I wasn’t sure I wanted to have kids. It wasn’t one of those things on my list. But when Dawn and I got pregnant and I found out at the bus stop, I felt it inside me too, and I knew.
It was a reckless night of drinking around Christmas at a romantic, 200 year-old inn on the New Jersey/Pennsylvania border in a town called New Hope.
We started with cocktails, then a bottle of wine with dinner. I got some kind of shellfish stew and when it came, one of the components was still moving, a white finger stroking the air, calling for help. I laughed and jumped right in: isn’t that funny? It’s still moving!
When Dawn worked on the boat in Alaska, they ended the night with a B&B. She described it to me, warmed Brandy and Benedictine in a snifter. And so we had one with dessert, and then discovered something called The Honor Bar, back in the lobby at the inn.
The Honor Bar was an open cache of mini bottles of booze with a basket for donations. The honor was you being honest about what you took. I tried Scotch for the first time, and didn’t put any money in the basket. An act of intercourse followed in the room, and because I didn’t want the party to end, I placed an order for a bottle of champagne to be delivered around 8:45 to our room, the next morning.
The drive home was hard: the road follows the Delaware River with many tight turns and 20 MPH zones. We stopped at my grandparent’s house, which was always too warm and stuffy, and then home to my mom’s. I was starved, unable to eat all day, but all they had in the refrigerator was spiced cheese curds, and so I ate them in handfuls, standing.
The sickness got so profound that my step-dad summoned the J Collis Browne mixture, a substance that members of the Velvet Underground abused, according to a recent Google search.
But that night yielded our first real thought of parenting, which led to expedited wedding plans, which carried on in spite of the fact that the baby didn’t.
The Life Transfer starts as you see yourself living on, through your kids. It’s not a loss or a gain per se; I see it as a transfer. I want to relive my favorite memories of childhood, and make them better for my kids.
The Halloween my dad thrashed about with fake blood on his beard and chains, in bed, for my friends: that was the kind of dark humor imprint I am stamping on mine, now.
The times we bundled up on the toboggan and flew down the hillside with the spray of snow in our faces…memories weren’t recorded then the way they are now. They’re impressionist watercolors, better less-defined.
Saying goodbye to my step-dad in the dialysis center in Germany five years ago now, the exchange of love and tenderness and the acknowledgment of all there is to say that can’t. He hangs on in our dreams; we hang on to one another, and remember.
Dawn turns 44 next week; Charlotte just turned 6. The days fold over themselves like socks in a drawer, like pages in a book. You can’t feel how much is left and it’s probably better that way.