As part of the BlogHer ’14 Selfiebration, Julie Ross Godar asked a question today: Where were you ten years ago?
Funny timing, that.
Exactly 10.5 years ago, on December 19, 2003, I moved to Ohio. I meant to blog about it on the 10 year anniversary back in December, but this December hit me hard. Harder than most Decembers. The date came and went and I kept on living in Ohio.
But 10.5 years ago, my now-husband showed up with a U-Haul truck and parked outside of my apartment building. My father, grandfather, and love of my life worked to pack what little I had into the truck. I carried light things, gingerly, having just given birth to the Munchkin six days earlier. The woman upstairs asked my dad questions about being a new grandpa; he didn’t make eye contact as he offered his answers. I cried in the empty bathroom.
By the time we set off for Ohio, the snow started to fall. I followed behind the U-Haul in my gray Mercury Topaz, hoping not to slip and slide on the narrow roads we needed to take to get to the main highway. Eventually we arrived at the apartment. I moved to Ohio sight unseen; my now-husband sought out and rented our first place without me as my complicated pregnancy kept me on bedrest. I pulled up in front of the brown brick building and smiled.
The first six months in Ohio passed quickly. I quickly found a job to hold me over until a job opened at the local NBC affiliate. I worked a lot. I burned a lot of meals. We learned that thick chicken breasts take all the hours to grill on a charcoal grill. I learned how to live with a boy. I learned how to be a birth mother involved in fully open adoption. I cried a lot. I missed my baby more than I could verbalize at the time, more than I thought I was allowed to verbalize at the time.
And then that June, 10 years ago, my daughter and her family came to visit.
I don’t remember the specifics about that visit.
But I remember feeling simultaneously happy and sad. I remember being overwhelmed and at peace. I remember wondering how feeling those opposite extremes could be possible. I didn’t know yet that I’d be living that dichotomy for the rest of my life, that the pain would dull but would always be present.
Ten years ago I didn’t know what I was missing in having chosen not to parent my daughter. I didn’t know that postpartum depression and the grief of relinquishment were mixing together in a volatile way. I didn’t yet know what I didn’t know. Ten years ago I was still living under the guise that it would get easier; I believed what the unethical adoption facilitator spoon fed me. I needed to believe it or I wouldn’t have made it through that first year.
Ten years ago I had no idea the joy that yet awaited me. Or the heartache. Or the hard work. Or the laughter. Or the tears. Or the other children I would parent. Or the miscarriage. Or the dog. Or the friends. Or the love. Or the houses. Or anything. Ten years ago I was a tired, broken little girl, missing her daughter, in love with a boy, and hoping against hope that the future would be worth living for…
…and it was.