Alien Brain

In 2006, I was 20.

I was in college, working part-time as an English tutor. I was married and pregnant.
At 7 am on weekdays, I would drive to the local women-only gym and work my body into a heavy sweat because I was determined to be thin and pregnant. I was determined to be healthy and pregnant and only drink vitamin water and only eat bran and spinach and not ever gain any weight at all.
Because ew.
I also knew somewhere down deep in my bones that I wouldn’t have the kind of issues OTHER women did with pregnancy. For me, it would be a flawless sort of performance I orchestrated to the world through my blog. I would have a basketball under my shirt, for all anyone else knew.
No swelling.
Adorable cravings.
And my baby would come into the world calm and plump and labor would be my crown jewel. I would master it like a natural.

These were my thoughts as I pumped my feet up and down, in and out, twisting them in ways God never intended… even for the Pharisees.

At 7 am, the only other women in the gym were retired women. Every other women in every other stage of life needed to be home by 7 am, except for 20 year old married college students and 76 year old grandmothers.
I wrote down the conversations I overheard in those wonderful mornings, and I’m so glad I did. Nights like tonight, I’m glad I did.

From my old blog, with a few slight clarifications:
“You know what’s sad about these 16 year olds? The day they turn 16, an alien steals their brain and replaces it with theirs. The only good that comes from all of this is that the kid finally gets it back when they turn 22!” I didn’t dare reveal my age -20.
I’m thankful to have heard this conversation as well, a Hispanic grandmother spoke (please read her lines with an accent, it makes all the difference in the effect…) “My daughter, is, you know, pregnant.”
Group of women: Oh! How Exciting! Is this your first grandchild?
Woman: Oh no. This will be my third.
Women: Well, you must be happy.
Woman: Oh. I guess. Yes and no. Yes because it is happy, and no because she is not married.
Women: Oooohhhh.
Woman: But then again, she is 30.
Women: Ah!!
Woman: I know. She needs something.
This is the part where the sweet Hispanic woman leaned forward -she was about to let us in on a big secret…
Woman: I mean, soon she will be 35!
Women: Of course! She needs something!

I think about that conversation now, about how at the time I’d felt like I’d been spared their time-line for brain kidnapping. I felt like maybe they should know that I was 20 and of a perfectly sound mind.
No alien brain going on with me at all! Psh.

I miscarried.
Miscarriage is different for everyone, but for me it changed my life because it made me realize that looking cute while pregnant isn’t important at all. BEING pregnant, though. THAT is truly something.
My focus shifted from knowing for sure that my baby would be calm and wonderful and perfect to just… hoping someday I’d have any kind of baby: screaming, giggling, plump, scant, loud, quiet… I didn’t CARE so long as it belonged to me.

Tonight I’m sitting up in bed.
The house is silent which is thrilling me and making me nervous all at once. Naturally, I’m eating cookies to help myself grapple with the mix of torrid emotions (should I be excited? clean while a toddler isn’t hanging on my pants? watch a black and white movie? Are they breathing? Is the window locked? Will they come out at any given moment? Coughing? Feverish? Or I could do family history… I think I need cookies to help me solve this riddle).

I spent some time today looking for something on my blog, and I found pictures from just 3 years ago and I felt weird looking at them.

I can’t write like I used to. I’m not who I was 8 years ago, even three years ago.
I’ve learned a lot in my little lifetime, and I can safely say that the list of what I’ve learned gets smaller each passing year.

When I was born, I knew who my parents were. I knew when I wanted food, and I knew that when I was uncomfortable I should send up a cry to my parents until either I was taken care of or exhausted into sleep.
As I grew, I added to my list of what I knew.
By the time I was 20, that list was as long as the solar system… I could wrap it around the world and THEN some.

Today I feel like I know as much as I did when I was about 11.
I know that music makes me happy.
I know that writing makes me happy.
I know that I like my blue eyes.
I know that I like kids.
I know that rainy weather is the best kind of weather, no matter what Dad says about freshly cut hay on a field.
I know that God knows me and loves me and LIVES.
I know that there’s endless adventure in imagination.
I know that pistachios are gross and will forever be so.
I know there’s an entire world to uncover, and it is FULL of hidden wisdom from nature to housework to waiting in lines.
I know that adults are the luckiest because they can stay up and LIVE a secret life of cookies and milk IN BED.

As I get older, I hope my list will eventually dwindle down to the core basics and I’ll die knowing simply who my parents are (both earthly and heavenly) and be aware that sending up a cry is the most helpful thing I can ever, ever, ever do.

Apparently, I’ve got my own Curious Case of the Benjamin Buttons.

And I’m glad. I’m glad I’ve blogged through it all.
I hope the person I am in 3 years and 8 years is different still from the person I am now.
I hope the aliens never give my brain back fully because I’m learning so much as I make all kinds of mistakes. Surely, if I had my own brain, I’d never take ONE step out of line, right?

But tonight, I’ll sit in my basic knowledge of what I know, what I love, and what’s important to me in 2014.
and Cookies.

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