The college friend, Munch, who lives in Montreal in the movie Away We Go isn’t ever far from my mind. Yea, a fictional character from a movie most of you haven’t seen is always somewhere near the top of the pile of noodled thoughts in my brain.
Mark and I have loved this movie since we first saw it in the early months of our marriage. We often go back to it. It’s a sweet pleasure we share, just the two of us.
And yet, I tell everyone I know to watch this movie, but most don’t. Starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph in early in their careers; a little known film from 2009- most people avoid attempting the search function on prime.
But we watch it together once every 12 to 18 months or so.
In 2010, I thought Munch and her husband had it all. They had adopted a gaggle of diverse kids ranging in age from 5 to 16. They lived in a beautiful brownstone and were still in contact with their besties from college. It looked like an amazing life, one in which I had hoped to live in a few short years.
I didn’t fully understand the desperate dance at the random strip club on amateur night. I didn’t understand the look of known pain she exchanged with her husband as she was up on that pole while her college friend looked on stunned. It made little sense to me then. And yet now, over a decade later, I've exchanged similar looks with my own dear husband.
In the film, her husband mentioned she had had yet another miscarriage, just that week. Their friends had no idea. While I could somewhat sympathize with the pain they felt, I didn’t yet understand the desperation of the dance and I wasn't yet intimately acquainted with the pain. They had so many kids, how could they still be longing and trying when obviously a full-term pregnancy wasn’t in the cards for them.
I get it now. A bit too well. I am so glad that 2010 Carla didn’t utter those words out loud to anyone.
I understand Munch's dance now in ways I wish I didn't. I am not saying I’m going to jump up on a pole to dance at strip club anytime soon.
But I understand Munch's need to express her grief, to let out the anguish she can't usually show. I understand how happy she is for her friend's pregnancy and the overwhelming grief she has for her own. I understand the tension and anxiety she hides from her friends. I have hobbies now that I didn’t have back when I didn't know all these things. They are filling a space that has yet to be filled with pregnancy, babies, and motherhood. I know many people don’t get the things I’m interested in 2022. I don’t completely understand them either.
But I do understand Munch's pain. The constant longing. The hoping for something that isn’t logically in the cards. The blame she puts on herself for making plans for a family she thought would be so easy. I understand the desperate desire to be seen as a woman, even though my woman’s body won’t do the things it was meant to do, even though our society doesn’t see me as a complete woman because I haven’t attained true motherhood. I want to be seen as a complete, functioning, whole, sexual woman. I want to bee seen as a woman who can accomplish my so-called God-given female capability. Perhaps I want you to see me that way, because I no longer see myself that way.
I understand Munch's loss and the ensuing grief, though we’ve only experienced one miscarriage, and not the five Munch had. I’ve yet to know the hope of 2 lines post loss. What I thought was a very painful beginning, a promise of more to come, has just become a very confused, excruciating middle. One that many people in my life are probably learning about for the first time here. I didn’t tell many people about my miscarriage, just like Munch didn’t tell her dear college friend about hers.
No, I’m not going to dance on a pole. But I am walking around in the world like I’m a whole person not aching each minute for something more. I’m known to most as a normal adult, a professional, who might talk a little too much and make dark jokes- but someone like the rest of you. But I don’t feel like the rest of you. I feel like an anomaly. And I can see that you notice the difference, but you don’t know that those differences come with an unspoken price. And sometimes, when I can’t shake the melancholy of childlessness by moving forward with my normal life, I just want to climb up on that pole and show the world the bereaved mother hiding under the surface.
But I know you won’t get it.