I got a text message from Matthew on Friday afternoon that read:
Tomorrow can we go for a nice walk downtown? Like we used to.
Living in Charleston, as I’m sure it is anywhere, my wonderment and love of this city—my relationship with it—comes and goes. Perhaps, living by the sea, it’s a tidal thing.
Matthew and I are both admittedly mountain-people, and long for sharper seasons and crisper air (especially in July). That doesn’t mean that we don’t drink deep of this lovely town that’s been our home for all of our (three) married years. We’ve been spoiled with our bike rides (to work, to eat, to nowhere and everywhere) and our long, rambling walks. Each one, we discover something new.
We love Charleston all over again. Our story of unfolding and deepening love can be told over cracked slate sidewalks and under wavering live oak branches.
Today was one of those walks, and I thought I’d take you all along…
We start by riding our bikes to the bank (maybe not the most thrilling way to begin a Saturday ramble, but we had checks to deposit and money IS a thrilling thing).
(Matthew rides his old 70s bike that was his mom’s!)
Then we grab a quick drink at Starbucks…because we still get them for free.
Passion tea lemonade…so good.
For the rest of these, I admit I felt like a tourist walking around snapping photos of things I pass by each day. And on a warm day like today, the tourists were thick.
Still…there was so much to take in, and so much I wanted to share:
(St. Philips Church)
(a favorite doorway on Queen Street)
(the theater where Stephen Colbert supposedly got his start)
Beside the Footlight Players is a narrow alley where people used to duel. Back in Revolutionary times (and later), the buildings surrounding this alley were all warehouses, and not the type of places you’d want to be at any time of day. You can still see bullet marks in the tattered brick walls surrounding this place.
Then we walked over to Waterfront Park to see the…water. Though we usually stay away from this area of town (LOTS of tourists and we like watching the sun set from a smaller, quieter park on the other side of the peninsula). The biggest draw at Waterfront Park? A giant fountain that’s overrun (in the best, happiest of ways) with kids in the summertime.
(Ravenel Bridge from the park)
(Matthew points out where we live. I always pretend to read the Braille on this plaque…why?)
(and then there’s this couple on their ukuleles…so great)
(Rainbow Row—named for their Art Deco paint colors…famous for being the oldest complete block of pre-Revolutionary houses in the country. Subject of countless cheesy paintings and postcards…and now my blog)
(on my coffee break/walk during school, I always peek in this garden…all the hidden gardens are my one of my favorite things about this city. Each is like a jewelry box, tucked away only to be enjoyed by a few)
(even a door knocker invites you to take another look)
I teach high school English at a private school in Charleston, SC.
It’s a private school, probably not like you’re thinking with crested blazers and sweaters tied around shoulders.
But the other stuff you’re thinking about like kids driving cars I’ll never be able to afford, parents vacationing in Greece, teaching famous comic actor’s children….yeah, that’s all real.
Teaching is what I’m supposed to do with my life. I love nothing more than to get a room full of 16 year olds excited about reading Thoreau or Shakespeare or Annie Dillard. I especially love helping a student discover writing: that click of knowledge when their ideas hit paper, make sense…and more that that—sound good. That’s when I’m my most proud. And my students are hilarious, insightful, full of themselves, and keep me on my toes. Each day is new, each hour there is something surprising. If it wasn’t for grading 40 essays at a time, I would never ever leave.
But then I saw a plus-sign on a pregnancy test and knew that I’d be taking a break from whiteboards and classic literature and journal prompts. And faculty meetings! And rude parents! And hormonal rage!
Hey, wait…I think the hormonal rage might still be hanging around….
