Craig Childs - House of Rain
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Field Notebook

Fall, 2006
New York


Regan is eight months pregnant in New York, and her movements have taken on whale-like proportions. We are now a stroller family, a moving island of water bottles and a grimy kid. We treat New York like any other wilderness, gearing up for the day and heading out to see what we might find. Hauling the stroller up and down subway stairs is like navigating an icefall, crowding the line until people in the back start jeering. This is Jasper's sixth time to the city. We want him to get a taste for all the landscapes we explore, and New York is our best urban-ground. After all, Coyotes go everywhere. Sweaty and fast in a subway station, we ask Jasper, uptown or downtown? He chooses. Then, express or local? Hop on, rattle down the rails, get out when he says to. It doesn't matter where we are going. We are just exploring.

After a whole day flatfooted like this, Regan starts scuffing her hiking boots on the sidewalks, uncomfortably hoisting her pants under her big belly as if she were fresh out of the bayou. Then, at a quarter past eleven at night on the corner of West 4th and 13th, Regan's motor finally winds to a stop. She halts and sits her ass right down on the pavement. We are close enough to the due date that we had to fight the airlines to get a round-trip ticket. They didn't want a baby popping out en route. Regan wanted to be in New York before the birth, getting a taste of the high life before being stuffed back into the post-partem hole, what we came to call the Milk Prison. She leans back on her palms, bracing herself on years of dog piss and chewing gum. No one stops to see if she needs help. All it takes is a quick glance to see this woman needs help from no one. I ask if she needs me to hail a cab. "No taxis," she spits. This is the third time tonight I asked. She is starting to get annoyed. Why no taxi? According to Regan, swerving through head-on traffic in the back of a cab at eight months is stupid. I don't think it's such a bad idea at this point, but I am not about to push the issue with a woman on the ground presenting her pregnant belly like a war shield. Pedestrians part around her like a river around a boulder. I take up residence at a nearby fire hydrant, while Jasper runs among the good people of New York who glance down and grin at this wild child. I think of calling him back, telling him to leave people alone, but I cannot. He is too beautiful to stop.



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