In the summer of 2008, with my clock ticking like crazy and both of us trying really hard to avoid each other in an apartment twelve footsteps from the front door to the back wall, we had a fight unlike any fight in the history of all fights.
Mike and I are not violent people. He accuses me of being a yeller, but I point out that in fact I grew up with three older siblings and the only way to ever be heard was to talk loudly. I am a passionate speaker, I argue, not a yeller. So while I may speak passionately on occasion, Mike and I had always lived a life of quiet harmony. Until the morning of The Fight.
We were living in a tiny, crummy, roaches-in-the-walls Hells Kitchen tenement. It was July. If you’ve never been to New York in July, imagine a swamp of impenetrable stinking, moist, greasy tar. That is New York City in July. It was seven o’clock in the morning. I was awake because I hadn’t been to sleep and Mike was awake because I’d woken him up, hysterical. I was screaming and sobbing and accusing while he held up his hands, don’t shoot. It was all very dramatic and very frightening and for months afterward I wondered what our neighbors must think. I said I was angry about one thing but it turned out I was angry about something else entirely. When I left that morning he thought I was leaving for good. He told me that, later, when we were curled on the sofa with tea. It made me cry. No, I said, his face in my hands and my tears on his cheeks. Till death do us part.
A few weeks later we were sitting on a therapists couch and I don’t remember how we got to it but she looked at us in shock as she realized we’d never really talked about having children. It turns out it’s a very big deal to not talk about something. It turns out the Fight of all Fights could have been avoided entirely if only we’d talked about the one thing we were afraid to talk about. There is a lesson to be learned here: TALK. COMMUNICATE. LISTEN. TALK SOME MORE. Take it from me. I almost learned the heartbreaking way.
We still argue when we talk about babies. Mike argues that babies are clusters of cells that start out very much like tumors and later become small aliens with ideas and theories and philosophies all their own while I argue that babies are lovely little pink giggling things who’s cheeks I want to eat and who’s pants might need changing but oh my goodness did you see that dimple? We still argue but thanks to a nice stint in marriage counseling we now argue about whether or not babies are made of biological material or angel dust and the arguing is something that happens over dinner and wine and handholding. And do you know what we did on a date the other weekend?
WE BOUGHT A BOOK ABOUT BABIES.
Then we started reading it.
To be continued…. (For the last time all ready…)