Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fort Bragg, CA--Sleepy, Dreamy, Subterranean

Georgia’s mama has arrived. Last night we had dinner with her sister Sarah, Sarah’s husband and two children at Captain Flint’s. The two children are the best-behaved children I think I have ever encountered. Flint’s is located on an estuary or stream flowing into the ocean. After fish and chips and excessive amounts of coleslaw, we walked out to beach where Georgia, on a dare, ran for a few feet and we all giggled.

In the evening G and I walk out over the trestle and onto the bluffs along the rugged California coast. The Pacific has a magical aura—incomprehensible and vast—my eyes can’t define its depths, its proximity or strength. I know that locals don’t swim here and that the area usually loses around 5 tourists a year to the sea. It’s rough, cold and yet luscious white where waves crest and roll out long before reaching shore. Spring here and the wildflowers along the bluffs bloom—purple, pink, blue, yellow where we follow windy paths and G tells me that here her mother walked when she was waiting for Georgia, and squatting down to pee, her water broke. I tell G and her mama about the births of my various (five) siblings: once I made a cake with gumdrops, once Hannah and I ran across the yards to climb the stairwell of a tall apartment building so we might spot the hospital where Mom had just given birth to Bess.

We eat cake one day, chocolate the next, followed by two glorious days of apple pie from the local bakery, which her sister bought us. We go out walking and stop at Maurine’s bookstore, a small used bookstore from which G and Maurine once bought their books as young middle school girls. G runs a funky sort of gift shop and Maurine—her childhood friend—just bought the town bookstore. Maurine’s daughter, Caroline, is four months old and was born in November on my birthday. She bounces the baby in her lap or tucks her under her arm, propped up on her hip. We talk about whether or not to get an epidural, unembarrassed to be discussing birthing options in front of customers.

Mama Sally and I sit in G’s big bed watching her organize her bookshelves. Mama whispers, “She’s nesting,” G rolls her eyes at us. Everyone seems to be pressuring her to have the baby, though today is her actual due date. “She’s almost ready,” Mama Sally says to me, “she’s ripe.”

At Maurine’s Bookstore I bought “My Antonia.” G says probably she and Maurine bought their first copies of the book at that very bookstore. I sit in the bay window of the apartment reading Willa Cather for the first time. I think of how I love landscapes, how I need them and am overwhelmed by them. I dream of the sea at night and then of my sister, Hannah. I dream of my husband and the copse of trees we have passed everyday on the bluffs—trees that seem permanently windblown: craggy cedars.
We say again and again how surreal it all is—this baby in her belly. I try to imagine my own belly of baby, but I cannot. All of our days feel dreamy, sleepy, subterranean. People’s conversations at Headlands Coffee Shop become absurd to me. Nothing else really enters my mind with much conviction but the knowledge that we are waiting for a new human to join us.

                                                     Bluffs at Fort Bragg, CA

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