“I wasn’t sure about this…but it’s been great – thank you so much.”
Alessandra smiled. “It’s been a pleasure, to see your improvements over these months. You hold your head up higher, you smile more…you’re more engaged with me than you were before.”
“And I think…I’m getting so much better at knowing when I’m thinking or speaking negatively, and when it’s unfounded.”
“Yes. I would hope so.” she replied, with a light laugh.
“I…I feel so much better.”
That was a few months ago now. I was free to come back if I felt myself slipping but I didn’t attend regular sessions. Maybe I could have done with more therapy, but even though she was nice, she was expensive. You couldn’t really afford it…you didn’t even need – stop.
I took a few deep breaths and kept walking. Today, I had a plan, of the social kind. Well, kind of. I was just gonna work out with a friend.
Kaylyn raised a hand and smiled. “Heya, Sarai. How’s it all going, huh?”
“Pretty good…that new boutique place on 18th gave me another class, so now I’m doing Mondays to Thursdays. And I’m invited to dinner at my Uncle’s again. You?” I queried, as we headed for the punching-bags.
“Eh…not so good. Vaughn’s gonna be stuck in Bridgeport for who knows how long and I got m’self roped into manicures with Kody’s newest girlfriend.” She rolled her eyes. “I am not in the mood for this shit, ya know?”
“Oh, what? That’s no fun.” I exclaimed. I probably sounded kind of stupid, so I corrected myself. “I mean…sorry. Yeah, that all sounds like it sucks. I hope he gets back soon and you can think of an excuse.”
Laughing, Kaylyn shook her head. “Trust me hon, I’m already trying. You can help me after we beat these bags into submission. And remember, let’s not go easy on each other. I’ll call you out if you’re slacking and you’ll be doing the same, hmm?” She reached for her boxing gloves.
I nodded and grinned. There were perks to having a friend as fitness-mad as me. We’d actually met because she came to one of my yoga classes. I wasn’t supposed to be teaching that one but Jalen called in sick that afternoon, and I still pick up anything that needs to be done at work.
“You’re really good.” she’d said. “Actually better than the other guy, I’d say.” Immediately I hadn’t believed her, but then why would she lie to a total stranger?
“Um…thanks. Seriously, thanks a lot! That’s so nice of you to say.” I’d returned, a little hesitantly.
“It’s only what I’m thinkin’.” And we ended up chatting a lot more about yoga, and then we moved onto exercise in general…
Somehow four months later we were good friends…I didn’t screw it up, and I’m really glad about that. It’s always so much fun with her. Talking about ourselves and our lives had got to be as easy as working out together. I’d met her brother, Kody, and her fiancé Vaughn. She’d met Dianne, and they got along pretty well. Yes, I had another friend, and while that might be a bit pathetic to celebrate, every little thing helps.
You didn’t tell her everything, I reminded myself as I walked home. I’d told her about my job, and small things that went on in my life…I was still in therapy when we met and I hesitantly brought it up. I wanted to test her reaction, I suppose…but it was fine. I even mentioned some of my ex-flings from ages ago, when the situation called for it, and I brought up Clarissa in a fairly normal fashion when we started talking about family.
I didn’t talk about Nolan though. Kaylyn didn’t know I’d been pregnant and given the kid up. But she was already having a shitty week…why would I bring that up today? I could still hear Alessandra in my head: good and healthy friendships are supposed to be reciprocal…but it wouldn’t be if I started talking about Nolan. She never dumped stuff like this on me.
Today would have been a good time if I was going to tell her…it’s nearly a whole year since I gave birth. Tomorrow would be his first birthday. Maybe I’d get another email. No matter how upset the first one made me I’ve still anticipated the next one with at least some excitement.
I sometimes wished Lela would email me more…but you’re not entitled to that so stop fucking whining about it.
He would be crawling around and trying to talk by now…I think. I don’t know much about babies. And honestly, I’m not sure I would have made the best parent. Not enough money, no father in the picture, no family who wanted to help me…
I needed to sort out my life and issues before I could be ready. And that’s why it was so damn stupid to miss him and whine about it…I mean, that’s why I thought that, in the past.
I knew that both sentiments could coexist but I still had yet to believe it.
Perhaps I was doing better. Six months ago the idea simply hadn’t occurred to me. I was sure that anything I felt about Nolan was shameful. Ridiculous. Maybe it didn’t make logical sense but I had felt better after I just…let the feelings happen.
Nolan’s first birthday! was the subject of the email I received two days after that date. As usual, there were pictures of him enclosed, and Lela’s polite, chatty prose surrounding them.
And it hurt a little, to see it. I reminded myself you can be sad. It doesn’t matter that you couldn’t raise him, or that it’s been an entire year. I can be upset and then move past it. It will make me feel better in the long run.
I’d finally let myself grieve, all those months ago when Alessandra advised me to just feel.
I don’t know if I miss you. I didn’t really even know you. I traced my finger down his dimpled, smiling face. So much has changed since he was born…for the better. I’m not sure how things would have gone if I’d kept him. Then again, why think about that? What I’ve managed to get done this year…it’s surprising, in the best possible way. It’s been a good one. And that’s what matters.