Long ago, when Darcy and I were innocent and carefree and full of confidence and hope and planning our perfect wedding, we went on a trip. This is when we lived in London and RyanAir offered incredible deals: we booked a flight to Forli, a quick drive to Tuscany, for $25 a person!
We stayed in a total and complete dump of a rental in the middle of a vineyard which sounds romantic and cool but mostly involved broken-down plumbing and 10 mile drives to grocery stores.
The best day of our trip involved a drive to San Gimignano, a beautiful hilltop town with medieval skyscrapers. It was a stunning and unique city and we wandered into an art gallery. Darcy comes from a family of art collectors and one of his relatives had told us they would gift us with a painting of our choosing.
I don’t know much about art. I know what I like. Darcy and I fell in love with a painting at this gallery, by an artist named Rita Pedulla. The gallery owners didn’t tell us much about her, except that she was 35, had just had her first baby and was newly interested in women and fertility. Um…
I was so incredibly clueless at the time. While I had had intuitions that I was not super fertile, I had not spent much thought on getting pregnant.
And so, we bought this painting.
Oh, the irony.
Eventually we moved back to the states and moved into a new home. We were so excited to hang the painting in our bedroom. We thought it would inspire us and bless us. Oh, how wrong wrong we were.
During our housewarming party, a kindly friend noted the painting and said in a whisper: “It won’t be long now.”
Three years later we moved. Turns out I am as suspicious as a baseball player on an unholy streak. Once we moved into our city apartment, I banished the painting into Josh’s tiny office. It looked weird in there. But I wanted it nowhere near us and our procreation efforts. It mocked me. The painting of a round and fecund woman, glorying in her own ripeness. Oh, how I HATED it. But we had paid good money for this large piece of canvas. I had deeply loved it. I remember the lunch where we giddily consumed truffle risotto and delicious bread and discussed buying a piece of art worth more than one month’s rent! How indulgent it had seemed. How young, naive we were.
Once the twins were born, I didn’t feel so mad at the painting. My stomach had swelled. I had been that round. The painting did not fill me with longing and envy anymore. We put the painting in a place of honor, in our living room. It had endured the pain, the exclusion, the sadness of our loss of innocence, our joy at conceiving.
Then: I got pregnant naturally and miscarried. I was soured once again on the painting. But I kept it in our living room, this time.
We are changing our living room and putting our TV where the painting now hangs. There is nowhere else for it to go except our bedroom. I would rather eat dirt than hang it in there. Why?
Tonight I looked at it deeply for the first time in years. I noticed that the fertile woman has a platter in front of her and the piece of fruit on it appears to be a pomegranate. That’s quite odd.
Who knows what the artist’s true story is? Maybe she went through years of infertility and rejoiced in her sudden plumpness. Perhaps she chose the pomegranate very, very carefully. Perhaps she placed that piece of fruit very deliberately on that platter, as a symbol of hope, joy and enduring belief in faith that we can somehow achieve our vision of becoming a mother, no matter how motherhood is achieved. Maybe the painting is a metaphorical vision of women before they conceive or adopt.
That’s what I am going to choose to believe. Because art is ultimately a reflection of what both the artist intends and what the viewer interprets. I choose to believe, today, the hopeful version of the fecund woman because it makes me happy.
Has your battle with infertility made you suspicious?