The Compass Inside

Three years ago, I left Chicago. I left without having any idea as to where I was going.

Shortly thereafter, I received a small package in the mail.

A compass.

‘May you end up where you are supposed to be,’ the enclosed note said.

She didn’t say ‘come back to me.’ She said, may you end up where you are supposed to be.

May you end up where you are supposed to be.


On my first date with Nic, I told him, straight-up: “I will never get married, and I will never have a child.” I said it with conviction. I didn’t want those things.


One night, early into our relationship, in the pitch-black room where we slept, a sound awoke us. Oh, god. Oh, god. Diarrhea. The dog.

Within seconds, we had the light on, and silently, methodically, attacked the situation. He grabbed towels while I escorted the dogs outside. I grabbed water while he scrubbed. He handed me cleaner, I handed him waste. He brought a garbage can. We let the dogs in. We kissed each other. We kissed them. We turned off the light.

I will remember the voice that came from inside me, as I lowered my back once again onto the bed, for the rest of my life. It was clear as a bell. I want to have a baby with him. 

I was too tired for it to scare the shit out of me.


When I got pregnant, it was because I wanted to have a baby with him. It wasn’t because I wanted to be a mother. I didn’t want all the parts of me to be folded up and onto each other, until I was flat, and one-sided. From swan to broken-wing plane origami. A mother.


Mothers from far and wide stepped up to tell me, “The minute he comes out, you will feel a wave of love like nothing else.”

When Nic showed me the baby, that they pulled out of me, I looked up, and went ‘Hm.’ Then I laid my head back down on, and thought about my severed body.


I didn’t want to live in Iowa. If I could have pointed that compass anywhere, it would have been far away from here. I would have pointed it to an apartment built-for-one, in a city made for millions. I wanted a life of solitude, because solitude made me feel safe.


Oliver’s a year old tomorrow. The happiest year of my life, by far and wide and far.

The beginning of our journey was about biology. The rest has been about love.


I know why I have a life I didn’t map out for myself. Because I needed it. Because I needed him. And I needed him. I needed both of them. 

Happy Birthday to my baby, who did nothing more, and nothing less, than breathe new life into me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s