Yesterday in the mail we got two teeny tiny pairs of baby socks from a close relative.  They are so cute and almost made me cry.  It still seems unreal that we're having a baby, even as my fat seems to be coalescing into something that looks almost pregnant and the weeks keep passing. 

I am about to order a reclining rocking chair thing called a "glider" and needed to pick out fabric.  I found a local baby store that carries the brand of glider I'm about to order and the name of the store sounded familiar.  It was only when I got there that I realized that this baby store is right next to my regular grocery store, Trader Joe's, and I passed it at least twice a week the whole time I was trying to conceive.  I went into this store once during that period when a dear friend was having a baby.  I agonized about going to her shower, finally decided I couldn't, and went into that baby store to buy her a gift. 

The baby store is quite an assault, isn't it?  There are powdery baby smells in the air, there is tinkly music – I noticed a music-box-ish version of "Hotel California" when I was in there and I don't know what to think about that – and the places seem hosed down with blue, pink and white.   When I bought for my friend I didn't know the sex of her baby so I just ran in and grabbed something pale yellow and got out of there fast.

I had email from a friend yesterday who said she was usually able to separate her own grief from happiness for others, and when I read that I felt like a loser.  I just sucked at that.  Looking back now on the showers I skipped and the friends I distanced myself from, I wonder if I could have gotten better at that.  I tried, I guess.  I grieve with intensity and focus, because I don't want to sweep things under the rug, something I used to do: that's how I got to be 250 pounds back in the day, by eating my feelings. Grief isn't something anybody can control, so I guess it was what it was.  I do think I got better at it, and not just because I'm now getting what I wanted.

I think.

Anyway, I pulled up to the baby store and felt amazed that I was walking in there like I belonged.  There were other women in there, young thin women with beautiful perfect round bellies, and I fixated on not belonging in that way, what with my age and my pregnancy pre-fat, and then I had to shrug and get down to the serious business of picking out fabric for my baby to barf on.

I feel sad looking back, that every time I passed that baby store over the past 4 years I got a little dose of The Feeling.  For me the cocktail is/was: left out left behind aging frustrated shameful lost bitter afraid, and whatever else, depending on the day.  I reinforced the feeling, made it a habit, like turning off the lights or parking in the same spot every time.   If there were more hours in the day maybe I could have stopped that feeling in its tracks and lined it up with what I believed, which was that I still had hope.  We were still in the game, and we were staying in for as long as we could.  But I didn't.  I walked into Trader Joe's and since I shopped in the daytime, marinated in The Feeling some more what with the babies and pregnant mamas all over the place.  I guess whatever you are going through, you see it everywhere, so eh: I did my best.

I'm glad to say that I have other little doses when I pass other landmarks in this city, and those are happy reminders.  There's the intersection where I came up the little hill and saw the sign that said "26," which meant I had completed 26 miles of my first marathon, and as you crest that little hill in the last moments of the Chicago marathon, realizing that all you have left to do is the .2, you also see the bleachers and the cheering people and the big, big sign that says "Finish."  I get a big smile every time I go past that street.

There are restaurants where I had great dates, and stretches of the lakefront that were always amazingly beautiful no matter the season, there is the Target where I bought the first of many pregnancy tests that were finally, amazingly, positive.  There is the spot on the sidewalk where my husband and I stood and talked for what turned into hours, on a night when we weren't dating but realizing we maybe should be.  That spot is just in front of the house where we ultimately spent our wedding night, and our first five years.

It's hard to leave this city but it's nice to leave the sad reminders.  I hope that the good ones will stay with me and the bad ones will fade.