Same as it ever was.
August 14th 2013
25 weeks pregnant.
Some mornings I wake up and ask myself, “Who the fuck am I?” I immediately begin to hear that Talking Heads song, “Once in a Lifetime,” repeat in my brain, like when my sweat causes my iPod to malfunction at the gym. Honestly though, I am astounded by how quickly things have been changing in my life. I’m now the owner of a house where I quasi-cohabitate with my boyfriend. I own a new car. I’m fucking pregnant. All these things have happened in the last six months. That’s half a year, 26 weeks, 182 days, 4,368 hours, 262,080 minutes. That shit is crazy. I have wanted most of these things for a while now, but now that I have acquired them, I sometimes find myself at a loss. After the opening performance of my play, “The Shotgun,” in November 2012, I remember sitting in the empty theater staring at my set onstage and feeling a sense of accomplishment mixed with despair. That is how I felt when I woke a few days ago.
After high school in New Mexico I moved back to New Orleans to attend college at Tulane. I wanted to wait to get married and have children because I was sure that after attaining my degree I would find the career of my dreams. Along the way I had a few semi-successful relationships, but most of the time the guy was too jealous, not motivated enough or not really into girls like me (or girls at all). I also had a penchant for cheating on every boyfriend I’ve ever had (sorry if some of you are reading this and just figuring it out now). I never felt fully satisfied with anyone. Maybe this was partly because I was raised predominantly by my father who taught me that I should never settle for someone who wasn’t willing to accept me for who I was, or maybe it was because I had no idea what I really wanted. “Who I was” turned out to be pretty slutty after a serious heartbreak and from there it was apparent that marriage and children were not going to be in my immediate future.
On the other hand I had close friends who chose the more traditional route of settling down and buying homes and preparing to expand their families. All before the age of 30. I maintained for years that I wasn’t ready for that type of commitment and my actions often solidified my words. Every time I thought that I had maybe found “the one,” all it took was a couple of drinks and a sly smile from another man (or often woman) and I was in a bathroom stall or an alley with my panties around my ankles or a cock/breast in my mouth. I often thought, “Jesus, Lori, you are your own worst enemy.” But it was New Orleans and not only was it fun but extremely socially acceptable. While many of my high school friends were picking out colors for their nurseries, I was nursing epic hangovers and covering bruises with Dermablend. I dabbled in drug use/addiction, sexual deviations, and other completely irresponsible behaviors. I always had the best stories and people loved to hear them. I was enjoying slowly killing myself. And then I wasn’t. My partying took on a hard edge of intended self-destruction. For every awesome inebriated story I had, there were three which ended with me in a verbal or physical altercation. I had become a mean drunk, a solitary drug user and a general disappointment to others, but most specifically myself.
The drastic turn happened somewhere around 2005. I was self-medicating. Feeling the grief of a series of deaths was something that I wasn’t interested in doing, so I tried to drown it in booze, cigarettes, drugs and risky sex. I knew I had to curb these behaviors or I would be the next to go. So I did. I stopped using methamphetamines, I seriously reduced my drinking, and I started seeing a therapist. Due to other unfortunate circumstances, I left my job at the strip club, which in retrospect was a good move for my recovery. I began a serious yoga practice. I slowly, very slowly, became less angry. And then I was able to once again return to some of my past behaviors (sans drug use) without them becoming a crutch. Relationships were more peaceful on all levels, because I was a happier, healthier person.
I’ve always been very into sex, even when I wasn’t doing it “right.” In the past, I had used my sexuality to manipulate others, and every time I did this I ended up being the one who was hurt the most. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I really began to enjoy sex. At this time I had developed a healthy level of self-confidence that made me much more free-spirited. This coincided with my initial heartbreak and while not every partner during that decade was memorable, I had some really great times. My thirties have become even better. My relationship with Andy has allowed me to share a life with someone whom I love and respect more than anyone else, and at the same time has afforded me sexual freedom. While we aren’t a “super sexy swinging couple,” we are open to the idea of non-monogamy. We both understand that it is impossible for one person to truly satisfy another person’s every need. Sure, this type of love and relationship has its challenges, but name one that doesn’t.
