As the summer ends and hurricane season begins, it feels as if the cosmos respond to the tumultuous ocean; growing in power from far out, slowly spinning towards shore to wreak havoc upon the coastline and beyond.
The problems and worries come in a vast deluge, soaking troubles down to the bone and flooding the landscape.
Our oven isn’t heating, and our dishwasher isn’t washing. When I took the car in for the annual state inspection, we were notified that it would be about a thousand dollars for the repairs needed to pass inspection. The student loan company expects me to pay just over a thousand dollars a month, beginning the same month we will welcome our daughter. The garden never took due to our inattention, and the knotweed and goldenrod lining our driveway taunts us, slapping our car windows as we drive in or out, knowing we don’t have the time or energy to find the machete to drive them back. Our local dump seems to celebrate more holiday weekends than even the bank, so the trash fills up the can until we break down and buy a second. The tub leaks, the laundry accumulates, the grass grows in the hot sun between cooling nights; the Congo and the Amazon burn, and Hurricane Dorian drowns island countries and coastal terrains.
I have hit the nesting phase of pregnancy, earlier than last time, and more easily identified and named as my constant companion, anxiety.
I worry incessantly about the chores that need to be done and preparations to be made. With trepidation in my bones, I feel the fall approaching in the wind and watch the leaves lose the luster of their green, soon to be taken over by wild splashes of vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows; even the brown leaves that fall are saturated with color so as to draw the eye. Autumn in Vermont is as stunning as that first burst of spring, only with more tourists. Even through my hand-wringing, I think that our maternity photos, a luxury gifted to us by a dear friend, will be gorgeous.
Most of the people I have lost in my family have died in the fall.
My father, my wife’s father, my uncle and grandmother; with no reprieve, these are followed by the bitter cold that accompanies the holiday season, and then followed by the anniversary of my mother’s death and my grandmother-in-law, the sweet matriarch of anxiety. Each year I worry about depression setting in, staring at the inescapable display of nature’s life cycles. This time, I think about my son, born sleeping in the height of summer; conceived in November 2017, he never knew the fall. I think about my daughter, coming to life and due November 2019, moving and wriggling, getting ready for the dawn of her life as animals line their dens and nests in preparation for the cold and dark nights ahead.
I feel that the porcupines and the foxes are all far more ready than I will ever be; I don’t remember feeling this unsettled carrying Oscar, maybe because we didn’t know him during this transitive season of preparation. The animals follow their instincts, packing away food and building up their fat stores. Even the high-strung squirrels, who will only find about quarter of their caches, seem less anxious than I do. Oscar was born two days before my baby shower; I’m not even sure what we were given. My cousins packed up all the baby gear so that we wouldn’t have to come home to the empty cradle and creases in clothing that would never hold our son. The nursery is taped off and roughly twenty percent primed, sweet buttercup yellow a stark contrast against the terracotta walls inherited with the house. Hawthorne had been painting when I called her on Oscar’s last day.
Nothing feels ready; little feels right.
I feel both immobilized by anxiety and untethered. My wife, friends, and family are my anchor to earth, reminding me that we are lucky and more ready than I can believe; we have a place for the baby to sleep, blankets to keep her warm, diapers to keep her clean, and our love to nurture her already. Our pantry is stocked, and our nest isn’t perfect or necessarily in order, but it is built and comfortable. We will continue to line it with warmth and welcome, but it’s as ready as it needs to be before the first snow falls or our daughter’s first day, whichever comes first.