Yesterday, I ran away to the “valley,” Oregon’s Willamette Valley between the Pacific Coast Range and the Cascades. I felt like I was smothering in gray sky, rain and storm-battered evergreens, work was frustrating, and I just had to get lost for a day. Do you ever feel like that? I have always had those days, and, not having children to care for, I can just get in the car and go.
My main destination was the mall in Albany, OR. Seventy miles away, it’s the closest one to where I live, and it’s not much of a mall. I’d have to drive a hundred miles for the real thing. I was hoping to find some new slacks and something pretty to wear for an upcoming party.
What I found was babies everywhere. Here in our small town on the coast, I live in an area dominated by retirees and tourists, so I guess I’m not used mainstream America, but everywhere I looked were young women with small children and/or pregnant bellies. Did I envy these young moms? Not really. Many of the kids were screaming, grabbing at the merchandise or talking incessantly. The visibly pregnant women looked . . . uncomfortable. What I did envy was how most of them came in pairs or groups with other young mothers, how they shared this stage of life with others going through the same thing. I never had that. Perhaps you haven’t had it either.
In the stores, whole sections don’t apply to me, the ones containing maternity clothes and things for children. There’s an invisible wall in front of those areas that says, NOT YOU. I bought some slacks, but did not find the dress of my dreams. What ever happened to lovely fabrics and tasteful designs made for adults? But that’s a whole other subject.
On the way home, I stopped at a park that runs along the Willamette River in Corvallis. It was warm enough to leave my coat in the car. The trees are starting to blossom, and the river, flooding and muddy a few weeks ago, looked green and peaceful now. Sitting at a picnic table, I watched a young engaged couple walk by, followed by a photographer taking pictures. I watched a father on a bike tow his baby in one of those plastic baby trailers while the mom roller-bladed beside them. And I watched four young men, possibly college freshmen from nearby Oregon State, pass by on skateboards. I observed and felt life passing by me.
Is it just me or are there more babies this time of year? In the fields I passed on the way to Albany, I saw lambs and calves. It’s spring, and the humans are reproducing, too. Have we bypassed the natural progression, missed baby season? Perhaps. But like the river, we move on. Have a fun weekend. Do something you couldn’t do if you had children.