Now I know why I am in Greece. Seed.


“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,” echoes again as I grip a hanging strap on this metal-clanging train, speeding. Into the clamor of this commute, I stare. It’s a pixelated dream-scene. Swaying in unison with speechless foreign-to-me folks, there is a language on the loudspeaker I cannot 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 stomps onward: anything for my baby.

My 40th birthday was the soul-scraping initiation, hiking down a steep rocky gorge, with fierce intention. Arriving at that rare fresh water spring in our New Mexico desert, I threw off my clothes, and dunked three. I shouted. I cried. I gave up. I devoted; ached. The idea of partnering in a perfection that would precipitate children, I held life-long as a life-line. It’s tossed; drowned now. I rise and breathe hard: with sadness a river, I know I have to go solo.

Subsequent years, slashing through the wilderness of trying-to-conceive single and over -40, piles of what felt precious got canned.

I only marched on.

I gave up friendships and family bonds that I thought were solid, gave up my money, my career path too, gave up conceptions that did not stick, gave up being understood where I thought it mattered, and I fried archaic rhymes spouting on romance.


The underground train is stuffy, I wobble with it, noting: by now all I really have is my baggage, some boxes in a shed, a slim fraction of my savings, and few friends. I am 44. I have to be close to the end.


“Meet me in Athens,” Dude said a few months back.

“I am getting on the raft from Turkey – meet me there, we will finally make your baby.” This ex-boyfriend from Egypt, called often and pressed. Wisely, I resisted, until all options exhausted.

Mere hours after I landed, he flipped. Callous and cavalier, I decisively sent this Dud-of-a-Stud away. Alone on my rented bed, I fell and sobbed.


Then stopped, hearing: Drop wild-man from the theater. Get on with the play.


I stood up.

I am not doing crazy-man again!

I stomped through the flat, I am not doing crazy-man again!

Off my balcony I see the hills carving a path to the foot of the striking Acropolis. Aloud I called. Athens answered back.


What would the Heroine do?


Awakening to pink just prior to sun-up, I rose. I would now choose Anonymous, Googled-it, and called a clinic. Stuffing my sadness ‘neath my water-bottle and sunhat in a shoulder-bag, I click my wood heals on blacktop to the metro, map-less.


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


Over those years doing everything to conceive, each time I forced myself to scan web menus of sperm donors, the packages and prices, I felt gripped in my guts, arrested in breath. Blind-sided with images of men feeling lean on funds and maybe too on love, jerking off to girlie mags for cash, each time I  X-d that tab. It’s not a fair judgment of course; it was just me. My body. I had to listen to my body even if it’s injunctions were unjust.


You see –


All my life I believed in love; I had savored it as delicious and worked for it as it needed. I knew true love would make two into something grander than their sum, and is a power and potency that makes babies and family. So, sobbing after each phone call to another ol’ buddy to ask – “Can you spot me some seeds, please?” – was as far as I could go from what I had always believed. I was defeated.


After years making awkward arrangements with a few men-friends, 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 am at an advanced maternal age that strains my mind daily.


Much like a mom taking a child by the hand to start a very hard day, I arrive at the clinic shaky, but hand in hand with myself.


The more Dr. Lina and I speak, the more with ease I breathe. Snip-its of strung apart stories spew from me in globs. The refrain stands: my long-held resistance to, and even disgust for, exactly this that I am about to do.


Lina listens. When I come up for a breath she finally interjects.


“Keren, you should know, the donors are not paid for their donation.”


Like Legos restacking in a snap, I feel the entire architecture of my Self re-build. Her words spun me, and I land on point.


“Then why would they do this?” I whisper into the space between us.


Resting one arm on the other at the edge of her side of the desk, she looks at me with brown doe eyes. She speaks in a gentle cadence. “Well, these are men who are aware of social issues…they care about the environment, they donate blood regularly…and you see, the infertility rate in Greece is actually very high. Nearly everyone knows someone struggling with these types of things, so men who are aware, they want to contribute.”


Slim tears drop from my eyes in a sudden release.


I look out the 5th story window and rest my eyes on a puzzle-piece of sky between high buildings. The blue is vivid and into it my mind sails to sea. Scaffolding of priorly bolted beliefs, wounds, and struggles, all dismantled in instants.


“Then I can do this,” I whisper.


I feel love grander than ever with any lover prior.

Huge, towering, wide as sky and vastly un-grasping – Love.

Free as light beams and kind as subtle tides, love just struck.


“Then, yes, I can do this. It is love…” I pause to gather words for what I am only coming to understand. “It is Love…not personal, but … humanitarian.”


Love lands on me, nothing like a romance. So real, it’s stunning.


“Ok, I can do this.”


“I will get the papers”, she smiles and slides out.


My mind’s eye rises above this grand city. The whole of it lights up in a white wash, resounds in a symphonic song. Though I am a stranger, I feel like I fit.


The appropriate papers sit in a pile before me: this to sign, that to read over, a few paragraphs to understand…and then, the “menu”. I am to choose various features and characteristics I’d like of an anonymous donor.



I put my open hand flat on that paper and push it back toward Lina.


“If this is going to be anonymous, then I want it to be fully that.”


I pause, hoping she follows me.


“You have met all these men right?”


“Yes, I chose them each myself.”


“Then please, you choose. You’ve met me now, and you’ve met all of them. Please, you choose.”


“Yes, OK.” Our eyes meet in a silent moment that weighs more than the dramas of the last days.


Like a transparency slides over this scene, I see Lina part of a circle of women, a few whom I recognize, some abstract or anonymous, all standing for me in quiet presence, to bring forth my baby.


I reach across the desk and touch my hand to hers, just for a sec.


“Thank you,” I said, and soon left.


*          *          *          *          *          *


I watch sky colors morphing from my rented bedroom’s balcony at sunset. Day one is done. The seemingly unending city I am gazing into now, minimizes me. That feels right, me being small. I know no one who dwells in one of these houses or works in one of those shops. I am solo, unto myself, maybe lost, yet maybe – on the final trail…


Windows of wonderings flicker like shutters through my unlatched mind. They layer on exhausted thoughts.


“I can do this” is still cycling soft echos inside me, though fading with this day’s light.

Let’s go in, wash up, unpack that sadness I had stuffed to visit with it – now- just enough. And, sleep. God wake with me, please.