It is your grandparents 30 wedding anniversary and they had a little Italian place in mind to celebrate. An hour later we are arriving on the city shore. The city is known for its cold social atmosphere. People marry at 27 after 5 years of partying with tight-knit groups of boys with slick black hair and girls with the skunk do (black underneath, blond on top) in the pits of belltown; they rarely have children before 30. Walking off the ferry, gape-mouthed individuals watch me go by. They are careful not to touch me as though the baby I am carrying in my belly is a plague they could catch, throwing their careful social strategy way off balance. Just an hour across the water, the friendly faces of our town smile and ask all about you. They ask if your dad was deployed, would he be home for the birth? Your father has never been deployed anywhere in his life, but I blend right in with the young, pregnant Navy wives. It was almost shocking to feel like such a spectacle. So sad, only 24 years old and pregnant, such a travesty!
We have always wondered if choosing this as our home town was the right choice for us and for you. With its diverse population constantly replacing itself as sailor’s breeze in and breeze out, it is not known for its safety or its schools. Our life there is simple. Your dad works 8 days a month at the fire department; I work the early shift. My daily commute takes a whole 10 minutes out of my day and I am snuggled up on the couch at 3:40 with a good book. We somehow make 80k a year at our young ages and our expenses are very low, leaving us plenty to save for the future. Sometimes I get frustrated with the contact flux of our town, make a friend, she moves away, but I would rather raise you a town full of friendly, baby loving faces, then to mingle amongst the cold, hard stares of my so-called peers in the city.
Dinner is as to be expected. Your grandmother and aunt coo over you and all the things you will do in your life: ride horses, play soccer, love dogs, etc. Your grandfather sits idly by. I think you make him nervous. For the first 20 years of his marriage, his life had been all about me and your aunt. Finally we moved out, the pendulum shifted. He convinced grandmother to sell our beloved home on five acres and move to the tree house in the city, perhaps the most unfriendly for baby house in the county and he has spent his days volunteering, riding his bike, taking care of specially chosen immigrants of any African nation and setting his own schedule that revolved around his idea of what city life should mean. You are the pendulum shifter as all energy and focus will swing back to family. I am not sure he is ready for that change.
We eat and I race back down to the ferry, catching it by minutes. I squeeze back into that stupid chair that was designed for someone with short legs, a freakishly long back and perfect posture. I read quietly while you drum my ribcage out of cramped frustration. Finally home, I find your dad resting on the couch. He gets up and walks over to me, and places both hands on my belly and smiles. He cannot wait to meet you.