B. and I escaped out of the city this weekend. We borrowed back the car we gave to his brother (after his dad gave it to us) and drove to a tiny cabin tucked among mountain foothills with the world’s best diner 4 minutes away and a little mini kitchen to cook in and somehow all of this within budget. It snowed, and was bone chilling freezing, but I made a beef stew and we tucked into that little cabin and napped when we were tired and had sex when we wanted each other and ate food when we were hungry. After two and half days of this I woke up on Monday with sun hitting pine trees and snow, a layer of ice on the window, and flames heating the space of the bed from behind the gas stove’s glass door, and I felt a bone deep contentment that made me understand what it truly means to be rested.
And then, on the way home, we got in a fight. It began when we were approaching the GW after taking a wrong turn that cost us 20 minutes in both directions. The fight began with talk to paint the kitchen, and by the time we were in Bed Stuy we were talking about where we wanted to live in two years and discovering it was not the same place.
Immediately after that discovery, we had to pick up his brother’s newly ex-girlfriend, drive her back to our neighborhood, leave her with the car, and then B. had to hurry to an appointment in the city, and we had to put the whole fight on hold.
Which was definitely a good thing.
I’m wondering what it’s going to be like to fight in front of this babe; our future child who will indeed be able to both hear and see. How does one do that in a healthy way? In my world, there were not two parents, there was just my mother and me and I did not have to witness her negotiate the business of parenting with anyone else. It was her way and her word that led us. My grandmother was the other adult in my life; not there daily, but for many years I slept at her house a few times a week, and every single vacation was spent with her. But their arguments, infrequent, were different. My grandmother did not question any of my mother’s parenting decisions, rather when they moved into tense tones it was about the past, and that didn’t happen often because my grandmother carefully avoided the past’s tender spots. On those occasions when my mother insisted they get into it, I submerged myself into a book so completely that no sounds reached me. Truly. My uncle was once visiting and spoke to me directly, calling my name three or four times without me hearing until he gave up and left alone on our planned venture to the pool. I can still make this escape as an adult, though it’s harder. Back then, I often read books that were too old for me, and now, when I want to slip away, I read books that are too young. (Always the teaching excuse–I have to be up on what my students are reading.) But they’re familiar to me, soothing, a corner to tuck into when the outside world presses in too fiercely.
And so, will our child have to do this? Find escapes?
I can be cruel in arguments because I love the feeling of righteous anger; barbed words rolling from my tongue like jacks. Sometimes I’m calm until the apology comes and only then does the anger flicker on and it’s not easy for me to willingly walk away from that heat because the heat feels too good. Leaves me feeling too powerful.
(Oy, this winter–the skin on my cheek bones suddenly rough from, I guess, the wind and sun and cold of our mountain walks, and the skin on my butt cheeks rough from, I guess, the general business of living. I would like to be coated with shea butter and sat down in a sauna until softened.)
B. and I reunited later in the evening. And we talked it out over food at the diner (not as perfect as our mountain diner, but still good) because our kitchen is a disaster. And then we kept talking it out on the way home; our frustrations sparking then dimming. And then to the couch. Finally I cried in that good way that comes with telling the truth. It put out the self-righteous embers. He did that thing where he smiles. We apologized. At one point, he looked up, startled, that the babe had been hearing all of it (because it can now; can hear our voices and other sounds), had heard us being angry and sarcastic and frustrated. And what could I say other than that it was hearing us then too, being sweet and kind and forgiving.
I still can’t shake it though; how weird it will be to have another human being witnessing me being ridiculous, having a temper, making mistakes. It took me years to be willing to let B. know all these things about me, and he chose me. This babe is going to be assigned me.
Over the weekend B. was pulling into the snowy parking lot when he turned to me, and said, “Wanna get married and start a family?” And I thought, Start a family? Yes, but whoa. And then I laughed.
“What?” he asked.
And I told him. For that moment, I had totally forgotten that I was pregnant.