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Kind of a big deal, Part 5

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

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…)

Think Again

I’ve spent today in kind of a daze. I got up much earlier than usual, started work much earlier than usual and worked hard all day long in twenty-degree weather. Barely two hours before I was done, one of the wheels popped off my suitcase.

In one of my other lives I’m a traveling sales girl. Kind of how Johnny Cash started out, except instead of selling vacuum cleaners, or whatever it was he sold, I go door-to-door selling holistic pet products. I’m not a very good sales person. I’m not aggressive enough. When someone says “no”, I smile and say “Thank you! Sorry to bother you!” and then I rush away, horrified. It’s all very awkward. Being that this is Manhattan and I don’t own a car, I work my job on foot. I carry my samples in a suitcase with wheels, which I drag around on the subways, the busses, and over miles and miles of sidewalk. It weighs almost forty pounds. The original wheels lasted three months before they completely disintegrated. Mike replaced them with wheels from his skates, which he made me swear I would not lose should one come loose, because they cost two hundred dollars to replace. That was last month. Today, in the middle of an intersection, the bracket that held the left wheel in place snapped in half and the wheel went spinning off behind me. I managed to catch it, but I still had four stores to visit and now I would have to drag the suitcase along with one of its wheels in my pocket.

I would just like you to take a moment and picture me, bundled up to my eyeballs in fleece and wool, dragging a one-wheeled suitcase down a busy New York street. The sound of the bottom corner dragging on the pavement was so loud that every single person I passed had to crane their head around and glare at me as if my one-wheeled suitcase was somehow offensive to them. At one point I thought it would be easier to just carry the thing but it turns out forty pounds is really heavy.

It had been one of those days and by the end of it, I was exhausted. It was only 5 p.m. but I knew I would spend the rest of the night on the couch, feeling sorry for myself and wishing we had ice cream while I watched old episodes of Law & Order. My night was ruined.

I curled up on the sofa with my laptop. Valentine climbed onto my lap and I propped the computer on her comma-shaped body. Theo folded himself against me and two feet away, Mike sat in his studio working on a still life. I opened my homepage and Amelia, perched behind me, began performing her ritual evening bath. Under the melody of Guided by Voices I could hear Toby’s tags singing against his water bowl in the kitchen.

That’s when I found out. Suddenly my night felt like something to be grateful for.

May our prayers, hopes and dreams be for the people of Haiti.