This is odd, but sometimes when I am thinking about cleaning the bath, or taking a bath, or washing my face, the image that I think of --the room that occurs to me-- is not the one in the house I live in now; but, almost invariably it is the bathroom from the house that my dad built in the country. I will think, "I need to clean the bath," and that terribly ugly blue bathtub from my folks house materializes in my mind.
Anyhow, what I was thinking is there must be a story in there, in the bathroom in my mind, that is wanting me to coax it out. So, I thought on it for a little bit and I said, "Okay, so what do you want me to tell about." And the picture that came to me was of something that happened when I was 23 while in the blue bathroom that changed with me in my life.
A year or so before I'd come home to live with my mom and dad after a few years of living away. I was working and living, but mostly what I was doing was partying, and I crashed most often on my friend Linda's couch in town on the weekends.
And I met this guy. This young man, I met him on his 21st birthday. To me, he looked like an Indian brave with all this wild, long, black hair and his nose was sharp and also, funny enough, a little flat. I liked the way his jawbone curved up around his ears and the skin that covered it was kind of an olive white with seemingly no pores ~ it just glowed, so touchable. I'd never seen skin like that. When I first saw him, I think I remember my heart flipped over on itself because his teeth were so bright and lined up in his mouth like God had taken time with each, one by one, like picking perfect pearls and carefully placing them in his gums. And what I did, because I couldn't help myself, was watch him.
My girlfriends and I would go to this bar on Thursday nights to drink and dance, and he would come in sometimes, usually by himself, but once he came in with a stunning girl. I stared at him from the other side of the bar until she noticed, and she was obviously annoyed by me, and she maybe commented to him about it. He came over to me and sat down, I think to set me straight, and he said, "Hey, sweetheart."
I went, "That's not my name."
He was like, "I'm sorry?"
I said, "That's not what I go by. I'm not Sweetheart."
He didn't say anything for a minute while he looked around, and then went, "Okay." And he walked back to the pretty girl, and I smiled at her, but she didn't smile back.
Later, Linda and I walked down to the convenience store close-by, and he was there inside with his buddy. I waved at him and he waved to me, and then as we were all walking out at the same time, he was holding the door for us, I took ahold of his arm and pulled him out of the store and made him skip with me all the way back to the bar.
When we got to the front door I asked him, "Where's your girlfriend?"
He said, "She ain't my girlfriend."
I went, "Okay, so where is she?"
He was like, "I dunno."
Linda came around the corner and met up with us and she asked him, "Who are you?"
I introduced them, and then I said to her, "I'm going to keep this one. Okay?"
She shrugged, "Okay."
He and I chatted outside and he told me so many lies and fed me so much bullshit which I ate up like chocolate, and begged for more. He was so glorious to me. I'd never met any man this beautiful, and he was as careless and wild as I wanted to be. Later, we went back to Linda's apartment where he and I slept in her roommate's room. I woke early and saw him there beside me, and thought to myself, "Oh crap."
Time went on and for awhile I was kind of into him. Sometimes I wanted to be with him, sometimes not. He often cramped my style, but he was so fun that I just settled into the routine of being his girlfriend.
Something strange happened though. Something got serious.
He told me about a scholarship he was given to be able to attend school for free but that the opportunity would run out when he was 22. I knew he couldn't let that happen so we worked together, making phone calls, filling out registration, etc... and in a few months, he went from living in a constant stupor on some guy's couch to being a Freshman at our local University. I decided to pursue an education too, and attended a community college. I thought that I might like to go on to University too, and maybe do something in medicine. People who'd been around us, our partying friends fell away, and it ended up just us for awhile. I wasn't in love, but there was something deep that held me to him.
Over Thanksgiving break we went to Florida and something shifted inside me while we were there. I looked at him in another way and I saw a young man with a bad temper, childish reactions to things, his pouting and....ok, this is getting really boring, I know, I know. But it wasn't even him, something happened inside me that made me more sure about my life and what I wanted. At the time I never would have guessed that not only was it my mind and heart that were changing, but my entire body chemistry ~ and how it was all working together to recreate my future...
Wtf does this have to do with a blue bathroom right? How 'bout I fast forward?
Okay, so on the way home from Florida he blew his top over my sticking one of those plastic thingies that you push in through the rind of an orange to drink juice right from the fruit? He told me they didn't work, but I wanted to try anyhow. I thought it was brilliant, this little pokey thing, and the idea of being able to use it to drink directly from the oranges that I was bringing back from Florida was too much temptation for me. I poked it in and the juice ended up all over his car seat. He hit the roof, he was so angry, and then my immediate thought was, "I hate this beautiful boy. I'll wait 'til after Christmas and then break up with him."
A few weeks later, though, I was in the blue bathroom upstairs in my parent's house. Many secret things went on in there over the years, but this was the biggest secret of all. And it was between me and whatever was going on inside of me. I took the test that I bought at the store on my way home from work that day, I removed it from it's aluminum and paper wrapper, and held it under the stream of urine as directed. Who knew that this was something that I'd brought back with me from Florida, too? The line turned dark, dark blue. It was like the test was speaking to me boldly, "This is your answer, lady. Don't ask me again."
My mother called up to me from the bottom of the stairs and asked, "Well, how is it?"
I was staring in the mirror by then. No college for me now. And it was here at this moment that I learned something very important, much more important than anything I'd learned up to this point in my life, and it was this: Things happen. You can try to plan your life, but it's not ever going to be the way you think. And also, the way I chose to react to this thing was going to affect everyone around me and most particularly the little zygote forming into personhood inside my belly. I thought to myself, "How I respond to her will affect her response and everyone's response to me and to this little baby for the rest of our lives."
So I said through the closed door, "It's fine."
She asked, "Fine as in you're not pregnant?"
I said, "No, fine as in I am."
I think she still had some dramatic reaction to it, but for me, and this is the first truly conscious thought I had about my personal future, and it was inside me, inside that blue bathroom that I understood something, and it said, "I see. Okay, this is what it's about. This is what I'm going to do. I'm going to be a mother."
So, it was not long after this that I did say goodbye to the wild, dark beauty with the luminous skin, and to his sparkly teeth, too ~ although, I did end up keeping him in a way that I never expected.....