It's early Saturday morning on April 15, 2017, a date that will soon serve as the birthday of my first little niece or nephew (we're not sure which one just yet). It's 1:25 A.M. California time and 3:25 A.M. Wisconsin time and the last I heard, my sister-in-law was 7cm dilated and 90% effaced. I do not know what that second thing means, but I do know what that first thing means, and it means this: there is a real baby making its way out into this world as we speak.
And what world is it that that little girl or boy or gender non-conforming human person is pushing towards? Is it a good one? Is it a bad one? Is it one that's completely different from the one I forced my way into? Or the one my mom or my grandma or any other person on this planet somehow managed to populate? Is it really a new world full of anger and fear and hatred that I've been hearing so much about? I don't ask these questions to make some type of grand point; I'm not trying to do a Won't Somebody Please Think of the Children thing here, I'm genuinely asking: is the world different than it used to be? Is there a new world to come? Or are we simply just cycling through our same old struggles with being humans on earth in a slightly newer way? I ask because I'm not equipped to answer these questions myself. I'm only 27 years-old, and while my brother sent me messages from the delivery room, I wondered if I'd be able to pay for the dent I put in my landlord's garage now that I'm unemployed, and then I ate an edible and went to Marie Callender's for half-price pie and watched bad movies with my friends. I don't know shit about the cycles of the world and the picture of humanity as a whole. But... I have noticed a few key observations.
People still have babies. They get to feel that same expectation and fear and relief and joy that humans have been experiencing for centuries. I can't imagine those core feeling have changed at all over time. How could they? I am exactly 2,063 miles away from the delivery room where my brother and sister's baby is being born, and even I can barely process the entire event. I know my brother is about to have an official little family of his own, I know my mother is going to suddenly be a grandmother when I wake up, and I know I am going to spend the rest of my life thinking about how best to love and protect and entertain that little kid. It's amazing that all of those major life changes will happen overnight, at the first breath of a person we don't even know yet. Things seem bleak in the world, but I am glad people still have babies.
People also still laugh. They watch movies with their friends, bad ones and good ones and screenings of old ones in historic theaters attended by drag queens acting out crucial scenes. (I saw Whatever Happened to Baby Jane for the first time last night, and it is--rightfully--still on my mind. Forgive the tangent). We laugh, then we remember something bad that happened out in the world, so we think we ought to stop laughing for a while, but then we can't help but do it again. No matter how hard I've tried to be somber the last few months, thinking I owe it to the world to really process things seriously and get a handle on where we're going and what my part in it will be, I have (sometimes guiltily) found myself laughing. I had the absolute gift of working on making something with tremendous amounts of heart that happened to be hilarious. Despite how much I love and appreciate this thing we were creating, it was hard to focus on the work for me. Besides worrying about friends and worrying about the future, I wondered if working in TV mattered at all, if I should go back to teaching or become one of those VERY RICH professional protestors. But instead, I chose laughter, and I gave myself over to it as much as I possibly could. So did the two-hundred other people who worked on that show. Everybody chose laughter, and it was cathartic, and we watched a little but of what we had made at the wrap party, and I cried. I am still not sure if they were tears of laughter or if I just felt overwhelmed about the fact that a bunch of human beings who all felt very differently about these perceived changes in the world came together and made something so strange and special and funny. People still laugh, and we will always laugh, no matter what.
And a last thought for tonight: people still move away from their families and find themselves alone at 2 A.M., texting their exhausted family members for any details of the strange new world that's being created two thousand miles away so that they can feel like a little part of the excitement, even though they're halfway across the country. I wish I were sitting in that waiting room, talking to my brother about how he feels about the world he's bringing this baby into. Knowing him, he feels optimistic. I'm guessing he feels confident that his child is going to go through all the ups and downs that we did, and that that might be okay for the baby, because it was okay for us. These are guesses. I can't ask, because I'm very far away and I just have to hope I don't sleep through the call when the baby has finally made its way to the earth and a handful of people's lives will change very significantly. But I can guess, because moving away from people I love and consistently having to find new people to love in new places has made me realize that even though the scenery changes, the feelings tend to stay the same. We still feel lonely and homesick and excited and proud, just like people who have moved away from people they love have felt for centuries.
So I don't know what kind of world this is that my niece or nephew is fighting into tonight, but I do know that it's one where people still have babies and laugh and move far away, and experience all the feelings that accompany all those different things. This is something I can understand. This is something we can look forward to explaining to our little ones.
Update: It's a boy!