I know “normal” is at best a completely arbitrary term, at worst maliciously exclusive…but I don’t really know anyone like me. One of my two all-time favorite books is Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love, a dark story about a family of carnival freaks that really challenges conventions of “normal” and makes social norms look dreary and undesirable. I’ve thought a lot about this novel since I first read it, as I’ve lived my own story while witnessing the kids I grew up with finish school, start satisfying careers, get married and have beautiful children.
My little sister had MDS. She died of complications from a bone marrow transplant right around my high school graduation. I wanted to take a year off, but my parents dragged me kicking and screaming onto a plane to Cleveland so I could do my freshman year at Oberlin College as planned. I don’t blame them–they needed their own time to grieve, and thought it would be best for me to continue my life as planned. However, instead of succeeding I had a psychotic manic break, crashed into depression and took a bottle of Tylenol. I survived, but thus began my life of mental hospitalizations, outpatient programs, medications and therapy. To this day, with a few blips along the way such as a brief struggle with drug addiction and alcoholism (today I have 13 years clean) and a shockingly successful 3 year “career” as a phone sex operator and fetish wear model, I am still basically a professional mental patient.
I often talk about feeling like I exist on the fringes of society. I felt that way before I met my surprisingly “normal” husband, fell madly in love and then learned I was infertile–and let me tell you, finding out you are infertile by immediately conceiving a chromosomally compromised baby and having to have a second trimester abortion so she would not suffer as she died is brutal as fuck. The loneliness that had plagued my adult life since forever became a living, breathing entity that suffocates me and leaves me exhausted and desperate before my eyes flutter open each morning. It feels self-indulgent to say it, but my life is hard (I do however recognize that my solid middle-class background has bestowed many privileges on me). I’ll say it again: my life is fucking hard.
Maybe Molly was my last shot at normal. The thought sends shivers down my spine. Sure, maybe someday I’ll get my shit together and have a career as a writer, but right now…idgaf if I do or not. I want to see my husband smile as he holds our child in his arms. I remember when I was pregnant with Molly how he’d want to sleep with his hand on my belly…in my subsequent pregnancies, I’ve been too terrified to let him. Those innocent little moments we had with her–we’ll never have them again. And I fucking hate it. I really fucking do.