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8. freedom and power

"being alone and liking it is, for a woman, an act of treachery, an infidelity far more threatening than adultery." -molly haskell

"what a commentary on our civilization. when being alone is considered suspect; when one has to apologize for it, make excuses, hide the fact that one practices it- like a secret vice!"
-anne morrow lindbergh

i'm growing to love being a single mother.  you can go wherever you want to go, stay however long you want to stay, sleep however much you like to sleep, eat whatever and however much you like to eat and meet whomever you like to meet. when i take my daughter out for a walk in her stroller, people always open the door for me, ask me if i need help carrying things and compliment me. people always look at me- most smile, our eyes meet and those who admire me look longer. why do people help me? is it because they think i'm a weak person or a nice person? i can carry my daughter in her stroller, plus a packed back-pack up the stairs to my second-floor apartment by myself, all the while weilding various keys, mail etc. no problem. if someone sees me do this they are shocked and amazed. nevermind that the best training one can go through is to have a child. first your body rids itself of all its toxins by means of morning sickness, your doctor prescribes you the best vitamins money can afford, then day by day, month by month, you put on the pounds. gradually, you work yourself up to carrying 40 lbs or so extra weight than you normally carry, up the stairs, through the house, through the mall's baby sections and maternity shops, and to the bathroom where you end up doing yet another leg-strengthening squat. by the time the baby is born you're strong enough to carry it for another three years, all the while your baby is slowly growing into a child. and people feel perplexed about this.
today i went to the library, got out a few thick novels, a movie- gideon fell asleep in her stroller. then i went to the coffee shop and went upstairs where there is a casual layout of futons and wodden crate tables and french doors that look out onto the neighbouring park. i ordered a specialty coffee and an orange juice. i lay my sleeping daughter onto the futon beside me and loosened her outside clothing. then i pulled out one of my books and commenced to read. inside i felt supreme. the slightly upbeat jazz music and the scattered individuals, who were keenly interested in me at about that time while maintaining their slightly uninterested poses, made for great atmosphere. after a few sips of coffee, gideon woke and lit up when she realized where we were. after she had a bit of juice she was released onto the floor to inspect her surroundings. i am never more delighted by her when she walks up to people  and melts them into adoring slave-puffs, who ask the obligatory "how old is she?" and then give the obligatory "she is [adorable]" compliment which forces me, willingly, to beam with pride. she runs around the room tapping tea spoons on everything. i wouldn't have it any other way. i give my internal self a swift kick for ever having thought for one moment that i should have called up someone to share the moment with. what the hell was i thinking? presently, the thought leaves as soon as it entered my mind and i go back to my contented feeling, realizing i don't have a schedule to conform to except that of the stomach. so, i pack up my miniature lady and proceed past two women sipping coffee and gossiping, all the while keeping me in their peripheral. one offers me assistance down the stairs. i politely refuse while i gather up the stroller and backpack with one arm, baby in the other. no, i'm not too proud- i'm just capable. i walk on, towards the back of the shop where, and not many people know this, there is an elevator. sly, clever girl that i am. i walk home from there, after dipping briskly into an art gallery, feeling quite cultivated.