As loud as I wanted
Everything is happening at lightning speed. I have to get back to writing it down, or I’ll forget. One morning, you wake up and you’re 33 years old, with two dogs and a spouse and a refrigerator full of esoteric vermouths and amari, and the next morning, you wake up and you’re 34 years old, with two dogs, a spouse, and a 12-week-old child in a bouncy chair on the floor in front of the refrigerator. The other day at a doctor’s checkup, I actually told the nurse that I was 33, because I forgot that I’d had a birthday. 33, 34, same thing. In any case, I’m still a baby when I get a shot.
We are beginning to find moments of normalcy. On Monday, we put June in the car and drove to Vancouver to see Bruce Springsteen in concert. He played "Cover Me," and it was sufficiently deafening that I could sing along as loud as I wanted without worrying that anyone would hear. I also ate a hot dog with yellow mustard. It was outstanding. June stayed back at the hotel with our friends Katie and Kyle and slept through the entire show. Someday, when she’s moaning about how ancient and uncool and deaf we are, I’ll tell her about the days when we were seeing Springsteen and sacrificing our hearing and she was drooling shamelessly all over a borrowed hotel playpen.
Twice now, Brandon and I have gone on dates. Real dates, without a small person around. Of course, these dates are on Sundays, at lunchtime, and Brandon goes to work afterward. The first time, we went out to lunch at The Whale Wins. (The sardine toast with curried tomato mayonnaise and shaved fennel! The whole roasted trout with brown butter and walnut sauce! The brownie! Eric Bordelet’s pear cider!) Then we went to see the new James Bond movie, which was exciting, except that we failed to note that the movie would end after the babysitter was expecting us home, and that meant that we were those people, the ones who trip on your purse while climbing over you and tiptoe sheepishly out of the theater with twenty minutes left. The second time, we went out to lunch again, and after having three-quarters of a glass of Champagne, I fell asleep in the car on the way back to our neighborhood. When I woke up, we were parked in the lot outside the grocery store, where we were supposed to be doing our Thanksgiving shopping, and over in the driver’s seat, Brandon was now sleeping. We are pros at sleeping in parked cars. Who knew? This past Tuesday, I had a fabulous nap in a parking lot on Granville Island, with cars roaring across the bridge over my head, while Brandon and June explored the market.
June looks exactly like Brandon when she smiles, and the rest of the time, or most of it, she looks like me. Early the other morning, in our hotel room in Vancouver, I heard her start to fuss in her playpen-slash-crib, and when I bent down to pick her up, she let out a tiny gleeful scream and I could see, even in the dark, that she was grinning at me. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over the fact that she exists - except when she’s having a flamboyant meltdown like she did yesterday afternoon while we attempted to take a walk, and then I am pretty sure that I will definitely, without a doubt, never ever get over it.
When we were first thinking about having a baby, I read Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions - there’s an Anne Lamott book for every phase of my life! Such a consolation! - and a couple of days ago, I decided to reread it. There’s so much that she gets right. "Before I got pregnant with Sam," she writes on page 60, "I felt there wasn’t anything that could happen that would utterly destroy me. . . . Now there is something that could happen that I could not survive: I could lose Sam. I look down into his staggeringly lovely little face, and I can hardly breathe sometimes. He is all I have ever wanted, and my heart is so huge with love that I feel like it is about to go off. At the same time, I feel that he has completely ruined my life, because I didn’t used to care all that much."
Sometimes when I’m driving, because I do all of my thinking (and now, sleeping) in the car, I think about Tina and my dad, all the people June will never meet. You’d think I’d be used to it, now that Burg has been gone for ten years next week, but grief always catches me off guard. I can’t believe that June will never know my dad; that she’ll never get one of his scratchy, bracing, beard-forward kisses; that he will never have the opportunity to forget her birthday, something he was always so good at. And then I think about the fact that June will never really think of my mother as a twin. I just can’t believe she’ll never know The Twins. Brandon tells me almost every day that he sees them in her, and that makes it a little better.
It feels good to come back to this space. It never fails me. Thank you, always, always, for reading.
P.S. This song. (With thanks to my friend Brian for pointing it out.) Stevie wins again.