A Year in St. Louis: Highlights
After five months of living in New Delhi, St. Louis was a spacious and fragrant paradise, a virtual Garden of Eden.
It was a long, drawn-out spring. We watched the flowers grow, the parks turn green, and the neighborhoods fill with walkers and joggers with their strollers and their dogs. We watched the outdoor seating at cafes fill up, and the pond at Carondelet Park was full of ducks and just the right amount of moss.
We planned to spend the spring in St. Louis and return to India in the summer, and I was preparing myself psychologically for 120 degree weather. Then the monsoons would come, and I would be cozy inside with Nescafe. I would wear colorful rubber boots. We’d use an electric mosquito killer that looks like a tennis racket.
Unfortunately, long story short, things didn’t work out for us to return to India at that time, even though we put in a decent amount of time listening to Kenny G while on hold with the Indian Consulate.
There were beautiful summer nights — visits to Ted Drewes and the local breweries. We would share a beer or two and drink them slowly and talk about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
Since we were staying for a while at least, I found three part-time jobs on Craigslist.
Sometime in October I was staring at my computer — maybe taking a Facebook quiz or perusing Web MD to determine whether or not I am suffering from early onset dementia — when I felt a very distinct, undeniable, insistent wave of nausea, and with it, the certainty: I’m pregnant. So I bought a pregnancy test from the Dollar Tree (just as effective as the fancy ones from Walgreens) and, sure enough. Two pink lines.
I spent the fall feeling sick, taking furtive naps in strange places, crying over food, and trying not to have emotional outbursts in front of my new colleagues.
The trees were bare. We had our car stolen and recovered. There were shootings and car-jackings. My stomach was getting big. I began to feel more vulnerable that I’d ever felt, protective of and fearful for the little one growing inside me, and I realized, I will continue to feel this vulnerability the rest of my life, now that I am a mother. And I began to understand on a visceral level why people drift outwards to the suburbs and the gated communities.
Flowering trees. Sidewalks filling with strollers and dogs. Ponds filling with ducks and moss. Two shootings in the park. By now, the people who had politely ignored my burgeoning midsection — possibly uncertain whether it was a baby or just a big lunch, as one person put it — could no longer ignore it.
I grew larger and larger and more and more miserable. My feet and back were killing me. I couldn’t sleep at night. I outgrew my maternity clothes. I wondered if I would ever be normal-sized again.
She came on the first day of summer. The morning after a strawberry moon. She was 9 lbs, 3 oz, 20.5 inches long. We named her Audra Leora Brecken Rains.
She likes it outside in the heat and humidity. She likes to sit on the back porch with her daddy. She throws her head back with her eyes closed, her face to the sky. She likes to sit on the front porch with her mommy. I rock her in the rocking chair, and she falls asleep on my lap. She likes to ride in the stroller at dusk over the jagged sidewalks, looking up at the trees.
This time, without much of the Kenny G soundtrack, we got three Indian visas. (Getting passport-sized photos of the baby was a bit of an ordeal.)
And two days before the first day of Autumn 2016, we will be on our way back to Delhi.