Well my friends, I'm happy to say that I went to New York again this past weekend, and I did in fact avoid doing a swan dive across the pavement this time. I was happier about that than is probably normal. (But then I've never claimed to be normal.)
I was visiting the New Messiah, of course, but unlike the last time, I had no half-baked, hair-brained writing ideas to discuss with her. I'm too busy drowning in research and non-fiction submissions to brainstorm any new ideas or force my poor friend to soothe my insecurities. No, I was there purely for a visit, and a celebration.
You see, the New Messiah is pregnant. I know people get pregnant and have babies all the time, but she is my dearest friend, my "favorito" (another old nickname, always pronounced with a fake Italian accent and great gusto), and I have been jumping out of my skin to hug her and admire her growing belly and just celebrate with her since I found out, over six weeks ago. Any new life is a cause for celebration, but when people you dearly love create that new life, and nurture it and nourish it and create space for it to grow, it takes on a bright, vibrant, astonishing meaning.
At my core, I've always been in awe of pregnancy, but that awe fades so easily in the course of daily life. Awe is an overwhelming emotion, a giant, breathless, expansive thing, too big for the needs and pressures of the everyday. Pregnancy is miraculous, but it's too hard to focus on the miracle. It's much easier to grow accustomed to the idea and forget the awe, especially in my day job. I see prenatal clients all the time. I deal with the aches and pains: the sore lower back and the stiff calf muscles; the frustrating symptoms of sciatic nerve compression; the exhaustion and sleeplessness and worry. I treat the symptoms and try to soothe the client, and in the process I forget the fundamental miracle of it all.
And that's what we all do with awe, by necessity. We forget it; we move past it; we let it go, and go about our lives until something grabs us by the shoulders and whispers, urgently, Look. And then we do look, and we stand back and our jaws drop and our lungs expand with wonder. That's what happened this weekend.
I looked at the New Messiah, at the beautiful swell of her stomach ("do you think I just look ambiguously fat?" she asked, eyeing herself in the mirror) and felt overcome by awe. "You're building a life," I said, "Right now, right here, your body is making a new life."
Isn't that ridiculously beautiful? Women's bodies can make new life, without any conscious thought, without any directive: the cells double and quadruple, multiplying themselves into a dizzying array of bone and muscle and skin, stomach and heart and liver. Without any intervention on our parts, our bodies can build new human beings.
I salute you, pregnant ladies. I raise my glass of wine (I did all of the drinking this weekend; the New Messiah opted for almond milk and water) and I let the awe come pouring in, and it's as dazzling and broad as the sun. It's that beautiful.