“Crossroads…Sometimes you can see it as it’s happening, and you’re able to choose one way or another. Other times you may not realize you’re there until you look back, and see what a turning point it really was.”
Danielle at Sometimes Sweet is relaunching Journal Days and the excerpt above is from her first prompt. Below is my response. (If you’d like to join in, she posts prompts on her site every Sunday evening and responses, including hers, are posted on Thursdays.)
I was sitting at my desk in my office of the literary agency where I worked in New York City when I got the call. I had been to the gynecologist the day before for my yearly exam. This doctor was also a fertility specialist and when he asked if we planned to have kids I said yes, that we weren’t trying at the moment but we weren’t not trying either. We were letting it happen when it would happen. He decided to take some blood because I had been off birth control for four months and he just wanted to “get the ball rolling”, whatever that meant. (I now know what that meant.) So there I was sitting at my desk, door wide open, about to cram some food in my mouth (I had been so hungry lately) when the receptionist transferred a call back to me. It was the nurse from my doctor’s office.
As I remember the conversation went something like this:
“This is so-and-so from Dr. Gyno’s office.”
“Oh, hi.” Something within me shifted and I pushed my food aside. It was entirely possible that she was calling to say that my blood work was fine and to make a follow-up appointment with the doctor should we have trouble once we started actually trying to get pregnant. But I knew this wasn’t the case.
“I have your blood work results,” she said. “Are you aware that you’re pregnant?”
“Lara? Are you there?”
“Are you sure you have the right Lara?”
Heavy sigh. “Yep.”
“Are you sure you didn’t accidentally switch my files with someone else?”
Heavier sigh. “Yep.”
“How far along am I?”
“According to the blood work you’re about seven weeks along.”
More words were exchanged, a prenatal appointment was scheduled, and I hung up the phone. I was pregnant.
I made one decision quickly with no hesitation and no input from Zach. We were going back to Indiana. (Insert Jackson Five song here). I didn’t fully realize it at the time, but this decision became my crossroad, the crux of everything “before” and everything “after”.
My childless life was in New York. My mothering life is in Indiana.
My professional career was in New York. My work-from-home-part-time/mother-full-time life is in Indiana.
I was a newlywed, a mere child, in New York. I’m an adult living a responsible life in Indiana.
I was in my third trimester when we moved from New York. When I think of our last day in the city, a montage of images comes flooding to the surface like a silent film. This film is always underscored with the sadness and finality of saying goodbye, a low and slow song playing on the track. But when I think more, when I tap into what I was really feeling that day, joy seeps in. Excitement for the unknown.
I remember waking up on that cold December morning, walking the hallway from our bedroom to the kitchen, feeling the hardwood beneath my feet, catching a glimpse of the rising sun outside our wall of windows in our tiny living room. I made a cup of coffee and sat on the couch surrounded by moving boxes. I was happy there. We loved the city. I loved my job. But we both wanted to be near our parents as we welcomed this new addition into our lives. I watched the snow lightly falling outside and I was viscerally aware of the conclusion to this chapter in our lives. I had dreamed of a life here since I was a little girl, and now I was saying goodbye to my beloved city.
Later, as our life was getting packed into the U-Haul, I walked to the Starbucks down the street one last time. I went into our corner market and bought snacks for the road. I checked our mailbox and turned in our keys. As we drove away, I looked back only once.
Now, when I think back to our life in our little apartment on the Upper East Side and the day we drove away, I want to cry I miss it so. Now, I think I would have done it differently. I think I would have stayed.