Jesus Christ, there are babies EVERYWHERE.
And, they are out with their dads. Cute, scruffy Mission dudes with babies slung all over them like messenger bags. A row of dads drinking coffee and pushing strollers, chatting it up on Valencia. The Mission is New dad central, and Dashiell and I look at them with a mixture of longing and inspiration.
“I can’t wait for those weekends when you get to sleep in and I take the baby out for a walk,” says Dashiell, already practiced at early-morning walks with Rodney. I love thinking of sweet, handsome, rosy-cheeked Dashiell with a baby strapped to him, nodding hello at the other dads, making some light dad acquaintances.
There is something romantic about me lolling around in bed while this happens. The other morning I opted, for the first time, to not leave the house with Dashiell in the morning but instead sleep in, lolling around in bed until I slowly woke up to work on my computer alongside Rodney, who also had a hefty workload that day -- protecting us from the construction workers in the backyard.
There is something about being in a space haunted by a person when they’re not there, another way of feeling close to them. I loved moving Dashiell’s clothes around, hanging his towel, picking an orange blossom from a tree in the yard and sticking it in a bottle on the windowsill. Writing a love note to leave in the pocket of his new shirt.
I can imagine this with a kid around; getting to lie in our bed in our home’s sweet stillness, Dashiell out with the kid, both of them bursting back inside in a clamor, rising me from the bed. It’s so sweet! I just have to get pregnant and make it happen.
It’s time to inseminate, and my Clomid hasn’t arrived. I haven’t asked Dirk when I can expect it because I don’t want to keep bugging him. It’s coming from overseas, maybe it takes forever? Why does everything take so goddamn long?
On the night of the first insemination Dashiell can’t be there -- he’s got Bill Cosby tickets. That’s right -- Bill Cosby. I’m busy too, having been asked to speak at an artist’s colony on the occasion of their 30th birthday. The colony is over in Marin and, being drivers license-less, they are sending a CAR for me! That sounds fancy.
I plan for Quentin and Rhonda to come over with just enough time to let me lay there with the sperm in me and then run down to the car. Poor Quentin is so tired! He was up til 4 in the morning being a drag queer, and then had to get up at 9 am to run a batch of his sperm to the clinic for testing! He said he kept the sperm in his pocket.
It is so nice to laze around on pillows with my hips gently angled and not heave myself into wonked shoulder stands anymore! It’s much more elegant. The car service rings me 20 minutes into my insemination, they’re right downstairs.
“Uh, I’m going to need 10 more minutes,” I tell the driver, looking down at myself in my underwear. I beg Rhonda to come to the event with me, and she does. We spend the evening chowing down on fancy cheese and looking at really cool art.
By the way, there’s a whole new way of warming the bowl, now. Rhonda stuffs it into her shirt and warms it against her belly! It’s pretty cute. She strolls around my apartment looking like a pregnant lady during the chit-chat period of the insemination gathering, and then whips it out, all warm from her tummy. I’ve tried to do it but get impatient, plus it’s so cold!
I like to bring it over to my 1965 space heater, the one that looks like it’s about to burst into flames but it’s already so OLD, I think if it was going to burst into flames it would have by now and is actually one of the safer space heaters around! Anyway, I like to put the Pyrex up against the glowing orange grate and warm it that way. I suppose a hair dryer would work, too.
Two nights later, Quentin comes over straight from his first literary reading – at City Lights, no less! Such an auspicious start! He is published in an anthology that had a book party that evening. Dashiell is red and teary, having forgotten to take her allergy medicine. The cats, sensing her weakness, climb right up onto her. Rhonda’s movie is getting out too late for her to join us.
“Oh, did you check your email?” Quentin asks. “I sent you my results.”
The sperm results! This is almost as exciting as my Clomid coming -- which, it has not. I want the Clomid to get here because I want to take it, obviously, but also so I know that I actually gave all my credit information to an actual, legitimate business and not some sort of scam that charged me $40 to steal my identity. I go to my computer and pull up Quentin’s results.
From what I gather, comparing his results to the standard, he’s above average. Quentin! Above average in EVERY way!
“That’s so great!” I cheer. Even though people say that the dude’s sperm needs to be checked for potency too, I was never worried about Quentin. He’s a virile, healthy 28-year-old. I know that if there is anything physical preventing this pregnancy from happening, it’s on my side.
“My doctor wants to call and talk to me about it, though,” He says, sounding worried. “I don’t know why.”
“She probably just wants to make sure you understand what it all means,” I shrug. “It is sort of complicated. “But from what I can tell, it’s awesome!”
We get to inseminating me before Dashiell goes into anaphylactic shock. I’ve sort of fallen off with the eating. After gaining 14 pounds and no longer being able to fit into some of my favorite clothes, I thought I should put the brakes on. Even my sister, who is always trying to fatten me up, said I can cool it.
But my Not Otherwise Specified Eating Disorder has two settings -- Binge and Skimp. I know how to pig out, and I know how to forget to eat. So now I’m back to zooming through my day on the computer and the clock suddenly hitting 5pm and I’ve eaten nothing but a handful of almonds. Sadly, I feel rad! HELLO LOW BLOOD SUGAR, MY OLD FRIEND…..
The day before my 41st birthday, I get the weirdest phone call. It’s Dashiell! Dashiell has NEVER called me on the phone! Not unless you count that one time when he first got my number and then accidentally dialed it when he was trying to send me a text asking me on a date. He was so scared to text after that because he thought I’d think he’s a creep! But I didn’t even know he’d called because I ignore my phone so thoroughly.
But this time Dashiell’s number is programmed into my cell, and when it rings a foxy little picture of him pops up on my screen. I answer gingerly, as if it is a serial killer.
“Hi.” Dashiell’s sexy voice sounds even sexier over the phone, because it’s isolated. My other senses aren’t distracted by all the other ways he’s so sexy.
“Wow, it’s your voice,” I say.
“I know. Listen, I need you to buzz me into your house, and then go in your kitchen and shut the door. And stay there until I tell you to come out.”
“Uh – okay.” This is all so mysterious! “Um, bye?”
“Bye,” he says, and his sexy voice is clicked away. My doorbell is connected to my cell phone, so when it rings again I buzz him in, unlock my apartment door and go sit in the kitchen. Or not sit. More, like, bounce. Excitement is rising and falling inside me, like a carnival ride. There is a knock at the door, and I crack it open.
“You can come out now.”
In my bedroom is a tree. It is a squat tree, but it is a real tree, and a heavy tree. There are fat, yellow lemons hanging from it. It’s a lemon tree! A miniature lemon tree! A miniature Meyer lemon tree! Something I’ve wanted since I moved into my apartment a year ago. It’s leaves are dark and shiny and I can’t believe there’s already fruit on it! We find a place for it and sit it on a towel, watching the cats investigate.
“I don’t know if it will live inside a house,” Dashiell cautions, “But if it starts to die we’ll bring it to my mom’s. She can save any plant.”
And with that we start head off on my birthday trip to Arcata.
NEXT WEEK: I’m 41!