was depression. I'm still in my post partum period.  It turned out to be unfounded.  I didn't have any "baby blues" so to speak, though I did have some decent crying jags resulting from some inaccurate accusations and wanting to not cry in front of anyone (though most of all my newborn boy) only made me cry more. I don't have suicidal thoughts, nor do I want to kill my child (how awful that some women go through this, and some children as well!) What I didn't bother worrying about, because it wasn't something that I was warned of, was the crippling pain from recovery.  The fatigue is something S and I are handling quite well, due to having worked the overnight shift for years, but the pain isn't something we were ready for.

In any case, our little Oliver Gray is well worth the pain and discomfort. We love him, more and more each day.


Oliver Gray, 6 days old.