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Iceland with a 9-month-old
Our quest to prove we could travel with a baby
This past week, I was thrilled to see an essay of mine up at Mom Egg Review. I wrote this piece about taking my baby to Iceland shortly after it happened in 2017 as part of my motherhood memoir. Then it was 3,700 words but now it’s a mere 990. It’s since been cut from the manuscript and crafted into something entirely different. It was rejected 17 times over three years, but the 18th was the charm, I guess.
My husband and I had this desperation to prove that our marriage and ourselves wouldn’t change after having a baby, and after having a successful trip to Disney when our daughter was 5 months old, we thought we could take on a different time zone, a different country, a different language. The first version of this piece contrasted the ease of the first trip with the hardship of the second.
The trip itself was so bittersweet; there was always happiness accompanying the hard times and vice versa, which I think the published piece still captures. It was hard, and I wanted it to be over, but it was beautiful and I think on it fondly.
There are so many things about that trip that got erased from this final essay version: my daughter in a fleece sack, how she hated Icelandic yogurt, how I worried the neighbors of our rented villa would call the owner to complain about our screaming kid, her refusal to sleep, but also watching birds dive in the harbor, delicious Icelandic hot dogs which I still dream about six years later, hiking around the otherworldly pools of the Blue Lagoon, eating lobster soup, finding abandoned shipwrecks on a rocky beach.
Since then, my daughter has been a lot of places in her short life: Florida numerous times, Washington, D.C., Washington State, New Mexico, Alaska. We didn’t let this less-than-ideal trip diminish our determination to travel, and our kid is quite the adventurer now.
Whenever we talk about Iceland, we tell our daughter that we’ll go back when she’s older and point out to her all the places she ruined that first trip. See that crater there? That’s where you demanded to be fed. See that building? That’s where you wouldn’t stop crying and we had to rush out because everyone was giving us dirty looks.
I’m looking forward to it.
Amelia splashed happily, flicking water droplets onto her cheeks and her fuzzy hair. Because she seemed to be enjoying herself, I didn’t worry that the water was too warm or the breeze was too cold. I let my anxieties sink down to the bottom of the spring, where I could no longer see them.
My 9-month-old baby in her watermelon swimsuit floating in Iceland’s Secret Lagoon.
It’s been a year since the Supreme Court rolled back Roe V. Wade. This week, I read Nat Beach’s essay in Memoirland about her experience being an escort at a women’s health clinic, a dangerous job that shouldn’t even be necessary. She does a fabulous job of making the reader feel like they’re right there with her, and I love how she depicts the hypocritical nature of the protestors. I’m so glad brave and thoughtful people are out there protecting those who are already going through a hard enough time.
It’s your job to accompany the client and her companion (that’s what you’re taught to call them) from their cars to the clinic door. There are more ways than you’d expect to screw up something so simple. Despite the vest, you’ll be mistaken as part of the group of “antis” blocking the sidewalk. (The terminology is tedious but important, because we live in a world where the movement that assassinates doctors still gets to call itself “pro-life.”) You will learn that even your most innocuous small talk can go wrong; “How are you?” is a loaded question. “Good morning” comes off as presumptuous. Safe areas: weather, football, loungewear.
- Nat Beach
A toad guarding the door of the patio. Giving off equal zen vibes and no trespassing vibes.
Also out of Memoirland, I found this beautiful essay by Jiadai Lin, a writer I had the pleasure of working with last week during an online writing workshop. I definitely can relate to the urge to think about one’s relationship with one’s mother after becoming a mother yourself, and I love the theme of healing in this essay, even when healing comes from discomfort.
Finger by finger, she would rub Lubriderm lotion into my cracked cuticles, into the open cuts and whitened callouses. She would tell me that I could be a ballerina with these hands, or a violinist, my fingers long and strong like her own. Her voice would ring with a sadness that I didn’t recognize until later, when I hit my early thirties, that melancholy song of what could have been. I would study my mother’s face as she worked my hands, her eyes focused but relaxed, exhibiting so much care, as if everything in my future could pivot on this very moment.
- Jiadai Lin
My daughter and I in chalk.
What I’m Listening To:
Whether I want to hear it or not, Luke Combs’ cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” is playing on pretty much every radio station. I’m not going to complain, because Chapman’s song is a great one, and Combs’ hasn’t really changed it much. I get that the song is nostalgic for Combs, which is why he recorded it, but I can’t help but wonder: why cover a song if you’re not going to make it yours? Rachel Brodsky covers a lot of my questions in her Stereogum article, so check it out.
Combs’ “Fast Car” hardly qualifies as a reinterpretation, as it sticks to the original’s acoustic composition, then layers in some pedal steel and bombastic, room-filling drums. Without venturing into Blackface territory, it’s like Combs’ “Fast Car” is merely wearing the skin of Chapman’s “Fast Car.” It’s a cheaply made but easily mass-produced band tee.
- Rachel Brodsky
The chickens are getting big! And don’t mind getting all up in your business.
What I’m Watching:
My coworker and husband talked me into watching Jury Duty this week. I’m not much for reality television, so my expectations were low. But boy, was that show just lovely. So much heart and hilarity. They really lucked out with the guy they picked. I couldn’t believe how accepting and easy-going Ronald was throughout. And strangely insightful. I want to know more about this guy.
“[If I asked] ‘Is this fake?’ I would have to question my entire reality. So it made much more sense that I was surrounded by weird people than that my whole world was fake,” he said. “What makes the most sense to you, that your whole world is fake? Or this guy’s weird?
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