Dani Klein Modisett
start treatment now. Come."
He pushed aside one of the muslin screens revealing a massage table,
the kind with the hole at the top to stick your face in when you
are lying on your stomach. I'd laid on one of those before. It made
the skin on my face feel like it was being stretched over a bowl,
like Saran Wrap. "Put your face in here," he said, pointing
to the hole.
was so confident and I noticed, before I lost my peripheral vision,
that he was wearing a lovely, soft, button-down shirt in deep rose.
Anyone with the taste to pick out that shirt obviously had vision.
"I stick needles in your low back." He felt around my
lower spine with his big, strong hands. "Interesting."
Thank you, I thought but didn't say, like a peacock very proud of
her tail feathers. "What? What's interesting?" came out
he said was bound to be a tremendous insight because he appeared
to be reading my back like Braille.
"You do gymnastics as kid?"
"Yeah." I said quickly. If you count cartwheels on my
front lawn hoping to get discovered, I thought while he kept feeling
up my spine.
"Your back grow funny. Stick out at lower part."
"You know, I had always wondered about that. It is very hard
for me to lie flat on my back. I always thought it was my fault."
This man really gets me. Wang moved on to my feet.
"I stick needles in now. No hurt. Some people like to hurt,
not me. You tell me how needle feel, 1-10. I like it 2-3 to start.
We work up to rest."
"Okay." I muttered through the face hole. I love this
guy. I feel more fertile just laying here. Speaking of which, he's
kind of sexy. He is. That shirt, the thick neatly trimmed hair.
He's so tuned in and sensitive and
A pain shot through my left foot like a machete had been lobbed
"Oh fuck! What the fuck?" Tears burst out of my eyes like
capitalists in China, missing the last boat to Taiwan.
"That too much? You very sensitive, look at you crying. You
big baby crying like that. You cry like baby. I took needle out.
Why you cry like baby? You cry like baby. I leave you for ten minutes."
there recovering from the shock of that amount of pain inflicted
on me and the fact that I was paying for it. What am I doing here?
Then I thought about how Gabriel's arms are so fat there is cleavage
where they meet his hands. I love him more than anything in life.
The screen moved a few inches; Jin poked his head in, "Come
back to office now." Putting on my shoes I felt ashamed, the
class wimp. I sat on the stool opposite his table, careful not to
brush my perforated foot.
"You no good candidate for needles. Some people, they can't
handle the needles. Is no good for me to give treatment because
is no fair to pay me when I can not do full treatment."
Clearly, not an American doctor.
"I no see you again."
"I go to China on Saturday, I come back in six weeks, but I
no see you again."
shouldn't we give this another shot? I mean, I
I'll work harder not to feel pain
I can change
" My foot twitched. Jin stared at me blankly. I pulled
myself together and whipped out my checkbook. "For the record,
I no see you again!" Noticing the plastic "Come Again"
sign hanging on the door I added, "And while you're in China,
why don't you pick up a little ambience, maybe a Pagoda shaped lamp
to brighten the place up, help you see what you're doing a little
better, invest in your drive-by needle shop."
course, I didn't say any of that out loud, because I was raised
in Connecticut. I wrote him a check for $125 dollars.
take herbs," he continued, "maximum dose, and you should
be fine. Pretty soon you have other baby, right? We hope!"
In the next six days I took the pills perfectly. I was determined
to prove that, although I cannot take needles, I could take pills
like Judy Garland.
On the seventh day, I couldn't get out of bed. Except to sprint
to the bathroom to shoot every fluid that wasn't encased in a vein
out of my ass. It was the most horrifying experience of my life,
and I'd given birth. I have never been so sick. Those fucking herbs.
Laying on my bed in a pool of sweat, bracing for the next intestinal
revolution, Gabriel running circles around me with his hands in
his pants wondering why Mommy wasn't moving, I made an appointment
to see my Western gynecologist, Dr. Chin.
"There's nothing wrong with you," he said holding test
results in his hand, characteristically unenthused.
"Really?" Easy for him to say, my rectum was still stinging.
"You're perfectly fertile. You just need to relax and give
it some time. Let's wait another six months."
"Six months! In six months I'll be really old. And what kind
of prescription is 'give it time?' Granted, I was relieved that
I didn't need the extensive hormone replacement therapy treatments
I had mapped out for myself, but beyond that, I felt lost. Doing
nothing is nothing I have any experience doing.
This morning I was back on the toilet with no pregnancy paraphernalia
to unwrap, no task to keep me distracted. I was "relaxing".
So of course I started thinking. I was reminiscing about the days
when pee was just some shaded yellow liquid and not the informant
it had become. How I used to feel relief when I got my period, not
depressed. The door to the bathroom flew open and Gabriel barreled
in waving a plastic stick in his hand, shouting,
"Mommy toy! Mommy toy!"
month's pregnancy test must have gotten stuck in the bottom of the
wicker basket. I grabbed it from him quickly. Still negative. Oh
well. I decided to tease him a little with mock incredulousness,
my life a series of Children's Theater moments. "Gabriel, where
did you get that?"
looked at me blankly, pausing to consider his options.
"Mommy Toy. Mommy Toy," he's 20 months, that's all he's
honey. That is Mommy's." Gabriel laughed hysterically and ran
doughnuts around the bathroom. He loves being right. His giddiness
was contagious. So I got up and ran in happy circles, too!
I didn't. I just can't find a way to end this story. I was hoping
to be able to write a cute little post-script about how now I'm
pregnant. But I'm not. And I don't know what's going to happen.
I can't write the end of the story because I don't know it, and
that is the biggest and most uncomfortable change since I made the
choice to join my life with someone else's. I don't know the end
of the story of my life, and right now it's a fucking nail biter.
know the end of the story of my marriage, the middle or end of the
story of Gabriel's life, or if there will be any story at all of
me and another baby. I knew the end of the story of my previous
life. I will live alone in one room; I will date many men for three
months at a time. I will eat popcorn in the dark. These were all
things I could plan and control.
life is none of that. It's one huge question mark after another
from the moment you bring the baby home. From, "Will it breathe
if I don't stare at it?" to, "Will he at least take his
hand out of his pants to eat?" to, "Will he get into a
college I can brag about?" So I hate it.
thank God I didn't alienate Wang. I may need him as an adoption
To be continued.
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