There is a table in the lobby. It is long and wooden positioned right below a big mirror. There people leave things they no longer want: old fax machines, magazines, sneakers, books. I am the resident manager and this leaving of things annoys me only when no one takes it. I am left to throw away these items. Things that could have easily been given as a donation, somewhere else, not in the lobby of my building. There was a pocket sized New Testament once. I picked it up. This is a book I couldn’t throw out, I couldn’t leave it on the sidewalk, I couldn’t give it to a random person. I had to keep it and for a year it lived between my Moroccan Arabic Phrasebook and El diccionario de sinonimos y antonimos bought in Venezuela when I was there in 1996.
My son is now 5 weeks old. He has lived his days between arms of those who love him. I have only been away from him minutes at a time, missing him and calling my mami to see how he is doing. Yesterday I went for a walk with my friend. I left my mami with 5 ozs of my milk. I gave her instructions and hoped that it wouldn’t be too hard for either of them. The sun was out. Its rays hit my toes. There was a chill in shady areas. I was afraid to catch a cold. I thought of myself confined in my bedroom pumping milk, sweating and sick, not able to see my son.
We went to Arizmendi. I was treated to pizza and a root beer sitting outside. I watched the beautiful people of Oakland pass by. I saw the mamas pushing the strollers or carrying their babies on their backs. I saw the dogs. The endless amount of dogs take over the sidewalk. I wondered if my skin would darken sitting outside of Arizmendi. I have been home for weeks looking out the living room windows at the trees and the birds. The root beer was good. It became my new favorite. There on the table was the cap. It had writing. In the inside it read, Luke 1:37. I thought the root beer bottling was more hipster than religious. Or maybe it was both.
For the past five weeks I have only written in my head. I write books and plays while I nurse my son in his sleep. I wish that the words would leave my mind and walk unto the page. Any page. Somewhere else. But the words don’t. They are locked away and I wonder if I will be able to write. Then I read stories of writers who have shared similar nights. Perhaps not nursing their sons but still in bed writing words on the walls with their pupils.
For the past five weeks I have begun learning what it is to be a mother. I have learned what it is to remain still, to be totally dependent. There is a scar above my bikini line. It is black and sometimes it is sore. All throughout my pregnancy I was pleased not to have any stretch marks. Instead I got a scar where they pulled my baby out. That scar reminds me of my imperfections and my failures.
I wonder sometimes why I couldn’t give birth at home. Sometimes I have a hard time completing things. The end is always so hard. I go through my over fifty hours of labor at home and four days in the hospital. I try to figure out what exactly went wrong. I know everything is God’s will but somehow I feel at a loss. I wonder if somewhere in back of my mind I was too scared to finish the job. I couldn’t give birth naturally in a birthing tub, in my kitchen because it meant I actually had to complete something. I needed help. Like heavy drugs to soothe me, to make me relax, to actually fall asleep. I went to the hospital, a place I still don’t want to give birth in again. They helped me. I had sweet nurses who gave me more pillows and filled my water bottle. I knew that with a touch of button someone would be at my side. So the whole time I had to not be upset. I had to take everything in stride because I had my baby in my arms. And if I got frustrated at the nurses constantly coming in and asking me the same questions, at them grabbing my breasts without asking me anything to see if my milk was coming out, at my son being picked up all hours of the night to be weighed, I would have made it worse for myself and I would have been ungrateful. I still have to write about that. All of that. But I am afraid that it will make me cry.
On my bedside table there is a tube of Barq’s root beer lip balm. I don’t like that root beer but I like the taste on my lips. I put it on last night before getting into bed. Then I remembered. Luke 1:37. I went to the living room to the shelf where the pocket size New testament lived. I took it into bed. My husband perplexed. I have not read the Qur’an in weeks and here I was with the Bible. I opened it to Luke right away. There I read: “For with God nothing will be impossible.”
Sighs and smiles.