Breathing Room



J gets home from work yesterday and asks me about the bee sting.  I went out at noon for a walk and half a block away from my house I felt something hit me under my left eye, so hard I thought it was a pebble.  Instinctively I closed my eyes, grabbed at the spot where it hurt, and my fingers clasped a small body:  a bee.  I crushed it without a second thought, then felt bad because I didn’t want to kill the poor thing, then remembered they die without their stingers anyway so I shouldn’t worry about it.  I continued my walk even though my eye hurt and I kept thinking a sane person would take this as a sign that walking was a bad idea, a sane person would go home and check their eye, take it easy.  I walked another fifteen minutes away from my house and then turned around, went home, washed my face, squeezed the bee stinger out of the growing lump underneath my eye like I was a teenager popping zits in front of the mirror.  I tell J the bee sting is fine, it only hurts a little now.  She says it looks like I have a black eye.  I tell her the first rule of Fight Club is to never talk about Fight Club.

In the afternoon she had her official pregnancy test at the IVF clinic and it came back positive which is what we expected since she took a couple of tests on her own in the previous days and they were also positive.  They also did bloodwork at the clinic and they noticed that a certain hormone level was lower than they wanted it to be.  I thought J would be happy about the positive test but instead she is now stressing about the hormone level, hGC, which should ideally be somewhat higher than it is now.  I ask what it is and she gives me a number and we google it and it’s OK.  But if it’s not about 30% higher on Friday, it could be a problem.  This particular hormone rises as days pass after pregnancy.  J will get more bloodwork on Friday to check.

I cook dinner and we eat quickly and then go for a walk together and it’s pleasant, mid seventies, not too humid.  I ask what she’s looking forward to the most about being a mom.  The cuteness, she says.  I ask if there’s anything else and she says she hasn’t thought that far ahead.  I say that I’m surprised — she’s wanted to be a mom her whole life and it’s finally coming true and there aren’t any other things she’s looking forward to?  The cuteness?!?! She says she’ll tell me more later, she has to think about it.  She asks me what I’m looking forward to and I say your happiness, which, I realize, is true.

Today I think of other reasons.  A kid will distract me as I age, give me someone else to think about, someone else to love, someone else to guide.  It will be interesting to see who the kiddo takes after — me or J.  Fun to watch them develop into a real person.  I’ll have more in common with certain people in my life — the other people who are also parents — my cousins, some of my friends.  Kids are also a marker of mature adulthood — I would never have a kid only for this reason but there is something to it — other people treat you differently when you are a parent — it is, potentially anyway, a sign of status.  My parents will be thrilled.  This is assuming my mother gets better instead of worse.  I’d like for her to have an opportunity to be a healthy grandparent.

After our walk it’s almost dark out and I’m agitated for some reason — I’m not tired enough, I realize.  I tell J I’m going to work on the basement project where I am slowly finishing an empty room so we can use it as bonus space.  I have a bottle of wine down there and I drink two glasses in quick succession even though I know I shouldn’t — I’ve had issues with alcohol in the past.  I eat plain tortilla chips to cover some of the smell and I get to work for an hour and a half listening to Porcupine Tree.  I realize I am mildly high.  I mud bits of drywall together and my technique becomes sloppy, I begin to not give a shit about anything, there is a loosening of sorts internally, something about being physical while drunk makes me feel like overcooked spaghetti.  It’s pleasant.  It’s the best I’ve felt all day.

My brother didn’t contact me yesterday about the state of my mother until close to 9, when I was cleaning up from the work in the basement.  He tells me that it was another trying day but they made it through, my mom has some baseline of okay-ness and wasn’t threatening suicide and they have another PCP appointment on Monday.  I dread my phone now, dread the rings and the texts.  When it started going off in the basement, the dings that indicate someone is sending me messages, I immediately tensed, wondered what the fuck is it now.  I read them and I thank my brother for the care he is providing my mom and I hope he doesn’t bother me any more.

When I’m showered I go downstairs and J is on the couch and we put on an episode of Severance, the Apple TV show about a group of people who, when they go to work, cannot remember their real lives, and vice versa.  Their work lives and their so-called real lives are severed:  They are in effect two different people.  I thought that the series would be more of an exploration of — I don’t know, work life balance?  I thought it would be character driven — I thought there would be serious philosophical themes about work and its proper place in our lives.  Instead it is becoming different.  Strange cults, organizations that do questionable things.  Plot-driven.  It feels a little like Stranger Things where there is an Upside Down world that is mysterious and beckons with intrigue.  Except instead of the Upside Down world it’s a nefarious corporation’s office headquarters and the intrigue is designed to come from wondering what the fuck management there is actually up to.  The show is good and slickly produced but also fails to consistently grab me.   I disengage from the television periodically as I sit on the couch with my phone on the arm and J next to me and I think about the next steps in the basement project and whether or not I am going to install heat pumps in the house and I wonder when did I get so boring, and then I realized my wondering about my boringness is also boring and cliched.  Dozens of Geico commercials now exist on this subject, getting older, becoming your parents.  I have no original thoughts.  We are all the same.  Somehow these commercials have invalidated my own feelings, transformed them into trivial banalities, and I suddenly think that it’s inappropriate somehow to have feelings at all.  Feelings are reserved for television characters, actors in commercials, celebrities.

After Severance I give J a shot in her ass, some cocktail of hormones prescribed by the IVF clinic.  I do this every other day now and it will continue for another two months.  They make her breath smell weird, spicy and unpleasant somehow, and I have to sleep facing away from her so it doesn’t bother me.  I wonder if she is aware of this.  I wonder if she thinks I am intentionally ignoring her.  I usually like to press myself all over her, as tightly as I can, until I am half asleep but I can’t on the nights she takes these drugs.  The last shot I gave her hit the main nerve in her glut by accident.  She felt numb down the leg for the night and didn’t sleep well and the feeling didn’t go away until last night.  She blamed me, I blamed myself.

I slept like trash despite falling asleep exhausted.  Probably I woke up because of the wine.  It’s well understood that alcohol messes with sleep quality.  In the middle of the night, wide awake, I listen to J breathe and think about, in no particular order, the baby growing inside of her, drywall taping the ceiling in the basement, the meetings I have at work the next day, my sick mother, punching Elon Musk in the face, and manifesting lots and lots of cuteness.  I think about how not once has cuteness been a motivating factor for me in the whole “let’s have a baby” project.  I think about how different this person next to me is and feel a sense of astonishment that we are as happy as we are together.

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