I was lucky to attend college in a particularly scenic region of the country and, while here for my vacation-slash-reunion, I composed this post in my head as I hiked beside a waterfall.
I’ve been back to visit a handful of times over the past twenty years, and while I don’t know if it’s wise to revisit places, I have felt the need to do so in order to understand where I am in the present. This time, while skulking around town a la Martin Blank, I have felt jaded. The beauty of this place, while relaxing and pleasant, does not hold the some wondrous, mysterious appeal it once did for me. I don’t know what it is about aging– if it’s psychological, biological, physiological– but nothing seems quite as spectacular as it did in my youth. It’s been seven or eight years since I’ve been back, furthermore, and this is the first time I have found myself visiting my former haunts after which certain doors have closed to me forever, in particular having children.
I know that at least one motivation for having kids is to relive those moments of wonder. One of my friends is bringing her teenage daughter to the reunion, and I’m sure the place will seem just as magical to her daughter as it once did to me.
I finished up The Weather Prophet and found out a little more about Lucretia Stewart– she had been married and had some failed pregnancies in her past. Near the end of the book, after turning 40, she surprisingly finds herself pregnant once again, p. 219:
I had always thought that I would have children. I had grown up believing that that was what at some point in my life would happen and one of the traumas of reaching forty was having to accept that children, even one child, was unlikely. I had been trying to come to terms with this lack, with this, as it seemed to me, failure. And now suddenly, a whole new set of adjustments were required. It was too much. I lay back in the chair and thought about the baby.
Once the initial shock had diminished, I found that I was thrilled. I felt not just physically different but suddenly emotionally, spiritually, intellectually different. I was a pregnant woman, a precious object. I had life within me and this knowledge gave a rosy tinge to my vision of the world. As I looked out at Plymouth’s ravaged face, I felt benign, tender and infinitely fragile, like the crumpled petals of a flower opening to the sun.
Unfortunately, she loses the baby, p. 241:
But nothing was ever to come of it and, for months afterwards, driving through the rain-sodden Oxfordshire countryside, I would punch Sparrow’s ‘Saltfish’ into the tape deck and, as his rich, warm voice filled the car, I would remember walking on a brilliant Antiguan January day through the beautiful graveyard of St. George’s church overlooking Fitches Creek Bay, full of hope and excitement, and begin to weep and wish that I could have my life over again.
And yet, even though she didn’t became a mother, she did experience a rebirth in her way, p. 243:
Sometimes I think that the Caribbean was the last great love affair of my adult life. During the initial trip that I made for this book, I was as happy as I have ever been anywhere in the world and at any time in my life.
And p. 245:
When I think back over my life, I divide it into pre- and post-Caribbean. The Caribbean changed me, made me the person I am today. God knows what I would be like if I had never had that experience.