I stepped out of time last week.
On Tuesday, I flew to Toronto and as soon as I stepped out of the airport into the humidity and haze to catch the bus and the subway downtown, I felt like I was also stepping into a past life, one where the old me – competent, self-assured, capable – still existed. I went to meetings, visited a friend and her newborn son, walked around the university campus, Kensington Market, Chinatown. I stayed in the same hotel I stayed in when I was eight months pregnant with E, the night Obama was elected, when hope was electric, tangible, something you could wave triumphantly above your head in a crowd of people doing the same.
I wasn’t exactly the old me. It was more like I was some kind of ghost or apparition trailing after my more solid former self; the earlier version of me who walked the campus, hugely pregnant with E and full of assurances of my brilliant future; the version of me who pushed baby E on swings and chased toddler E through fountains, always thinking of her as my first, assuming another would follow, assume its obvious place in our family.
In Toronto, there had not yet been a version of me without A, the broken version of me, and my ghostly present self followed my former whole self around the city remembering, remembering and forgetting, too: remembering the future I once believed was mine to grab onto, forgetting how efficiently the recent past has forced that future aside.
And then I flew to New York and even further away from that recent past. I pushed it right down, locked it tightly away. I ate moules et frites in Chelsea, brunch in the West Village, toured the MoMA, rode the carousel in Central Park. Pretended, pretended, pretended.
Last night there were thunder storms in Toronto and no planes were going in or out of the airport. Stranded at La Guardia, I watched time tick by until there was no hope of making my connection from Toronto to Vancouver. I finally went standby on the earliest plane out of NY, but more thunder storms left us in the air, circling Toronto, unable to land. When we finally did, I had ten minutes to race through customs, convince the airline to get me a boarding pass for the last plane out of Toronto, and run through the airport to domestic departures, go through security and find my gate. To get the boarding pass I had to cry big tears and I had a spectacular fall outside security as I sprinted down the linoleum hall in slippery-soled sandals. But I made it.
Vancouver at 2:30am was cold and rainy and I knew I was back as soon as I stepped into the dark and drizzle. It was all there again: Anja, this last miscarriage, the uncertain future. I left everything for 5 days. Shook it off. Looked at it only from a distance, out of the corner of my eye.
Re-entry has been brutal. I have just come from the doctor’s office, where the waiting room was so full of pregnant women that there was no place to sit and where I sobbed and sobbed while the doctor explained again to me that there is nothing more to do, nothing more to try. She saw me out through the waiting room, held my shoulder, which shook still, and pressed a whole box of tissues into my hands. I sat on a bench by the elevators, defeated, depleted, while women and their happy bellies went in and out, in and out, sparing only the briefest of glances for me and hoping, hoping no doubt that since it happened to me (whatever it was) it wouldn’t happen to them.