Dashiell and I get along so well it’s maybe a little bit disgusting. I’ve never been treated so sweetly by a person, nor have I been with a person so willing to be doted upon. If we’re not telling each other how deeply we love with the other, it’s only because we just said it 14 times in a row and are taking a break, communicating it with our eyes instead.
For weeks we’ve been joking about what our first fight will be about. Here is my best guess at how the spat would go down: Dashiell would be depleted, maybe low blood sugar, and I would be, too. She’d be extra-sensitive and I’d be extra-spacey, and I’d say something thoughtless and hurt her feelings. Then I would feel SO BAD that I hurt her feelings that I’d begin to cry hysterically, making it all about me. Dashiell, hating to see me cry, would be very caring, and everything would get patched up and we would have tender make-up sex that would be just the littlest bit punishing.
This all sounded awesome to me and I began to wonder if we should fake a fight just to get to the sex and experience the bonding and catharsis that comes from working through a conflict. But me and Dashiell hate fighting!
I have long believed that a relationship where you didn’t snap at each other or walk on eggshells all day was possible, and Dashiell was the proof. But I guess all couples have fights, even PERFECT COUPLES like me and Dashiell!
THE SCENE: My bedroom. Dashiell is lying down, very tired from her day at the office. She also has PMS, but I don’t know this! I sit beside her.
THE TIME: Like, 10:30pm. Rhonda and Quentin are both late for insemination, and texts keep rolling in warning that they’ll be even later. This is stressful to Dashiell, who at the end of the hour-long Insemination Celebration will have to go home and walk Rodney before finally falling into bed.
THE FIGHT: Get ready to want to stab yourself in the cervix from boredom. Like all couples, we are about to fight about NOTHING. Everyone is going out of town for th weekend. I thought we’d drive with HER bestie, but Dashiell knew we were going with MY bestie, and thought I knew this, too. My confusion confused and overwhelmed Dashiell! Her ever-present Virgo vigilance toward helpfulness, responsibility and organization struggled beneath an oppressive cape of exhaustion and PMS!
Dashiell, whose speaking tones are always laden with butterflies and honey and kittens in baskets, SNAPS AT ME! As I pet her gently, cooing, “Don’t worry, I’ll sort it out,” Dashiell stops my hand and says, “Don’t do that, it’s condescending.”
I actually think she’s was joking, like how she sometimes turns to me sternly in a public place and says, “Do I know you? Why are you following me?” Or my other favorite, when at the end of a night out I begin walking towards her home and she says with a frown, “I’m sorry -- are you coming to my house? Don’t you think that’s a little presumptuous?”
She will also sometimes just run away from me in the street for no apparent reason. I love these jokes! So, upon my bed I freeze and say, “Huh whaaaa?” with a crooked smile on my face.
“I don’t like that,” Dashiell snaps again. “It feels condescending.”
Butterflies fall from the sky. Hives of honey dry up as bees die. Kittens tumble from their baskets.
“I’m sorry,” I think I say. ”I didn’t mean to be to be condescending.”
I flop down on top of her like I’ve been shot, burying my head in my pillow so she doesn’t see that I’ve immediately begun to bawl, because inside I am about five years old and burst into tears whenever anyone speaks to me harshly.
I lay there until my doorbell rings. I buzz Rhonda and Quentin in, then walk into the bathroom to clean myself up. Thankfully, now that I’m on meds I can’t actually STOP crying once I start, unlike the unmedicated years when I would just have to lock myself in the bathroom for about four hours until the sobbing subsided, and then need to smoke a pack of cigarettes to maintain my fragile equilibriam.
By the time Quentin and Rhonda walk into my apartment I’m composed, though my face looks red and puffy, like I just woke up. I stretch and yawn and make a performance of how I’d fallen asleep. Nothing makes you feel like a battered woman like covering up a fight with a LIE, but I’m still shaky and I don’t want to deal with it. I want to get inseminated and get my friends out my house so I can burst into tears again.
