the gun to the head
I'm at work when I hear it: even through my door, the unmistakeable shriek of a very young child.
I don't mind kids. I adore them, actually. I taught art to kids for years and years and it was really rewarding. But they were all ages 5 and up. Put me in a room with a kid four years old or younger, and I'll be clawing at the walls within seconds.
Lately (ok, ever since college ended, or maybe since I left my ex of six years, about three years ago) I've been feeling really lost, and questioning the meaning of life and all that stupid self-indulgent crap that overly intellectual people do when they can't find a way to get preoccupied with the practicalities of daily survival.
I'm a single woman. I live in a big city. I'm finding out a few things about myself (I am a mean drunk; I am a committment-phobe even though I didn't start out as one; I am a slob but I truly hate that I live in a mess; etc. etc...) and have discovered and explored a lot within the last few years (from art-raves on dowtown brownstone roofs to the ins and outs of Big Sur, from life as a ho to life as a big fat liar, from dissolving depression to fluctuating and wildly oscillating hope), but I don't feel as though I've made much progress towards stability (do I even want it?) or happiness (would I even know it if it bit me on the nose--and once again, would I even want it? Isn't "happiness" for the cowlike and calm--that is, boring?).
And kids. Issues of kids.
I'm still a damn kid. Well, no, I'm not, but if my dad can stand up and yell that in confusion and protest, then I can too; I'm less than half his age.
There is a prevailing and subtle attitude among women, poisonous and invasive, infiltrating every thought and evaluation of self. It's pretty strong here in the office where I work, with two women popping out babies in July, one having hers last month, and three buns in the oven as of yet; plus the non-preggers ones often have kids too, young kids especially. Some of the women are calm about it, but many are really fucking shrill, shrieking whenever they see a photo of another drooling baby--"Eeeeeeeeeee, she's soooooo cuuuuute!"
I am single. No, not even a single mom. I have nothing to offer up as evidence that I can reproduce. I can't even keep plants alive. I have considered buying a robo-cat--you know those things--so as to derive the character benefits of caring for something, but in case I stay out late one night it won't die or anything.
The pravailing attitude that I hate and am still a victim of is that My Life Is Less Meaningful If I Don't Reproduce. I Am But A Blip In The Universe Amounting To Nothing Without Contributing Organic Matter That Will Go On Long After I Bite The Dust.
You can know this, be aware of it, and even understand that, to a degree, you yourself sit there and wonder what the fuck life is about if you don't at least keep the universal chain going--who are you to drop the rope, the weakest fucking link? selfish bitch! ten billion women died in childbirth to ensure you'd be here today to pop one out yerself--you can know that you're more than an incubator, you can want to believe that you could search out a purpose in life other than caring for children,
but the worry still lingers and nags in the back of your head, haunts you (at least) one week of every month when you're reminded that even your damn emotional state is tied to the pivotal importance, that penultimate goal of reproduction--you can't even fully own your own damn moods, they're partially staked out and leased against your will to children you may never have, may never want--
I can't escape from the fact that I am scared I won't find meaning in life. Kids are, I think, an easy way out. They are the way out most women take.
Most women are relatively happy.
Many are not.
I dunno. I guess I better hit Toys-R-Us and pick up that Robo-Chi Cat.
or I could stay dependent-free forever, if I wanted. There's too much freedom in the world, I sometimes think, and I am bewildered by the multiplicity of paths I could take, even though I am aware that they all seem to--seem to--lead to very little that means anything at all.