Wildwood

Kelsey Breseman
3 min read6 days ago
Photo by Eileen Breseman

Since I was last in my home forest, I got engaged, married, pregnant, and graduated (not in that order). In that eight-month interim, I visited five continents, met my husband's family members, and saw both of my siblings who have been living abroad.

But back in October, I packed tentatively. I didn't bring a lot, not willing to bank on my then-fledgling relationship with the man who is now my husband. All my tickets were one-way: a country at a time, future uncertain. I hoped.

And it worked: now I'm married to a gentle, loving man who will, in just twenty-one weeks, embark on parenthood with me.

He held my gaze as long as he could from his seat in the seaplane. Standing on the Pelican float with my parents, I waved goodbye. This was a one-way ticket, too. Now, I'm waiting for a visa so I can return to the UK and officially live there: likely, our longest time apart so far.

But while he is home, family and woods are home too. I've shared food with my aunt and cousins, had deep talks with my half sister as we drive back and forth between her Juneau place and the Celebration festivities downtown.

I've been feeling better in familiar places. My sister packs apple slices to share, and I'm comfortable saying, let's go back, it's time to lie down. But I can also stay out a bit longer, now. I always breathe deeper with mountains before me, big trees at a distance of touch.

Beside the runway in Juneau, the lupine is finally blooming. From the window of the jet, I watch the seaplanes dock at their floats. The endless glaciers and peaks of Alaska slowly fade under the clouds while Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian songs still echo in my ears.

I feel a bit on tour, carrying my baby belly before me as I make the rounds of many communities that have long been a part of my life. This is a special time. As my young cousin pointed out, the next time I see her, I'll be a mom. I only wish I could introduce my new husband to everybody.

Back at my sometime base of Wildwood, I have about a month packed full of social engagements (and appointments) before I go again to make London a long-term home.

It will be joyful, maybe challenging. I haven't really adjusted my self-expectations: while I am aware that at any given time I probably need to eat, pee, drink something, or lie down (if not a few of those at once), I have so far failed to adjust my plans. We'll see how it goes.

Although it's midnight before we reach the house, I'm up early the next morning. This much farther south, it's suddenly warm. I feel good, greeting the cats, walking barefoot in the garden. My bedroom is all windows to forest and sky, the air is sweet, the kitchen always ready for me to play host.

We move in easy patterns: my mother and I putting a leaf in the table, friends arriving with food, cutting fruit. Three babies under ten months old wriggle in arms and across the floor. The older child knows where we keep the blocks.

The women I've invited over are comfortable in my kitchen. We come and go, sit and talk: jobs, homes, pregnancies, children, plans. Not everybody has kids, or wants to. Lives have changed a little or a lot.

It's been eight months: a length of time both long and short. None of my news is a surprise: this is a community whether or not I'm physically here. Word gets passed around. There are many independent strands across this web of support.

This is June. The kiwi vine I planted is wrapping up the trellis, the salmonberries are ripe, the strawberries are green yet but growing plump.

And so am I, connecting two halves of an implausible life: I have a ring on my finger and a baby in my belly and I'm back in the bedroom where I grew up. With Robert eight time zones away and all of this here, it's impossible to tell which part of the dream is the sleeping one, which place I'll be when I wake up.

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