I’ve become enchanted by the pelvic tunnel. After the cervix fully dilates–and wait, let me tell you that before the birthing videos and the dated computerized animation, I had this image of dilation as if the cervix was opening while the baby was suspended above waiting patiently, as if for a portal in a future space ship hallway that will open with a mechanical exhale. But no, this is not it at all. The cervix is opening around the head of the baby as it pushes down down, the force of the baby stretching, the uterus pulsing, the uterus pushing. So yes, this portal does not gradually ease open of its own accord, the babe waiting patiently; no, it is opening because the babe is there pushing on that exit. After this stage the babe rotates in order to squeeze first through the bones of the pelvic inlet and then leaves through the outlet and this part of the process is somehow my favorite because (I think) I never thought nor even heard of, certainly did not focus on, this stage–the babe passing through a tunnel of bone and cartilage. It seems almost graceful. Swimmerly. After that (I’m pretty sure I’m getting my stages right) comes the active pushing and that is something else but right now I like the tunnel best…as if the babe is diving out of a cave with an underwater entrance. Or perhaps this; did you ever swim beneath a floating dock to pop up in a new area of the lake? Hah, like a beaver’s den.
I don’t know how to write myself fully. I’ve been writing a memoir, and have been shaping and changing it for years, and it is almost right, but always I come up against this wall–and it feels like a literal wall. I can tell that on the other side is a more authentic voice, a voice I can access when writing other parts of myself, but which I lose when I try to write the stories of my father, of Mexico, of my skin. I still, after years of thinking and talking and reading, can’t tell this all the way. I stopped speaking those parts of myself when I was fourteen and it has been so much harder to begin to tell it again than I imagined it would be. I thought the deciding to tell it would be the hard part. But no, I’ve decided, and I still often feel like I’m tunneling through a wall of rock. Or bone.
I am afraid and as much as I don’t want to be I still am. I want to be free in my body, in my skin, in my voice. To be free in my body will be the same as being free in the telling of my body.
Across the street is a school. At night various windows light up as, I think, janitors move through the rooms cleaning. My school is not cleaned by janitors at night. The students clean at the end of every day, and we help, and on the weekends two people come in and do the deeper scrubbing. My school is not orderly. Sometimes when adults visit they are turned off by the almost-chaotic jumble of it. It can be hard to see what it is happening beneath the precarious stack of books in the library; the glitter coating the art room table. But it is a space for kids, and not an adult’s vision of what those kids want from a space. This is my third year there and the lesson that has taken me some time to learn is that to truly hold a young person’s view at the center of their education is a much more radical re-thinking than I’d previously imagined. The simple act of accepting that I do not see a room in the same as a ten year old does, and that the ten year old’s vision has it’s own worth…Many of us prefer the vision of school in which rooms are cleaned at night when children are gone, rooms organized and maintained by adults. I wonder what the kids think of that? To leave a space and return to it magically swept bare of the detritus of the day before as if it never existed.
When I get into trouble is when I get feeling that there is no me, just versions of me, and that the gaze of others, what they perceive is what determines who I am. That feeling of being constantly changeable. Wait, that is not what I’m afraid of. I feel that way, yes, changeable, but what I’m startled by, uneasy with, is that…and here is the wall once again. I think I’m afraid of the chaotic room.
As if I could control how I am perceived in the world. As if anyone can.
I have not accepted the skin I live in. What an odd statement.
Some stories done’t have resolution.
But I am going to give birth. In one form or another. I’ll moan and move and make low humming noises to open the sphincter of my throat so that the sphincter that is my cervix will open wider and probably in all that opening and moaning I’m going to poop and it will be in front of other people, in front of B., who I don’t even like to fart in front of if I can help it. And everything will be opening and I’ll be moaning and making noises and movements and I will be in a land beyond care or concern or even thought of what others or the world think of me; I will be deep down in my body, letting my body lead me, and how could there be a thing as poisonous as pretense in the midst of all that?