“Invisible to the naked eye,” I add.
“But it’s there.”
I rub her back some more as she digests all of this.
“You know who I thought of yesterday? When you were talking about that feeling? The only one I think I might have felt that with?”
“From high school?”
She nods. “Yeah,” she says. “He ended up marrying that girl Jessica Campos. But I—I don’t know, until then, I always figured we would have something.”
“They got divorced,” I tell her. “A few years ago, I think. I saw it on Facebook.”
“Well, there you go,” she says. “Just that little piece of information gives me hope that there’s somebody out there who makes me feel the way Henry makes you feel.”
I smile at her. “I can promise you, there is someone better out there. I’d write it in stone.”
“You have to find Henry,” she says. “Don’t you think? How do we do it? How are you going to find Henry?”
I tell her about the letter and then I shrug. “I might not find him,” I say. “And that’s OK. If you’d told me a month ago that I was going to get hit by a car and Mark was going to leave you, you’d never have been able to convince me that things would be OK. But I got hit by a car, and Mark left you, and . . . we’re still standing. Well, you can stand. I’m sitting. But we’re still alive. Right? We’re still OK.”
“I mean, things are pretty crappy, Hannah,” she says.
“But they are OK, aren’t they? Aren’t we OK? Don’t we both still have hope for the future?”
“Yeah.” She nods somberly. “We do.”
“So I’m not going to go around worrying too much,” I tell her. “I’m just going to do my best and live under the assumption that if there are things in this life that we are supposed to do, if there are people in this world we are supposed to love, we’ll find them. In time. The future is so incredibly unpredictable that trying to plan for it is like studying for a test you’ll never take. I’m OK in this moment. To be with you. Here. In Los Angeles. If we’re both quiet, we can hear birds chirping outside. If we take a moment, we can smell the onions from the Mexican place on the corner. This moment, we’re OK. So I’m just going to focus on what I want and need right now and trust that the future will take care of itself.”
“So what is it, then?” Gabby asks.
“What is what?”
“What is it you want out of life right now?”
I look at her and smile. “A cinnamon roll.”
THREE WEEKS LATER
I am now firmly in my second trimester. I’ve gained enough weight that I look big but not enough that it’s clear I’m pregnant. I’m just big enough to look like I have a beer belly. I’m sure I’ll be complaining when I’m the size of a house, but I’m inclined to think this part is worse, at least for my ego. Some days, I feel good. Other days, I have a backache and eat three sandwiches for lunch. I’m convinced that I have a double chin. Gabby says I don’t, but I do. I can see it when I look in the mirror. There’s my chin and then a second chin right there below the first one.
Gabby comes to a lot of my doctor’s appointments and birthing classes. Not all of them but most of them. She has also been reading the books with me and talking things through. Will I have a natural birth? Will I use cloth diapers? (My instinct tells me no and no.) It’s nice to have someone in my corner. It makes me more confident that I can do this.
And I am finally finding my confidence. Sure, this is all very scary, and sometimes I want to crawl under the blankets and never come out. But I’m a woman who has been desperately looking for purpose and family, and I found both. Never has it been more clear to me that I have family around me in unconventional places, that I have always had more purpose than I have ever known.
I no longer feel a rush to leave this city and head for greener pastures, because there are no greener pastures and there is no better city. I am grounded here. I have a support system here. I have someone who needs me to put down roots and pick a place.
My parents were disappointed to learn that I wasn’t going to join them in London, but the moment they resigned themselves to my decision, they suggested that the two of them and Sarah come out to L.A. when the baby is born. They are going to come and visit me. Us.
I just started working at Carl’s office, and it has been both hugely stabilizing and really eye-opening. I see mothers and fathers every day who are in our office because they have a sick kid or a new baby or they are worried about one thing or another. You see how deeply these parents love their children, how much they would do for them, how far they are willing to go to make them happy, to keep them healthy. It’s really made me think about what’s important to me, what I’d be willing to lose everything for, not just as a friend or as a parent but also as a person.
I’m enjoying it so much that I’m thinking about working in a pediatrician’s office long-term. Obviously, this is all very new, but I can’t remember the last time a job made me this excited. I like working with kids and parents. I like helping people through things that might be scary or new or nerve-racking.
So this morning, while Gabby is taking Charlemagne to the vet, I have found myself Googling nursing schools. I mean, it seems completely absurd to have a job, go to nursing school, and have a child, but I’m not going to let that stop me. I’m looking into it. I’ll see if there is any way I can make it work. That’s what you do when you want something. You don’t look for reasons why it won’t work. You look for reasons why it will. So I’m searching, I’m digging, for ways to make it happen.
I’m looking into the local community college when my phone rings.
I hesitate for a moment. I hesitate for so long that by the time I decide to answer, I’ve missed the call.
I stare at the phone, stunned, until I hear his voice.
“I know you’re home,” he says, teasing me. “I can see your car on the street.”
I whip my head toward the entry, and I can see his forehead and hair through the glass at the top of the door.
“I didn’t get to the phone in time,” I tell him as I stand up and walk to the door.
There is a part of me that doesn’t want to open it. I’ve been thinking lately that maybe I am meant to raise this baby on my own, to be on my own, until my kid is in college and I’m pushing fifty. Sometimes, when I’m lying awake at night, I imagine a middle-aged Ethan knocking on my door, years in the future. He says he loves me and can’t live without me anymore. And I tell him I feel the same way. And we spend the second half of our lives together. I have told myself on more than one occasion that the timing will work out one day. I’ve told myself this so many times that I’ve started to believe it.
And now, knowing he’s on the other side of the door, it feels wrong. This wasn’t a part of my new plan.
“Will you open the door?” he asks. “Or do you hate me that much?”
“I don’t hate you,” I say. “I don’t hate you at all.” My hand is on the knob, but my wrist doesn’t turn.
“But you’re not going to open the door?”
It’s polite to open the door. It’s what you do. “No,” I say, and then I realize the real reason I don’t want to open it, and I figure the best thing to do is to tell him. “I’m not ready to see you,” I say. “To look at you.”
He’s quiet for a moment. Quiet so long that I think he might have left. And then he speaks. “How about just talking to me? Is that OK? Talking?”
“Yeah,” I say. “That’s OK.”
“Well, then, get comfortable,” he says. “This may take a minute.” I see his hair disappear from view, and I realize he’s sitting down on the front stoop.
“OK,” I say. “I’m listening.”
He’s quiet again. But this time, I know he hasn’t left. “I broke up with you,” he says.
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