Excerpt from Novel #2: The Memoir

“I have to do this,” I repeat to myself as I merge into a stream of commuters scrambling down steep steps. “I have to do this,” pierces again as I reach for the hanging strap on this metal-clanging train, speeding. I stare into the clamor of this commute feeling I am in a pixelated dream, blurred. The picture is saturated with speechless foreign-to-me folks and a language on the loudspeaker I can not at all understand.

“I have to do this”, holds my focus and dons me a mythical hoping-to-be-hero cape, which provides some slim sense of embrace in my vast vulnerability. Like the 4-years prior, the mission today stomps onward: anything for my baby.

At 40 I had vowed to do anything for my child, this soul that still drums on my bones daily.

Swaying in unison with strangers on the train, jetlagged and parched, I am just aching; This is where a terribly twisted 4-year path has dropped me. Alone, in a foreign city. This known-donor (friend) who invited me here, had just within hours provoked me to absolutely ditch him. This time I acted differently with the subsequent cascade of despair. I stuffed it into my bag with my sunhat and snack this first morning in Athens, so it would not drum me down.

If needed, I’d agreed with myself to take it on again when this day ends, in this rented bed. Then, I could sob. But, right now, I am walking onward.

She greets me at the door wearing the classic white lab coat, and engages its pockets occasionally in the ways professionals do. Her calm face counters my nervous vibe. Her kindness shines. She guides me into her office and sits on the other side of the large wood desk. Step by step she explains the legalities and logistics of sperm donation here in Athens

*        *        *

All my life I believed in love; I had savored it as delicious and worked for it as it needed. I knew love to be the essential stuff that makes babies and family. So, sobbing after each phone call to another old buddy, asking – “Can you spot me some seeds, please?” – was as far as I could go from what I had always believed.

After years making awkward arrangements with a small series of men friends that I could sincerely ask for this peculiar favor, I indeed had successful conceptions that wrenched me when they ended, friendships that ended when the arrangement made too many waves, and a couple “good enough” studs who agreed to arrangements, but pulled out last minute.

After chapters full of dramas and character drop-outs, I was now at an advanced maternal age that strained my mind daily. I had wanted to do it my way. Now I resigned to the only option left.

I was walking myself, still map-less, in this city much like a mom taking a child by the hand for the start of a hard day. I arrived at the clinic shaky, but hand in hand with myself.