Princess: Working on a dream
So this morning I pulled up the old calendar and sorted through my email to find the date I’d sent my manuscript to the big agent lady in New York.
The feeling was eerily familiar: finding a date, counting the weeks and making calculations for when to expect an answer of “yes” or “no.”
Anyone who has been through fertility treatment knows what I’m talking about. You become a day-counter. Day cycle begins, ovulation date, fertility-treatment date, and then the dreadful “two-week wait” before you can take a definitive pregnancy test. Except I never took the test. I would ride the wave of hope as long as I could, counting each day on my calendar and catching my breath every time I thought I felt something that could be construed as a pregnancy symptom, even though the symptoms of pregnancy and PMS are virtually the same (whoever came up with that whole program sucks).
All the while, images of your hopeful future are projected across the insides of your eyelids, even when you’re awake. Fantasies. They never end. You become so preoccupied that you can drive from A to B without ever really knowing where you are. The days tick slowly by, and you count them again, just to be sure. As they get into the high 30s, your hope begins to crest. You think, “There’s no way my cycle could be this long.” Those fantasies sharpen to the point where it’s impossible to differentiate them from reality. Why take a test when you already “just know”? I mean, isn’t that what female intuition is all about? You can even hear yourself telling your friends, “I just knew. I didn’t even have to take a test.”
So you ride that wave all the way into shore, and then, just like I did when I was learning to surf at San Onofre State Beach in Califarnia, you ride right on to the rocks, riddling your fancy new longboard with dings that will cost more to fix than you paid for the board in the first place.
Turns out your instincts were wrong. Not only that, but your hope was so powerful, it deceived your body, at least for the two weeks your period was late. And when the outcome isn’t what you hoped for, the projection for your future suddenly changes. Like those black thunderclouds that invade the sky when you’re weren’t looking, hail and wind and heavy rain explode from their loins. All of a sudden, your sunny afternoon hike turns into a test in how to manage your discomfort. Then at some point, misery inevitably sets in.
So we all know how that turned out. That’s what inspired me to finally finish this stupid novel I’ve been working on (or not working on, whatever the case may be) for the past 10 years. I figured I could focus on that, dive into my work and change the outcome of my future.
And I did, and it worked for a while. I loved being immersed in my writing. I loved staying up until 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning and only sleeping for a couple of hours before getting up and writing some more. I loved how the world became the words I typed on my computer screen, a world I created. I loved living on Diet Coke and pretzels, two of my favorite things in the world that I now know are no better for you than eating cardboard doused in toxic chemicals. But that was my little treat, my vice for getting me through those late nights.
And yeah, I was back on that wave called hope, loving the ride just as much as I did the first 10 times. Now only instead of baby names and nursery colors and various combinations of my and Ryan’s DNA, it was book tours and movie options and a real payday and what it would feel like to have enough money to pay off my debts (the loan for those failed IVF treatments notwithstanding).
And the weird part of it is, this is the same time last year we started our first round of IVF. And the year before that, it was the same time I suffered a miscarriage. So June has never been very kind to me. While most people love nothing more than the onset of summer, there is a certain dread I associate with it. The temperatures climbing higher, the spring rain giving way to moisture-sucking heat and dusty dryness that clumps inside your nostrils and scratches the back of your throat, the death of a dream.
I sent my manuscript on May 6. So I counted: seven, 14, 21, 22. It’s been about three weeks. That’s about right.
Still, the feeling is eerily familiar. The future is literally out of my hands. I’ve done everything I can do, at least for the time being. Now all I can do is wait.
Should the manuscript get rejected, it’s not the end. It’s only the beginning. It just means having to go through this same process again and again until something happens or doesn’t. This dream of mine either comes to life or not. That being such a familiar theme that didn’t work out so well, you can understand my skepticism. And just like the odds of getting pregnant in your 40s, the odds of selling a novel are probably about the same.
So there you have it.
Only this time, rather than live in a dreamworld, I can prepare myself for reality. Maybe then it won’t hit me so hard. Maybe then I can learn to tuck and roll, minimize the damage and reduce the severity of injury.
But hope is a powerful thing. So there is still that part of me going. Maybe this time, just this once, it will be worth the wait.
The Princess is realizing she should probably train her pug. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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