I told the headmaster and high school principal today that I’m going to have a baby. It was a pretty entertaining scene. It is important to note that my headmaster can be a bit goofy. There are sometimes other words, but he’s a nice man and always supports me.
me: so I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, but I already have the classes I’m missing covered.
mr. headmaster: do you need a sub?
me: no…I have it covered.
mr. headmaster: (showing me a number on his cell phone) call this girl. She’s begging to sub.
me: Well, the thing is, I have another appointment next week, but will only miss the last half hour of school
mrs. principal: okay, that’s fine.
me: well, I wanted to tell you all because there will probably be more appointments in the future…(hoping they’ll start to get the hint here)
mr. headmaster: that’s fine that’s fine you do what you have to do.
mrs. principal: I think she’s trying to tell us something.
me: well, yes.
mr. headmaster: ….
me: you’re paying two for the price of one right now.
mrs. principal: that’s so wonderful! When?
mr. headmaster: (looking from one of us to the other) what’s going on? I’m confused
me: there’s going to be another Ables soon.
mr. headmaster: when?
mr. h: that’s good timing (gives me a HIGH FIVE. At this time he thinks that I’ve planned to have my baby over the summer so that I could get right back to teaching)!
Once my headmaster realized that giving birth one week and then going back to teaching the week after might not happen, he wanted to know who I had lined up for childcare.
Tonight you heard Billy Collins read poetry. I guess you can’t technically hear yet, but I listened for both of us, and I’m sure you felt my laughter—he’s a funny one, that Mr. Collins.
So. Not yet three months created and you’ve been fed too many sweets (why do you want plain doughnuts and gummi Lifesavers? I still try to feed you milk and vegetables too) and one really golden night of words: playful, awe-filled words that make me (which, by default means you, too) spill over with plans of all the beauty I’ll show you.
Hello, secret readers (all one of you…how did you even find this blog, Miss Rita?)!
So I’m getting closer to the end of my first trimester. It’s a strange thing that a word like “trimester” has entered my life, but there it is. I had another ultrasound last week, which was great because I’d been telling Matthew for awhile that I didn’t think I was really pregnant. Now, most people think that sounds terrible, but I just mean that I have had no symptoms. I’m not gonna lie: I am ready to have a big ol’ belly.
Matthew: how do you explain all of your mood swings then?
Me: how is that any different than normal?
I told the doctor this as she squirted ultrasound goo on my stomach and rolled the wand (in many ways, not the right word) over my skin. And there, on the screen, was a really blurry black and white baby. She clicked a few buttons with authority and said, “Start believing it. There’s your baby and…see? It just moved.” She then pointed to a dark blur that was squeezing in and out and told me it was the heart.
Dear Tiny Bables,
You have a heart that beats so now I believe in you.
(I can’t type “Mom” or “Mama” or even “Marmie” yet.)
(Sidenote: get the baby to call me Marmie)
(sidenote to sidenote: name the baby Jo March)
We’ve told a few of our closest friends now, which makes it seem real—well, it honestly still makes me feel like I’m telling a massive lie—and it’s been great to celebrate and talk about all of the things swimming around in our heads.
My favorite way to tell people is real casual-like:
Costa: What did you do today?
Me: Didn’t go to school. Well, we had school…I just didn’t go.
Costa: Did you have some other stuff to do?
Me: Yeah, I got an ultrasound.
Husband: Her second.
Costa and Wife: …? !!
Sarah: So if you move to Greenville, maybe we will too.
So this posting here seems silly, because nobody knows we’re having a baby yet. But we are! I mean, I am. Having a baby. In August. Mister has to put up with a lot, but I’ll be the one. Having it. The baby.
A squirming, gooey, crying baby out of my own body. What??!
And by “nobody” knowing I mean that my immediate family, and Matthew’s immediate family (including aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends of the family, etc…they’re excited). But none of our friends know, and none of my work people know.
I always thought it was weird when a teacher got pregnant, like how weird it was to see them at a restaurant or at a grocery store: you’d be thinking they EATfood?? Then one of them gets all pregnant and you can’t help but think: they DO IT with someone, too?? GROSS.
Bonus: I teach a bunch of 8th and 11th grade boys.
But that announcement won’t happen until the end of the month, when people will know about this blog, and know our news (at least MORE people will know).
For now, we’re excited, and I don’t really believe it’s happening. We had so much fun telling our families on Christmas—they were so surprised!—but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d told everyone this elaborate lie to get attention. I kept thinking “okay, how the heck are we gonna get out of this one?” As if Mister and I concoct lies all of the time. I don’t feel sick, I don’t want to eat pickles (though the Mister keeps hoping), I don’t have “a bump,” etc.