Jillian Read spent five weeks with the WHALE Expecting Something group as an Emergent Artist. Her interest was film and blogging which she used to capture the essence of the group over the weeks.
We are writing down our wishes and fixing them to balloons. We are writing down our wishes, and I write “i hope that this art project goes well.” All in lower-case letters. I do that when I’m nervous.
A baby looks up at me with moon-sized eyes, staring. I don’t know her name, yet.
I’ll learn her name. And learn that she can sleep through a dance party, through pounding bass and songs belted out from memory. That her mom wears a necklace that’s built for teething. Blue and red and green squares and circles. That if you stare back into those moon-sized eyes long enough, she’ll smile. All gums.
Around me, girls my age write on their own folded slips of white paper. Hands curved around their writing, so I can’t see their wishes. I wonder what they are.
Girls my age talking about Justin Bieber and summer picnics. Girls my age wearing pink fluffy sweaters and blue jeans. Girls my age with babies in their laps.
I’ll learn that these girls my age aren’t girls at all. That they’re women who know how to hold their babies in just the right way. That they smile and dance and sing, and shoulder the responsibility for these children alone.
We stand outside on a warm July day, fingers wrapped around string wrapped around wishes. We count, “Three, two one.”
Balloons fly over our heads. Over houses and motorways and concrete shopping malls. We wave at red and blue dots and then nothing.
But, there’s a balloon caught on the beams criss-crossing the deck. It’s mine. “i hope that this art project goes well” dangles over our heads.
“Of course,” I say. I laugh to cover up my nervousness.
We wait until everyone’s thinking more about lunch than the balloon and the tangled string and the wish spinning in the wind. So, we go back inside, and I shove my hands into my pockets and try not to think about whether or not this is a bad sign.
I sit at the table and I learn. I learn names and stories and wishes. I learn the sound of women coming together.
And, later, when I run outside chasing two little boys who turn around every few steps to make sure they’re being chased, I learn that, at some point, while we were all sitting around the table laughing, my wish floated away.