At the 125th Street subway station I step off the A train and cross the platform for a B/C. I am en route to another volunteer meeting, but today I feel light-headed from stirring myself into a soup of crazy, and then serving it with insomnia on the side.
For the past three days I’ve been waking up between 2:45 and 3:52 a.m. racked with worry, stressing about future events and things that I have no control over; will my landlord jack my rent up when I renew in 6 months and why do blueberries cost $4. Thankfully I have Jack, Chrissy and Janet’s antics to entertain me. And because my brother and I were NOT allowed to watch Three’s Company (as if a show depicting a man living with two women was the worst thing in the world) I am seeing most episodes for the first time. However the commercials are current and boring, leaving me with plenty of time to wonder what the hell I am doing in New York. When I moved here 18 months ago, I really believed I’d be married and in Westchester by now. Yet while I continue to date I wonder, can I do married with kids?
I have always adored kids, but I question my ability to raise one because a child is the ultimate commitment and sacrifice. This is not an apartment you move from when a better one comes along. You can’t dump a child like a lover without the State of New York getting involved. And when that child hurts or is sick you are utterly helpless, ready to give your health up for theirs. As my uterus grows dusty from lack of use I really don’t know if I am selfless enough to want kids. I am combative so in the event I had kids I would be hopped on puppie (a Punjabi yuppie) PTA mom rage demanding that Huck Finn be put back on the library shelves.
But a life sans les bebes complicates desi dating because most desi mother-in-laws expect their daughter-in-law(s) to produce two grandkids. This is in addition to living with their son, which also scares me shitless. I have been single so long, coupled with exacting standards; I wonder if toilet seats and toothpaste tubes will incite World War III, Desi Girl style.
The C train comes and I take a seat across from the poster of the NYC map. “Never sit in front of the subway map,” Jack warned when I first moved here. “Why?” I asked. “Men pretend to look at the map so they can shove their cocks in your face.”
I glance at a couple sitting on the other side of the train. They’re holding hands and exchanging glances, which makes remaining upbeat and feeling fortunate for what I have very difficult. Despite the repeated burials, my self-doubt always seems to surface when I least expect it. I am not a gambling woman; Atlantic City and Vegas have no appeal to me. I am a cautious, meticulous person for whom packing and moving to America's hardest City to meet a man was brazen and bold. And seemed right at the time, but was it a mistake?
Should I have married my first boyfriend Tom? So what if his family wished I was Christian. He didn’t care. Too bad I did, too. As I dated Tom I could hear the aunties in the grapevine. “Did you hear? Desi Girl did shaadi with a gora (white). Her parents are so embarrassed/humiliated/despondent/insert adjective here.” Clearly the aunties were either in denial or hadn’t notice that they followed their husbands to Minnesota, heavy on the lakes, light on the desis. But I contributed to the madness when I let Tom go even though I knew he would have treated me so well. It mattered more what the sari-clad temple-going cows thought of my parents’ reputation and me, rather than what I thought.
Perhaps I should have forgiven my college ex who genuinely loved me. But at 23, recently graduated, ready to face the world, it is easy to judge someone for cheating on you even if they had uncontrollable issues. Unfortunately I was too concerned with becoming that pathetic woman who stands by her man. Any why didn't I go into law? That is what I ALWAYS wanted to do (other than write).
I don't really believe in regret, but every chance I have, late at night, on the subway, when I eat dinner alone, I cannot not stop obsessing about roads and directions I could have taken, should have taken, wondering which turn could have avoided ending up here, on the corner of Disillusioned and Disappointed.