This is my entry this week for therealljidol. I invite you to read and vote for the many fine entries. This week (which is actually two weeks long), we're writing on five topics! This first one is on the topic "Appropriation."
I can understand why some women don't want to rent their bodies out to a stranger, no matter how cute he or she may be. Pregnancy turns you into a human apartment building, a landlord for a tenant you've never met who pays no rent but kicks the walls on a regular basis, keeps you up at night, makes you sick to your stomach, and redecorates the entire building without even a by-your-leave.
Each tiny tenant has his or her own quirks. Some boogie in response to music and laughter. Others meditate in a Zen state until their worried landlords call a doctor to check on them. Some detest spicy foods -- or peanut butter, or chicken -- and pass their preferences on until their landlords share them. Some inspire cravings for sweets or protein or, if you're lucky, vegetables.
As they grow larger, they'll use your lungs as an air mattress, and your bladder will become a handy punching bag. They'll stretch out, back to front or side to side -- or upside-down -- till all you can do is waddle under their weight.
Eventually, you begin to communicate. Rhythmic thumps on the front wall mean, "I'm happy" or "That tastes yummy" or "I like Stereolab." Indigestion means "Please don't eat that again." You find yourself rubbing your belly, trying to catch a protrudng foot or guess the bulging body part.
At some point, though, you stare in the mirror at the bloated, veiny, distorted version of yourself that has evolved and wonder when you will get your body back. Eventually, it becomes too much. You want to evict the tenant. You tell people it's because you want to hold him or her in your arms. Really, it's because you long to be yourself again. You're tired of sharing space.
But here's the thing: when he leaves, he also leaves his mark. Your building has changed. The walls are still distended, still bloated for weeks or months. Many women switch from being landlords to being caterers or food service workers, answering every hunger wail with a homemade menu, specifically tailored to the little consumers. While some women claim this helps them to revamp their body-houses more quickly, others find it delays the renovations.
And there are the other issues, too. This infant tenant leaves behind leaky pipes, discolored marbling on the external walls, and sometimes embarrassing posterior drafts. Gone are the days when you can sneeze or cough without risking an incident. You long for the past when everything was intact and marvel that, when it was, you did not appreciate it more.
One day, snuggling close to this young human you miraculously grew from just a few cells, the hope you'd once had of returning to your old self seems quaint, naive. The building, your body, is no longer yours alone. Your arms offer comfort to your former tenant, your voice a soothing balm. Even your curtain of hair serves a new purpose: he wraps his fingers in it like a mane as you carry him across obstacles. Your body formed his body, and your life is no longer yours alone.
You smile wryly, thinking how much you've always loved historic buildings; how beautiful you've always found their imperfect, weathered walls. This one is no different.
Many thanks to my very helpful beta reader, roina_arwen, who can take credit for the "air mattress" simile, among other terrific suggestions.