Interview with Vanessa Walker
by Zell Thomas
Zt: Currently where are you located?
Vw: I live in an unfamiliar city two hours south of Portland. There's a paper mill nearby that produces a stench that, on some days, is overwhelming. Much like that of an overused trailhead bathroom.
The view from our bedroom window is that of other townhouses but as I lay in bed I can gaze upon the mountain scape that is just beyond us. A glimmer of beauty in this otherwise dreary part of town.
We have a medium sized patio in the back that had been previously underused. My hammock swings on a sole tree just off the center of the yard. The ground hasn't been kept in the past so I've put small efforts into making the space a bit more lively. Even still, the interior of our home flows with more greenery than the outdoor space. When the warm weather comes, my efforts will return. The space deserves some attention.
We have a basketball court that rarely gets used along with a tennis court, dog park and playground. Every once in a while you'll hear the bouncing of a basketball or the sound of the neighbors walking with their kids or their dogs, which brings some life to the neighborhood.
The place has it's charm.
Zt: I really like the tone of your response and how you seem to be in tune with the juxtaposition of objects in and outside of your personal space. It is here that I can wholeheartedly relate. I think we all have forced perceptions that have allowed us to endure through the mitigating of the virus during lockdown.
Is there anything in your life right now that arouses your admiration more than ever? Like something inside you personally or something in the exterior or peripheries that moves you to understand better?
Vw: Well, I have an admiration for something quite literally inside me. I found out I was pregnant back in November and am sitting at 17 weeks along as I write this.
This has brought a whole new sense of love, adoration, inspiration and excitement. A surprising amount of positive feelings during a time that some would consider less-than-ideal to bare a child. I will be having, what's been called, a Covid baby. And I truly could not be more excited.
My excitement is brought on by a whole new life purpose, which I suppose many new parents feel. This past year has brought an overwhelming burden of heavy emotions. With recognizing the enhanced vulnerabilities of human culture and the lasting effects of self isolation, I often wondered how anyone could stay sane. I thought to myself "how I can live in a world of humans that feel so cold, cruel and selfish?" Or better yet, why would I want to continue living in a world like this? Now I have a different light to shed and a responsibility to hold. I look at things from a different perspective, a perspective of potential.
Zt: This is very exciting. I have tons of questions but before I ask you those I want to congratulate you!
The timing of your pregnancy I find very interesting as well as the term "Covid-baby" because it couldn't be any closer to the truth. As it does raise emotional, economic and even contagion concerns for many. However I think pregnancy speaks a lot more to the kinds of relationships that we are all having right now during this pandemic. It's interesting how we can verify our relationships by testing the bonds against the stresses of lock-down.
That kind of relationship trial seems as if it would produce many strong outcomes perhaps even enhanced vulnerability or even like reunification.
You nailed in on the head with all that you said. We are taking things as they come and learning as we go. We live in a town where we don't have any friends close by, so our level of "secluded" has been pretty continuous. I go to Portland once a month for work and that's about the most socialization I get.
(revisiting a visible-spiritual omission.)
Zt: Tell me about your relationship with your partner and the space that you two are creating against the odds of Covid? Do you two have siblings with children? If so how are they handling child rearing at the moment?
Vw: Austin sees the same person he works with every day. It's a pretty low-key life we have at the moment. Hiking on the weekends is what keeps us sane.
Both of us are the eldest of our siblings and none of them have any kids of their own. However, Austin has two younger sisters who are of grade School age and I have a friend with kids of similar ages. It has been interesting seeing how they have to juggle parenting, schooling, housework, cooking, working their full time jobs, etc. It's exhausting and overwhelming, even just to watch. It definitely raises thoughts on what things will be like when that time comes around for us. An odd thought too, considering how far in the future that truly is. Another point to show how unknown everything really has been.
It's been difficult for us on a connection part as well in some aspects. It's hard enough for him to understand the aspects of pregnancy since it's not something he can directly experience within himself. He is mostly watching as I go through this while being as supportive and understanding as he can. An important part in that togetherness for many is the appointment process, where couples get to ask their midwives (or whomever) questions, view the ultrasounds, see the heart beat, etc. Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to experience that, other than a brief moment over video chat. It has also been hard on me at times having to go to these appointments alone. Especially when my brain is foggy, having him there would be nice. Alas, we are just thankful he'll be able to join for the delivery.
Just, taking things as they come.
Zt: Beautiful. Can you tell me a little bit about your mother?
Vw: My mother is about 5' tall with blonde hair and blue eyes and is in her mid 50's. She grew up in the village of Walworth, Wisconsin, which is the same village (population of around 2,000) I was raised and lived most of my life. She lived a relatively similar life to me, partied hard her youth, dropped out of college but she had found herself in a job at a factory one day. This is the job she worked for almost 30 years until this past year where she and my father decided to take a leap and move to Florida. My brother had purchased them a home up the road from him. It has been an adjustment for them but the weather has been nice.
My mother cares for my father, who is disabled due to severe epilepsy. They got married when they was six months pregnant with me after only knowing each other for a short amount of time. A happy marriage would not best describe them but their longevity is impressive.
Growing up my mother and I didn't have a very good relationship. Most of my life I was left by the sidelines, neglected some would say. My brothers became the joy of her life once they arrived. I always felt as though she resented me, like I was the reason why she wasn't happy with her life. We fought often, rarely seeing eye to eye. Eventually, I recognized that she is just a person like myself. She didn't know what she was doing as a new mother and just did what she felt was right. After time, she apologized and we moved on. Though we aren't super close we talk on a regular basis and I'd say she's pretty alright and I definitely appreciate her.
Zt: I've had these situations with family and am very well acquainted with those energies and trauma's. I think this speaks to womanhood on a multitude of levels. Goodness. Motherhood/ womanhood as a sort of absolute space, that has in the last year been under attack by the pandemic and hegemonic enterprises. I think you described the city that you live in as unfamiliar, how do you envision this space in the next few years?
That's a really great question my mind is going a few different ways on how to answer that. Firstly, our lease is up in August so we actually plan on moving at that time. Our of this unfamiliar town that we have recently become more familiar and comfortable with. We will likely be moving to Eugene, which will bring a whole different environment experience compared to our current location. It's interesting how much can change within a 15 minute drive with culture, architecture and experience. Definitely plan to immerse myself in the community there more. I'm currently working on becoming a herbalist and plan to open a tea house with a focus around overall wellness and holistic healing. Being part of the community is really important to me and my direction with this is my focus on how I envision my environment to be within these next few years. We will see where life takes us from here.