“So you’re going to think about it?” He put the puppy eyes on.
I ran my foot up and down his leg, feeling his smooth hair. “Maybe. You really don’t want me to work?”
“It’s not that I don’t want you to work. You don’t really need to anymore. I know you’re always in limbo about your job.”
I shifted my eyes upward.
“You won’t look at me, so that means you know I’m right. I’m surprised you’ve lasted as long as you have.”
He was right. I love what I do…sometimes. And truth be told, it’s not the work that drives me insane, it’s the people I work with. Out of a group of say, eight, I’m the only one who doesn’t have children. When marketing events are scheduled for the weekend, someone throws my name in the bucket, assuming I’m available because I’m childless. As if letting their children run wild in a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant is more important that whatever I do or don’t do.
What gives them the right to feel so entitled? They’re only kids. Cute, but also whiny, bad-ass kids who if not loved properly, will grow up to be serial killers. Who in the world would voluntarily put themselves in that situation—to be responsible for that? Not me.
Jonathan and I have a good life. We can come and go as we please without so much as a second thought. A good friend of mine, Christina, mother of three, says I’m trapped in a selfish phase that unlike everyone else, extended far beyond my early 20s. Just last year, while those SuperMoms were begging their overbearing mother-in-laws and dinky teenage neighbors to keep their kids for a few days during Spring Break, J called me and told me to pack my bags. And just like that, we were off to London, catching shows at the West End theater. I can’t let that freedom go, so, I say “so what?” to Chrissy and anyone who has a problem with me and my life.
Jonathan is my boyfriend of about eight years. I met him during a routine stop through Barnes & Noble. He was there for intellectual and scholarly nonfiction. I was there for magazines and coffee. We’re polar opposites, but maybe that what I like. No, he won’t likely pull me into a secluded corner for a quickie, but he’s the kind of man who keeps things together. He balances my crazy. With every mention of his name, my mother cringes because she can’t understand why we won’t marry. “Chile, when I had you, I knew you were special, but I didn’t know you were this special. Why must you go against everything normal?”
Normal isn’t my thing though. When I was 20, much to her dismay, I left school and used my loan refund to travel abroad. I couldn’t deal with the structure of school. It seemed to me the goal was to produce clones who would scrap over the same dollar to “make a good living.” I ultimately landed in Lima. There, I lived and loved like only a free spirit would. I met a lovely man, also an American transplant about two inches shorter than me and 11 years my senior. Jacque was a bronzed Adonis with red hair, scattered freckles and one dimple in his left cheek. It was with him that I confirmed the myth about older men and lovemaking. Every single time he touched me, I saw stars. I’ve searched for someone to show me those same constellations ever since, but it hasn’t happened.
Instead of stars, Jonathan gives me security, which I’ve realized is more important. When things begin to fizzle between us, I close my eyes and think of the small gifts he leaves under my pillow just to say “I love you.” Or the impromptu excursions out of the country as a reward to both of us for nailing a business deal at his stiff corporate job. Over the years, I learned that that’s the way he loves, and maybe those gifts compensate for his insecurities. The best way for me to stoke his ego is to accept the gifts and say thank you. I’ve become a pro, and honestly, I expect it.
What’s the need for marriage anyway? They never last, and what we’ve built together transcends any legal document or other people’s judgements about our love.
So after J kissed my inside of my wrist and told me he wanted to stay this way forever—just us, I made an executive decision for my own life. I kissed the tip of his nose, hopped out of bed and called my gynecologist.
Although it’s a necessary evil, I still abhor coming to this place. The OBGYN office is always full of pregnant women or women who already have children. Gives me the creeps. The stacks of Parent and Good Housekeeping magazines are on the coffee tables just stare at you, as if every woman who comes through these doors automatically wants to be a mother. I’ve learned to keep my earphones in and blast music or stare out of the large window no matter what the sky looks like outside of it.
A gangly black woman with braids flung the door of the waiting open and scanned the room. You’d think she’d know my face by now. “Ava McLeigh?” That was my cue. Let’s get this over with.
Inside the patient room, I grabbed a few non-mom magazines to flip through while I waited. I’d already given my urine sample, so the rest of the time should be easy breezy. Trish Katy, a tall beauty, walked in with a big grin. She’s been my doctor for so long, I don’t even bother calling her such. She’s Trish, and somewhat like a sister to me after all this time. Never judges me for my rants about how my body turns on me at given second. The pain I endure during a decade long bout with endometriosis is a close second to labor pains, she says. And for that alone, I’ll pass on carrying something inside of me for nine months.
“Ava, what’s up? We just saw each other, didn’t we?”
“Yes, we did, but this is a special visit…”
She cocked her head to the right and raised her eyebrows. “Yesss??”
“Take it all out. I’ve made my decision.”
“Take what all out?”
“You know…the stuff.”
“As in a hysterectomy, which will kill your chances of having a baby?!
I stared at her blankly. We’ve been through this a million times.
She laughed. “Honey, I don’t know if that’s something you want to go through with if you’re still referring to your reproductive organs as ‘the stuff.’”
“Is the pain back?”
“Have you talked to your other doctors?”
She heaved a deep sigh. “So, why are you back on this again? I thought we agreed that you would wait until you were 35 to make a decision on motherhood. Was the Mirena not enough?”
That contraption’s been knocked out of place more times than I can count. “No, you agreed that I would wait. And I’m 33…and a half, remember? There’s no need to prolong the inevitable.
I don’t want kids, and if I can be frank, I’d like to have hot sex freely without the shackles of birth control or its horrible side effects.”
This time, she rolled her eyes. Hard.
The cute little nurse pushed the door open and asked to see Dr. Katy. I grabbed my phone out of frustation ,hoping this wouldn’t be a struggle. If Trish wouldn’t okay the surgery, someone else would.
She opened the door and stood in the corner.
“So, let’s continue this talk about this hysterectomy,” as I laid back across the examination table like it was my plush sofa at home. “It needs to happen—sooner than later.”
She huffed, as if to mock me, “Well, Ava, as your doctor, it’s my job to give the best medical advice as possible. I’m saying no the surgery.”
She dropped my test results on the table, and then the room went black.