Semantic notions about life: an exploration of words and signs, and the stories they are trying to tell.

purge

purge

  Corner of N. Williams Ave. & NE Skidmore, Portland, OR, USA

Corner of N. Williams Ave. & NE Skidmore, Portland, OR, USA

purge /pərj/

Verb. To get rid of someone or something, such as an unwanted feeling, memory, or condition, typically giving a sense of cathartic release.

My mother’s mother, whom we call both Nana and Nina, is very particular when it comes to what she considers acceptable behavior and choices. For example, at age 13, she scolded me on my usage of the word barf.

“It’s not ladylike,” she stated as fact, not opinion. At the time, I was informed vomit was no good either, and given the unsolicited suggestion to use the word regurgitate instead.

I am reminded of this lesson every time I regurgitate, which I have now averaged twice a day for nearly nine months. It is January 23, a dusting of crystallized snow covering the sidewalks, cars, lamp posts, and what grass there is left on decaying winter lawns, and I am six days away from giving birth. I am lying on the table for what should be one of my final examinations before delivery. My OB/GYN is a tall, broad woman of German descent with absolutely no bedside manner but an impeccable reputation. She calmly notes that my morning sickness normally should have well subsided by now.

“So, why hasn’t it?” I had asked her. I’d long gotten past the awkwardness of having conversations with the heels of my feet in cold stirrups. “Is something wrong?”

She motions for me to sit up, shaking her head no. “This can happen occasionally when having your first child,” she says, peeling off her blue latex gloves, pressing her foot on the steel bin pedal, and tossing them away.

“My only child,” I add, my voice, a cold, wet stone.

She picks up my chart, flipping through the details of my history. “You’re only 32. No need to make a final decision on that front just yet. I see nothing here out of the ordinary.”   

I start to redress, but each layer takes extra time now. The sensible, not sexy beige bra and waistband-nearly-worn-out underwear. The now-XL short sleeved white t-shirt, the baggy, grey wool sweater coat. The maternity jeans free of zippers in lieu of an expanding panel, but still require one leg at a time. I wrap my chesnut hair in a loose, messy ponytail last, my eyes envious of my doctor’s sleek, golden blonde bob.

She looks up from the folder and catches my stare.

“Perhaps, your body is responding to something else,” she says. “Something that doesn’t agree with you.”

Before I can respond, I hear the vibration of my cell phone from my purse once again. And I ignore it, once again. His calls are increasing in frequency as the days remaining start to dwindle, his voice mails growing longer, a symphony of desperation and threat, and at times, just the sound of breathing against the background of silence.

“Do you need to get that?” she asks.

“No,” I tell her. “I do not.”

or·der

or·der

res·cue

res·cue