I think one of the main accomplishments of my sexual development occurred when I realized that it was important for me to have respect for and confidence in the people whom I choose to sleep with. Early versions of me were “slutty” in the most generic description of the term. One night stands, exes, drunken mistakes. I had little self-respect for quite some time, so it was no surprise that I wasn’t making positive sexual decisions. Also sex during times of depression and addiction was more about numbing my mind than actually enjoying anything. For over the last five years I have worked to develop a repertoire of people whom I truly care for. Some of them also happen to be lovers, as some of them are not. I have enjoyed a variety of sexual experiences, each modern lover bringing something new or different to the relationship, whether it was a particular fetish or a personal desire. I have been very fortunate to share such amazing experiences in a city that accepts these types of relationships more openly than most. I have found a lot of inspiration in my friends and lovers. They have served as a catalyst for many of my artistic endeavors including my photography and writing.
A few years ago, when I attained full custody of my teenage nephew, I noticed a decline in my amorous relationships. I was fearful that the old saying was true: “Kids kill your sex life.” It definitely appeared to be the case. I was actually sipping a bucket of frozen margarita while naked at the Country Club when I received the initial phone call that he had overdosed. My life changed in that minute. It wasn’t even a question as to whether or not I was willing to help him. I tried, and for the following year and a half after that phone call, he became the main focus of my energy. It was emotionally exhausting trying to help an addict who wasn’t truly interested in helping himself. My tenure as a parent for him officially ended on his 18th birthday, but had fallen apart a few months before that when he had overdosed again, this time at our house. It wasn’t surprising to me that my personal life was neglected during this time period. I had little energy for anything other than working and worrying. I lost desire in most things that I had once really enjoyed. And while it was difficult, I don’t regret trying to help him. I hope that the time we shared left him with at least somewhat of a better perspective. The situation had however left both Andy and I with a bad taste of what parenting can be like. In turn I have spent a lot of time worrying as to whether Wilder will completely emotionally drain us, like my nephew did.
When I look at my contemporaries, I feel a sense of admiration, respect and inspiration. Just this past week I attended a community speech Jackie presented, Daphne’s new art opening, and had lunch with Sally, who has given several entertaining/informative lectures on New Orleans history and is currently writing a novel for her book deal. I’m also fortunate to know many other writers, photographers, artists and performers here and across the country. A common thread among many of the successful people in my social group is that they don’t have children. This is for various reasons, and while most have chosen on their own terms not to procreate, they are very supportive of others who choose to have children. I can’t help but wonder if they would be as successful if they had children. I feel like there is a dichotomy in parenting (for mothers specifically), where you have to either be willing to sacrifice everything for your child in order for them to have a healthy, happy upbringing or choose to be the type of parent who still has personal goals and ambition but then risks completely fucking up your child. I know it may sound selfish, but I don’t want my son to be the greatest accomplishment of my life. I want him to be one of my many great accomplishments.
I want Wilder to always feel loved and supported, but I also want him to see that his parents have goals and desires of their own. While I am anxiously looking forward to how his presence will change all of our lives, I am nervous about the impact it will have on my personal relationships and my creative endeavors. I’ve spent many nights pondering his impact on my sexual relationships, especially mine and Andy’s. Are mothers less sexy because they are perceived to have “let themselves go” or is it because they are exhausted? Will my new status as “mommy” immediate deem me as unfuckable or no fun? Am I supposed to abandon all the debauchery that has been a main source of happiness and inspiration? What the fuck happens to “SlutsUnlimited?”
I would like to believe that most mothers-to-be go through this same type of identity crisis. Having a baby is not easy, in any circumstance, but it’s been a pretty amazing adventure so far. The level of introspection I have attained has surpassed any yoga-workshop-breathing-cleanse I’ve done in the past. His existence has made me so much more self-aware and in many ways more motivated. While it is very true that I don’t always recognize myself (quite literally as my body has changed so much), I feel that most of the changes have been improvements. My hope is to maintain my awareness for the need of personal fulfillment, even after Wilder is born. Houses and cars are fantastic, and I am very grateful to have them, but they are nothing when compared to self-achievement. One lesson I hope to teach my son is that he can become whoever he wants to be, as long as he is willing to truly strive for it. SlutsUnlimited will make it through motherhood, one way or another.