On greener grass, and growing up

I’m in Santa Barbara, staying with the one college friend who still lives up here, Anabella, and her family.  When I first met her, Anabella was a college freshman, and her daughter Elena was nine months old.  To give my readers, and myself, some perspective on the insane passing of time and how long it’s been since I’ve seen some of my friends, I’m laying out the following facts: Anabella and her high school boyfriend/baby-daddy, Raul, are now married (but don’t tell Anabella’s family that); Elena will be ten in January; and I finally just met Alek, their two-and-a-half-year-old son, for the first time this morning.

Over lunch, at the Panda Express on the UCSB campus, I told Anabella that it’s weird to think that she now has two children; I have so many happy memories of just the three of us girls running around Disneyland, Europe, and EuroDisney – and none of them seem like they took place that long ago.  Then again, it was weird to be on the UCSB campus at all: I almost felt like an intruder in the very places I used to frequent, and wondered whether the few students in the book store or lazing around on the couches outside Nicoletti’s coffee shop could tell that I’m ten years older than they are, and that I no longer belong.

In my memory, and in theory, thinking about coming here and reconnecting with my favorite restaurants and my favorite ex-teen-mom, I am still as young as I was all those years ago.  It took actually putting myself into the environment of studying and collegiate apparel and keggers, for me to fully realize how much has happened since college.  And the vague, uneasy feeling I got walking around campus was enough to remind me that I am not the same person I once was: for better, or for worse, I am older and hopefully wiser now.

In spite of the shifting of years and circumstances, however, Anabella and I are not so changed that we can’t each recognize the other, and I’m glad for that.  What I have always most loved about Anabella is her bluntness, her honesty, and her tendency to curse like a sailor.  We met because I was her writing tutor, and became close because, when I first heard she had a daughter, I asked to interview her about her pregnancy.  I knew nothing of her story before that interview, but I somehow sensed it was one worth telling.  And I was right – the story I wrote about her won the annual fiction award given by my (creative writing) major, and for that I credit the voice of the narrator much more than my own writing/transcribing skills.

When Doug and I arrived late last night, I asked Anabella something my friends and family ask me about every time she comes up in conversation: “Does your family know you’re married yet?”

“No, and they’re not fuckin’ gonna.  They think they know, but it’s not just like I can tell them I’m married, cos then they’re gonna ask me about other shit.  So I just don’t tell them anything.  When I was pregnant with Alek, I didn’t tell my mom or anyone until I was like seven months.  Because they were just gonna give me shit for it and ask more questions, which is then what they did.  And it’s like – I never had a good experience being pregnant, no one was ever happy for me or excited for me, they just gave me shit about it.  And I fuckin’ hate pregnant women, because they’re all happy and excited and I never got that.  And they think they’re so fuckin’ special, but it’s like, I’ve been pregnant, you’re not that special, get over yourself.”

At which point, Doug said, “Where have you been all my life?!”

(I should say here that this tirade was not prompted in any way by my own story and feelings; Anabella is aware of the basic outline of what happened to me, but between raising two kids and studying for law school, has not had time to read much, if any, of this blog.)

So I guess this goes to show that it’s true what they say about the grass always being greener on the other side of the fence, and is another nod in the direction of waiting to make babies, so that my family will be happy and excited and supportive when I finally do.  (Hopefully, this will not result in Anabella hating me, but like I said in my last post, I hope not to be one of those pregnant women anyway.)

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