I was standing in a crowd of people that all smelled a little like sweat and a lot like beer when he said “Hey, how the hell are you?” And I smiled the “Oh wow, I haven’t seen you since high school” smile.
We exchanged some “You look greats” and a few “What have you been up to” kind of questions when I started to feel my cheeks get flushed. There are obligatory “you look fantastic”s and then there are the kind that you can dish out to someone you knew long ago in a meaningful way. These were definitely the kind of compliments that can make a gal stammer but not the kind that make you feel like you’re being hit on.
He leaned against the wall and suddenly the crowd of people seemed to be gone. I got all antsy and took a big swig of water just for something to do. I could remember seeing that smile in the hallway when we were young and thinking I wish I had known him better because he always looked like he knew a funny secret. He grinned and said “Just water for you, huh?” and I smiled and gestured to my pregnant belly and somehow he managed to say in a way that didn’t sound like bullshit “oh wow, I hadn’t even noticed.”
And he hugged me and I felt like my whole body was on fire. Like if I held on just a little longer I might know the secret that made him smile, too. It was awkward when I let go and I said “I better be careful, I am a pro at making a scene” and my eyes welled up with tears inexplicably. He smiled and hugged me again, dipped me like a movie star.
“Me, too.” he said. And that smile again.
“Who cares about the scene, huh?” and I laughed. “You just get this one life, right?”
“Oh, I know that. But do you?”
And I woke up. That kind of wide awake from a dream where you turn to see if your alarm clock had gone off and then are surprised to find it is the middle of the night. My first conscious thought was that I was going to blush when I saw him next. And I rolled over and reached for MQD and he wasn’t in bed. In the same breath I realized that MQD was gone (likely he had fallen asleep on the couch) but that the boy that made me blush and suggested that I was the one that needed to remember that we have just this one life had passed away a little over two years ago.
Analysis of one’s dreams is the height of navel-gazing in my book. But this one really got me. “You just get this one life” is my standard advice. Why was I having it handed back to me?
I have remarked recently on the fearlessness with which MQD and I have taken this Marriage Bull by the horns. I am, by nature, not one to take kindly to change. I stay put. It’s the Taurus in me, perhaps, that doesn’t want to give up combined with the laziness that is bred of insecurity. But lately I have made great strides in that department. For years it scared me to say out loud that I wanted something, the good old “don’t try and you never fail” hadn’t served me so well in my twenties. By thirty I had so little to lose it seemed like a good idea to start wishing and trying.
Five years later I am trying and wishing my ass off.
MQD is a do-er not a talk-er. It is inspiring. I talked and talked about a baby that I wanted so desperately. And science be damned, I think he made this baby happen. Because he gets things done. We sat up late nights and laughed and drank wine and planned on getting married “someday” and it was MQD that put on our shared google calendar “Go ring shopping.” I fell in love with a house and five days later he had a mortgage broker, a real estate agent and a plan.
Sometimes I feel like I am riding the coattails of his actions. They may be our dreams but much of the time it his actions that get the ball rolling. If pressed he’d tell me that my belief in him and my support is crucial to him having the courage to take these big steps. We have a pretty perfect marital synergy in that respect.
So when I found myself sitting on the floor Sunday afternoon with my head in my hands, big fat tears rolling down my face I realized what it was that I wasn’t letting myself do. That advice about how you only get one life? That is just one of my inner mantras. The other I have adopted in the last five years is the simple “fake it ’til you make it.” It seems I have gotten a little too good at the latter.
It is so important to me to identify and reach for my dreams these days. And in order to do that I need to feel positive and capable. So I have focused extra hard on the “fake it” part, and believe it or not I have “made it.” I feel good almost all of the time.
But in doing so I was failing to let myself feel afraid. I just crammed it all back down so I could keep reaching for the next milestone, keep dreaming bigger. Maybe what my dream visitor was encouraging me to do was to go ahead and voice my fear? I am not sure yet if that is what he was telling me to do… but I know that after I said it all out loud I felt better. So, I thought I’d better write it all down before I lose the courage it takes to be afraid.
I am terrified. I am afraid I won’t be able to love this baby as much as I love Emily. I am afraid I won’t be able to love MQD as much as I do now once I have to share my heart with the baby and Em. I am afraid MQD will resent me not bringing in the income I am now. I am afraid that it will be five more years before I feel like myself inside my body and that I will be forty god damn years old next time I lose the “baby weight.” I am afraid that I will repeat the mistakes I made in my last marriage. I am afraid because it is all happening so fast and it is what I wanted so desperately. What if I get what I have always said I wanted and I am still blue?
This weekend I came up with a bunch of questions and very few answers. I’m still not sure if I am taking full advantage of “this one life.” But I am present. And I am feeling. Even the shitty hormonal-pregnant-putting my baby on a school bus feelings. I am even feeling those. And I feel pretty okay. The one answer that I managed to come up with that I completely believe is the one that will tide me over for a while. I sent MQD a text on Sunday post meltdown “I am scared, but in my “not crazy” mind I know we have what it takes.”
I went to sleep last night with the kind of burning eyes you can only get from a good cry. And it felt good. And I slept hard.