After Rhonda shoots me up, me and Dashiell lay side by side in my bed. This is when we’d be busting out the vibrator, but nothing sounds worse right now than an orgasm. We just lie there, not talking. I’ve never shared such a moment with Dashiell.
We’re in a fight! What will happen? How does Dashiell deal with fights? And how do I?
Traditionally I’ve had two conflict responses in my relationships. The first: respond in kind. You snap at me, I’ll snap at you. I get all high and mighty, like, I Will NOT Be Spoken To Like That! Think Joan Crawford, or Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction."
Alternately, I burst into my aforementioned sobs and am a martyr about it. Usually it is some combination of the two. But I don’t want to do either with Dashiell, and I don’t think that is our energy. After lying there for a moment I call for Rhonda and Quentin, who bound in excitedly.
Rhonda pushes Quentin to share with us the story of his first childhood talent show, when he roller-bladed to Cyndi Lauper’s "Time After Time" in a pair of leopard-print Capri-length TEAR AWAYS. This lifts my spirit for a moment, but then they leave and it is back to Sadsville.
“Do you want to talk?” Dashiell asks, and I start crying again. I guess I’m really triggered! I’ve been in relationships where I was spoken to in crummy tones like that all the time, and it was awful. My feelings got hurt all the time. I think part of me is afraid that I’ve crossed some sort of threshold with Dashiell – like, maybe my novelty has worn off and now I’m just someone annoying to snap at for the rest of our life.
“Do you still like me?” I ask, pathetic. She drapes herself over me in a full-body hug.
“Like you? I want to marry you!”
Well, this sure makes me feel insanely better, immediately! Dashiell said The M-word! Though I am sure I will obsess on this statement for the foreseeable future, I promise myself I’ll never, ever mention it. It’s not a proposal. It’s a sweet, honest and desperate blurt from Dashiell, who is now also crying!
“I never want to make you cry!” she says, tears streaming from her giant, tilty anime-eyes. I imagine Witch Baby in Weetzie Bat has eyes like Dashiell. They’re not violet like Witch Baby, but they are their own dreamy and unusual color.
“I never want to be condescending, or hurt your feelings!” I cry back. We keep hugging. It’s really sweet. We kiss our teary faces. Dashiell brings me a pint of Three Twins Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream from my freezer, so I don’t get up and disturb the sperm. She kisses me good night and leaves for home, texting me love texts along the way. I eat the rest of my feelings and fall asleep under a pile of cats.
The next morning is my phone consultation with the fertility clinic. I wait and wait for a call from Dr. Evangelista, and after 15 minutes I call the clinic myself.
“Oh, your appointment has been canceled,” the receptionist tells me.
“What?” I ask. “But why?”
“You never filled out the information on our web page,” the woman tells me. “I left you three messages about it.” She sounds annoyed, and I feel a surge of defensiveness.
But the reality is, I don’t answer my stupid phone. It always rings at inopportune moments. I intend to catch up on my voice mails while running my daily errands, but I often just gab with my sister or Rhonda instead. My voice mail is very neglected.
“Your web site wouldn’t let me move forward,” I whine. “I couldn’t get to the intake!” This part is true.
I realize, as I begin to cry, that I’m still feeling fragile from the night before. Oh, jeez. Emotions! The woman softens and admits that yes, their web portal sucks. I make another appointment with Dr. Evangelista and hang up. I spend the rest of the afternoon browsing the online sales at Barneys and Opening Ceremony.
I also pee on a lot of pee sticks, because I just can’t tell if my pee line is as dark as the control. I take a picture of the latest and text it out to my team. AM I OVULATING YET OR WHAT? I ask. The consensus is no, but that’s not going to stop us from inseminating, because we are going to COVER THE SPREAD!
NEXT WEEK: A birthday for Quentin! A visit from my sister!
ALSO: Hey, NYC readers! I’ll be at The Strand on March 24th, hosting a show I put together, featuring readings by Mary Gaitskill, Michael Cunningham, Tao Lin, Lorelei Lee, a sneak peek at the forthcoming Kathleen Hanna documentary, and more! It’s a benefit for the Radar LAB, the writers’ retreat I organize.