Three Month Checkup
I dreaded opening the door and stepping inside, but once I entered the small space lined with draping cloth, I realized it wasn’t as bad as I had thought it would be. I almost felt like myself. Almost. Warm, fuzzy carpet underfoot. Pale yellow walls, speckled with tiny bluebirds. Once my happy place, always my happy place, I suppose. I had imagined the worst, reflections of my former self mocking me in disdain. In reality, the limp garments, organized by color and style, looked just as sad and as lonely as I felt.
I turned on the light, quickly flicking the switch behind the door, and a soft glow illuminated the hanging clothes. A sea of color, bright reds, warm greens, and rows of blue cotton and wool blends half-smiled in return.
A collection of vertical stripes on the far right. A small set of horizontal stripes to the left. My beloved collection of scarves, lovely cloth woven with gold and silver glimmering threads, straight ahead. Purses hanging on hooks above, tucked in a corner. My messenger bag made me smile. Caught a quick glimmer of my former self, wearing my maroon velvet dress, the one with tiny embroidered flowers that reaches my knees, the slightly ruffled sleeves, my brown leggings, and my plaid scarf, tied tightly around my next. My messenger bag full of books and articles I had drafted the week prior. Exploring midtown before a meeting downtown in the late afternoon. I saw my broad smile, lips slick with deep red gloss, and shiny, bouncy curls.
And then the image disappeared, just like my former life. I looked up and saw the sparkling faux-chandelier, with plastic beads, dangling above my head. Though I welcomed fleeting moments of glamour, I never was one for fads and especially never cared for black from head to toe. Why now do I long for solids in deep, dark colors? No time to wonder. I needed to make a decision. Time was running out. The baby was about to wake in the next room. Making decisions had always been my downfall. Proof everywhere but my closet.
I needed to get dressed. I fingered the selection before me. I used to feel such joy at the prospect of the choices. Now I felt only overwhelmed. I knew what I needed, but lacked any ability to locate a satisfactory option. Something that would hide the dark shadows underneath eyes. With no time to shower, I also need something that would distract attention from my limp, frizzled hair. Still trying to lose the final 15 pounds of baby weight, I also needed something that would drape just so across my middle.
I told him again last night. “I’m working on it, it’s harder than I thought it would be.” I watched him shovel his second bowl of double chocolate fudge ice cream in his mouth as I munched on a baby carrot before pureeing the rest of the bag for the baby. Her three-month check-up, less than an hour from now. She was meeting all milestones, but I seemed to be missing each one of mine. Missed a school deadline last week, a newspaper deadline the one before. Haven’t gotten the trash out on time in three weeks.
Finally, I settled, reluctantly, on a navy blazer, with gold tone buttons down each side, made of cotton and Lycra. A tiny butterfly embroidered on the lapel. Nowhere for me to fly. Always thought this piece made me look like I had my act together, even when those who knew me knew I had no clue what I was doing.
As if on cue, the baby cried. I glanced at my watch. Not the Fitbit, I already know I haven’t met step goals in weeks. It was time to go. Together we ventured out to the car and I settled her in the car-seat. I pull the buckle over her sweet, gurgling face. We can do this, I thought. We are doing this. And then she spit up her earlier lunch. Orange carrot puree. All over the butterfly. Nowhere for me to fly.
Jen Schneider is an educator, attorney, and writer. Her work appears in The Coil, The Write Launch, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Popular Culture Studies Journal, unstamatic, otoliths, Zingara Poetry Review, Chaleur Magazine (forthcoming), The Book Smuggler’s Den, 42 Stories Anthology (forthcoming), Voices on the Move (forthcoming), Visual Verse, LSE Review of Books, and other literary and scholarly journals.