Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mind the Gap

I have a gap in between my two front teeth. It's not particularly noticeable (unless you are me, who notices it all. the. time). It used to be a much larger gap, but thanks to the magic - and pain - of orthodontics, it is now a dainty little thing at the bottom of the teeth that leaves curious bite patterns in apples.
image: flyzipper

I am 32 and Mr. X just turned 35. There is a gap of three years in our ages.

There is a cavernous gap in between my ears where, supposedly, my brain is supposed to be. I think it goes AWOL alot.

There is a yawning gap between me and my first cousins, due in large part to the extreme dislike my father has for their father, his brother. I don't really know my aunt and uncle.

By far my biggest gap, though, is the gap between what I expect will happen to me and what actually does happen to me. It is also the hardest gap to get over. There is no magic jump, no equation, no mathematical formula, or easy numerical explanation. It is a gap.

I know that I need to somehow bridge that gap, find the neutral ground, the median, the way forward through the center. The easy way, of course, is to stop having expectations. That's pretty hard to actually put into action. We are surrounded by reminders of what we should expect - the weather is predicted for us down to - literally - the nth degree, store ads tell us that we should expect to give presents to our fathers on Father's Day (and of course, contribute to the economic well-being of the nation), we even say that a woman is 'expecting' when she's pregnant. Expectations are all around us - both external and internal.

To be able to just abandon those one day is a Herculean feat and one that I don't think I am up for. So, now that I have eliminated the first option, what's next? First, it is to recognize that there is a gap - there will always be a gap between what we expect and what we get. Sometimes the gap will be teeny, other times it will be ginormous. Somehow knowing that there is going to be this gap makes it a little easier to accept it.

Then, well, still try to work on letting go of expectations. I can let go of expecting rain and getting none. It may be much harder to let go expecting that I will be able to carry a pregnancy the whole way through. But, I'll try.

That way, it will be one of the best surprises of my life.


admin said...

I really love this post. I have thought a lot about expectations and wanted to share this post of mine:

At the start of my post I mention a radio program. It might be worth a listen as it deals with this subject of expectations. The show is called "Voices in the Family" and is on out of philadelphia. It should be archived and probably ran on the same day as my post or a few days earlier.


Pepper said...

Another thing you and I have in common: diastemas that got smaller with braces. My dentist always wants to close mine with bonding. Irritating!

I agree about the expectation thing; they always get you into trouble. I've been working on letting go of mine for a long time and it's very, very hard. We'll get there, though.

Miss Schlegel said...

Oh, very beautiful. I have been thinking about the gap so much lately. Obsessively. If I am going to have a baby-shaped gap, I want to fill it with something befitting the nobility and grandeur of what might have been. I usually keep friends forever, but I have some friends who are no longer friends — because, when they didn't have children and wandered into their forties (where I am following them at a hurtling pace), they filled their baby gaps with parties and cocaine and boyfriends who never call back. They filled their gaps with "lifestyle". And a lifestyle that exactly replicates the lifestyle they had in their twenties to boot — but with a few more wrinkles.

I'm not American, but I understand there was much discussion about what to do with the gap where the World Trade Centers once stood. And in the end, it's still a gap. Maybe that's one solution. Honour the gap. Keep it gappy.

Salman Rushdie talked about the "god-shaped hole" in our lives now the world has largely moved on from religion. (Less so in the States, of course.) Do we do good works? How do we love our neighbour, without a godgiven reason?

It's also funny — and sad — how our expectations warp and wander depending on what we've come to expect. At the end of your post, you don't talk about expecting a baby, you talk about expecting to carry a pregnancy to term. When I started IVF, I expected babies. Then embryos. By the end, I just wanted a follicle or two. Our shrinking expectations are sad, but they shrink to stop us from being *unbearably* sad. They shrink the gap.

Melanie said...

You move me. Really. What I love about this post (and your blog) is the imagery of a gap, minor, cosmetic, huge, life changing. The visual is just fantastic and thought provoking. Thanks!

Deathstar said...

Well said. Seems I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to "mind the gap". Now I'm just finding out how to look out for joy.

DC said...

Gaps in expectations are the hardest. I trip on them all the time. :(

Shinejil said...

I'm all for preparing for what may seem like the worst case scenario. That way, everything else seems wonderful. It is a recipe for anxiety, though (the down side).

About those NYT comments: the blogs on the site are afflicted with an army of trolls, along with the normal riff raff who like to spout off about women's body parts and decisions. But they got my goat, too.

The Rebound Girl said...

How to bridge the gap...the abyss...if only we had the answers ourselves.