It's hard to imagine so much stress from an event that occurs once a month, if I choose to allow it, and causes one day of wanting to stay in bed in the fetal position plus three or four more days of discomfort and yuck.
But there it was.
Five days late.
I'm not the most diligent person when it comes to my birth-control pills and I certainly don't expect sex to just happen. After all, it's been three years since I've had a regular man in my life.
And one-night stands just aren't my thing ... anymore. Hell, at 37, I don't have the patience to endure that awkward fumbling in the morning, wondering if he plans on staying for coffee and not caring what his last name is, let alone whether he takes cream and sugar.
But this was a guy who entered my life unexpectedly and, oddly, I could see a future with him ... the kind of future that has evaded me all these years.
We had a date and it was, without any hint of cynicism, magic. I had even met his parents that night, going to a dinner theatre, chatting and wanting to learn more about them and their family.
Sex wasn't even on my mind. But yet it happened.
And even worse than my lax attitude toward my pills, I reached into my nightstand last week and felt my stomach leap into my throat.
The condom we had used? I had one left from its package. The wrapper screamed at me: EXPIRY DATE 05/2009.
Jesus Motherfucking Christ. WHAT?
It was my first panic attack in three years. My heart beat so loud I could hear it, my hands shook, and a clammy sweat broke out on my face.
Am I pregnant?
It isn't anything either one of us needs to happen right now. He is fresh out of a marriage with a cheater and needs time to get to know himself better. I am hoping upon hope of starting a new job soon.
How would I tell him? Would I even tell him until enough time had passed for him to deal with it? What if it didn't work out between us? How would his ex-wife and kids factor into this mess? What if I had to be a single mother? What if ... what if ... what if ...
The questions kept me up at night.
And that's the joy (there's the cynicism you were missing) of being in this situation. Already stressed out from life's other wonderful snags and obstacles, the Tomato Boat stays at bay instead of docking, causing a tumultuous cycle of stress.
Worse yet, there's dealing with it alone. Not a foreign concept to me, being the type to never ask for help until it's almost too late.
Not having a shoulder to lean my head on. Not having someone to wipe my tears. Not having someone to hold my hair when the stress got so bad I puked into a garbage can on the sidewalk.
Just me. And my survival mode.
Until that moment when the Crimson Wave rolls in.
It was different this time, though. When The Scare occurred in the past, the dread turned to joy when my period finally arrived.
On Saturday, my heart sunk. I was bewildered by the disappointment I registered in my head.
And now I'm more confused than ever.