Tuesday, April 16, 2013

In April

Gavin, Raylan, Cole, Aiden, Connor. These are the names we've talked about. I've been taking turns calling the son in her belly by each, and she laughs at me each time. She laughs, but we ruled out a few that way in less than six hours. She is beautiful when she laughs, and shakes her head, ducking eyes and chin in denial of being called beautiful. Bulbous she says. Beautiful, I say, only more so with the son of many names in her belly.
Last night on the phone she told me she loves me. We'd hung up, and I'd whispered in the darkness and continued to drive. Then she called me back, her voice rich with confession and fear. The same voice I'd heard just a few mornings before with news that could take the shine off any new penny. I tensed, and I waited, while the darkness raced away above and ahead of me for eons, and she said “I love you”.
These are not the same woman. Both have a baby in their belly, one might be mine, the other definitely not. To say that I am lost would be a lie, I know exactly where I am. Sitting in a room, in a falling down house, drinking beer and smoking. Miles from a woman I loved, full up with a son that is either mine, or not. More miles from a woman I love increasingly, her body more stranger than friend to mine, also pregnant. I am also terrified.
I could raise a son, a half of divided parents who still like one another but who burned love down and pissed in it's ashes. I could love a woman having a child not my own, her child a part of her I could love as well. I do not know if I can do both of these things at once.
The past year has plumbed the depths of my strength, and found the places where I fail. Where I draw into myself, and cannot get the work done. Where I slob for a time, or drink, or simply sit and think too much. I found those places on my own, fighting to keep a relationship that had turned to poison, and sacrificing a business, and anyone who wasn't her. I found the place where I scream insults, and the terrifying moment where she puts her arms over her head and cries “Don't hit me!” when that was the last thing on my mind but only I knew that. I built a library of things to play over in my head, and wish and hate and fear about and at. All that, I found under the weight of just me, just fading love, just a terminally ill family member, just a business, just two-thousand acres of ruin. And now, here I stand, about to have a son. In love with a woman who is growing full and luminous with child of her own. Every waking breath is full of fear, and every sleeping dream full of twisted apparitions that bring waking.
We'll find out the paternity in three days, or five. Friday, or Monday, when the results come in the mail. When I'll know if the son in her belly is mine as well. For months now, all five months, I've prayed in that hobbled way atheists do, that it was mine. For reasons of faith, in myself above all others, and reasons of deep primal urges. The same urges that sang high when I emptied myself deep within her, shriek and wave in monkey-like demand of satisfaction. Because I have never let go of anything, without leaving deep claw marks in it. And now, for all that, I am desperate in my hope that it is his instead. My best friend, her man now. I want the names she and I discussed to be not my decision now, but his. I am ripped down the middle by fear, and love, and desire. I am the anti-Buddhist in this, moved by all the desire of the kingdoms of men, and all the fear it breeds. And I am not lost, I am right here.

On the train headed home now. Watching the city I love roll away, and knowing I'll never be here for any of the same reasons again. Two years ago she moved up here, rich with the beginnings of a car full of belongings and sunshine on new walls. Two years now, and I'm moving on. I was never here, in the ways I should have been, and never there like I needed to be. Two years torn between living. Riding this train back and forth, and now riding it away. It's not that last time I'll ride, and not the last time I'll be here, but the last time for any of the old reasons. The sun is high and bright, the air clearer than yesterday, and I am clean as I've ever been.
The baby in her belly is not mine. We got word late in the day, yesterday, and I felt the line go taught and then rip away. The last hold between the great love of my middle twenties and wherever it is I'm going now. I cried, and left four knuckle made cracks in the doorframe, and then I joyed and shook loose and clean. I bought whiskey, and smoked cigars, and spoke into the darkness and light of miles of copper and fiber. I told the far away woman, also growing and beautiful, that I was loose upon the stones, and headed her way.
Going through old writing, I found a poem I'd forgotten from years ago. And I'd written there about the pack I've worn on my back, the last seven years now. It was newer then, less taken to the ends and depths of everything, and at the time so very empty. It's been filled, and emptied, and torn and sewn again and again since then, and now it has been replaced. Two days ago I bought another, newer and better. The old pack, I bought to go to Georgia, and the new one I bought to go there once again. In that old poem, I wrote
“If I had something to pack
and somewhere to ride
and a pair of arms waiting for me at the end
I’d be rich”
and now I see that I am. Whatever comes.

I am here in April, a spring month, returning to center, stripped away and moving forward. I'll never be a man who practices clean living, but I am cleaner now and it's beginning to feel very good.

No comments: