On secretly enjoying bad dreams.

[Vanessa Mooney Fight the Power studded cuff bracelet + Holy Tee fringed shawl.]

Still posting beach pictures… things have been too busy to stay caught up! Vacations aren’t what they used to be; what fond memories I have of reading in the sun have been obliterated by the most puny invoice of monthly billable hours I’ve seen in over a year. Whoops.

So Rob’s out in Oregon, picking right up where he left off! He sounds completely in his element, happy to be back, and just like I’d imagine someone who’s about to embark on an awesome adventure for which he’s completely equipped would sound. And adventures are the name of the game for us these days: fun ones, shitty ones, and ones that end in little career victories for us both… none that allow us any savings of any sort.

Right now, our hearts are both perfectly in line—with each other, and with our endeavors. On the cusp, and all of that.

These pictures are a funny, stark contrast to my words—two paradigms that coexist like wall and buttress. Only the force of the other dictates that of its counterweight. We were watching the sunset, taking a break from a puzzle, with vodka & tonics, with impractical garments… with total freedom.

[Also: FRINGE.]

Freedom. Which brings me to something I’ve been kicking around for the past week. I’m not sure I have the chutzpah to talk about this, but I’m going to anyway, on one condition: no one leaves a comment trying to convince me one way or the other! (Ha.) And no one assumes I’m speaking for Rob. And no one disowns me. Ok, that’s three conditions.

When people try to talk to me about having babies, man, it feels like a cold’s coming on. I dread colds; I do things to prevent colds. But that first tickle or sneeze—and the second you acknowledge it, you validate it. And it’s on a roll.

“You have kids?” “Nope.” “Well… why not?” Hm, I actually don’t know. Let me think about that.

The next day, that Friends rerun is on. [Does it matter which one?]

Followed shortly thereafter by a baby weight conversation at work [jarring], a glimpse of a photo of supermodel with child [tempting], a jokey text from a friend with a baby [annoying].

As my real life cold was taking shape last week, the baby storm rolled in. I had a visit from a very sweet, particularly baby-crazy friend, numerous years my junior, to see the house for the first time. I know she wants to be married, and to start a family—I like listening to her talk about it in a way I like hearing about trips to countries I’ve never seen. “When are you and Rob going to have a baby?” she asked. I stood pigeon-toed and shrugged.

“You don’t want one.”

“Not really, no.”

I felt horrible, like I was someone lucky enough to get halfway to where she wanted to be, but was scrapping my luck and quitting before the last lap. 

[The moments we live for... for now.]

Setting aside the fact neither of us has a job with benefits, I can’t afford to buy 3 things at Whole Foods, and I work three jobs, I’ve never been comfortable around babies. Or thought they were particularly cute or interesting to a degree that I’d want to keep one permanently myself. My first memory of interacting with a baby was in the daycare room at my mom’s aerobics class. I was 5, maybe 4. A baby smiled at me, then crawled toward me. I sat, panicked, as it climbed up across my outstretched legs, and actually bent my knees, launching the poor thing off me into a barrel roll across the carpet. The only baby doll I had as a child I hated so ferociously, I subjected it to a weird dance ritual that involved setting it face down on the floor next to my record player, placing the needle on “I Wanna Be Like You,” and dancing on top of its bare ass.

Usually, I hate being wrong, but this is one area in which I’ve waited quietly to be proven wrong. If there was a switch that could flip inside my head, I think I’d vote for it to flip, whether it’s right for me or not—it’s the knowing, I think. Never mind the huge societal pressures. Or the miracle of life. Or my love of family. Or fear of dying alone.

Or Facebook.

Instead, I only find more (alarming, at times) comfort in my (so far, still unmade) decision. The noncommittal comfort zone. It’s nice.

Until you read something about your age and statistics and probabilities, and then time sort of makes the decision for you, doesn’t it?

I don’t judge anyone who does have babies. I think it’s pretty awesome, actually. I want to squeeze the oxygen out of my nephews, for example. My niece is comedy gold. Watching Rob’s cousins kiss their mom makes me melt into the floor—with joy and with envy. My parents are so cool, they make me wonder what kind of parent I’d be. My friend Helen’s babies make me want to beat my face in a wall, they’re so adorable. Creative kids are amazing. Poop’s ok, too. I’d love to be able to watch cartoons again, and teach a little shithead how to draw cats and what the names of the fish are. And the idea of something that’s part you is intriguing, although fleeting in its significance.

But don’t mistake curiosity for desire. It’s easy to do.

None of that has ever been enough to make me want it. And from what I hear, you’ve gotta want it. Like, tattoo on the forehead want it. I think about it plenty, and daydream about families, but never with much more than a sartorial curiosity. The only things I can ponder with any real imagination end up feeling like mentally packing for a trip you’ll never take.

It’s all the “can’ts” and “won’ts” about having a kid that make it so inconceivable to me. “Sorry, we can’t [fill in blank of something fun] because that’s when the kid [fill in blank of something annoying]” and I’m thinking… I already have so many limits to things I want to do—financial, time, and otherwise—why would I want to turn around and get pregnant before the ink has dried on my marriage certificate? What about living for a little while? It’s like there’s this big hurry to get fat, tired, and complain about it.

I have nothing real to complain about, and I love it. That seems like a big “I made it”, but that I don’t have anyone to share it with. Because they’re all getting pregnant. So I go back to wondering about this reason everyone thumbs a ride on this particular wagon to confusionville. Like I’m the big dummy who doesn’t get it.

What’s the deal, anyway? Do you wake up one day and just decide to do it? Would endless funds change my mind? Is living on the most family-friendly, giggle-filled street in Richmond going to break me down? Are stretch marks laser removable? Do you have to like kids to have one? Wait, don’t answer that.

I’ve always called it “the baby bone”—as in, I don’t have the baby bone—but now I’m starting to think it’s the other way around. It’s not a bone at all; wanting and having children comes from being soft—bending to want something so badly you’re willing to fold into whatever it takes.

I have excellent posture.

But being stubborn is not always a virtue. I can see someone reading this and thinking, “That’s sad. She doesn’t know what she’s missing.” But I’m familiar with that sentiment. I feel that way about people who don’t enjoy a delicious glass of Beaujolais on a late summer afternoon apropos of nothing except to celebrate the way the light hits your kitchen window and takes your breath away. I feel that way about people who don’t care to travel, who don’t feel the insane need to see every art house French film with a 1-star rating on Netflix. About people who don’t eat glorious, succulent slabs of beef. See, I could go on. We all think someone else is robbing themselves of life’s great pleasures.

A measuring stick of maturity, I’ve found, is the ability to love your own life wholly, but still look on the lives of others with envy. It means our eyes are open. It means we can see beauty in all different walks of life. It means the world’s big enough for all of us.

There’s a main line to this conversation I want to be careful to point out. And maybe it’s embedded in who I am, or maybe it’s what I’ve been through, mistakes I’ve made, and how happy I am to be where I am now… but I have a fierce desire to protect exactly what I have.

For someone with a life devoid of any major tragedy or hardship, considering, I still feel like I had to fight really hard to find Rob, and build what we have, and it’s the one thing in life I’m most positively sure of. A friend began a toast at my rehearsal dinner with “We all know Carey loves men.” Palm → forehead. But aside from my love of the hairier sex, and my previous aversion to long-term relationships, I’m pretty sure I was always just a big softie looking for my perfect match to stick to like a burr. No one else made the cut—some even gave me hives.

It’s a victory I could savor for eternity, but we don’t have that long. Limit awareness of how fast time goes by, if you can.

Rob fills me up—at the end of the day, I don’t need any more than him and me, a table for two, or an open road. And most often, I’m still starving for more time with him. And that’s when he’s in the same room, let alone in Oregon.

Yesterday I texted him to confess I was lonely. “No wonder people have babies,” I quipped immaturely. Today, though, I was so full of happiness at his happiness, his being gone seemed to gild this portion of our life in a way I wouldn’t change if I could.

I want to eat in every restaurant. Go to every city. See every concert. Nurse a hangover without hating myself. I want to be selfish with my time. Chase bouts of melancholy down their holes until I’ve got nowhere to go but back up. I want to pour myself into work that I love. Have my irresponsibilities put only myself at risk. Focus on Rob until he has to peel me off like paraffin just to go to work. [This happens.] Somehow, the idea of bringing anything else into our perfect little world feels like begging for imbalance, strain, tests of what we’re made of—and we agree on this.

It feels like asking yourself to step up to the plate and make sacrifices when you’re not committed to the cause.

The amount of times I’ve vacillated while writing this—on how I feel about it, and whether to post it—are countless, yet still after each period, I pause with the same questions.

Maybe I am limiting myself, or maybe I’m boldly taking a stance. Isn’t being given choices a strange thing? I think about complaining enough at the dinner table to the point my mom would say, “Fine, then go to your room and don’t eat.” Then there you are, in your room, alone, embarrassed, but feeling the need to honor your anger. You hear laughter at the table downstairs, life goes on without you, after all, and you feel foolish. But it became your choice.

So what if we run out of highways?

Because if I wake up one day and find that all of this was actually not enough, I’ll have to be ok with that. That would be another measuring stick: the ability to forgive.

For now, I know what I do want, but I’m not sure what I absolutely do not want. I’ll petition Eli on his thoughts and revisit the issue in a year.

Ambiguously, ramblingly yours,

-Carey

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12 Responses to “On secretly enjoying bad dreams.”

  1. October 2, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

    not to deter you even more, but having a rugrat (or multiple rugrats, for that matter) is hard work. you definitely have to give up pieces of yourself, but not all is lost. you can still enjoy a good glass of wine while staring at the evening light streaming through your kitchen window…although, i imagine you’ll be drinking one or two bottles instead of a just a glass and you’ll only have MAYBE a 1/2 hour to enjoy that light before the rugrat is needing your attention again. ;) being a parent has it’s rewards, sure, but shit…if i hadn’t been so reckless when i was younger and maybe if mark and i would’ve been “careful”…i’d/we’d be getting to know ourselves in different ways. testing our limits and morals and whatnot in different ways. traveling, drinking, taking jobs that don’t pay well, but make us happier than pigs in shit. you know… i admire your lifestyle. i’m envious. and i say to you… be selfish as long as you want or take a stand or whatever you call it. (not to say that you’re a selfish person, you know what i mean.) just DO. anything and everything. don’t feel bad. don’t feel pressured. don’t give in. and at some point, if you change your mind…you and rob will the best kind of parents because you’ll have given it some time and thought and you’ll be ready-ish and you’ll be so in it. make sense? now who’s rambling. i just dig you. when are you coming to CA?

  2. October 2, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    ps. i say those things to you because i get it; however, i wouldn’t have my life any other way. and if you could see miss zoey’s little red head in person…you might change your mind. ;)

  3. Caroline
    October 3, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    I think you probably know my stance on all of this inside and out, and we share so much of that in common. You know my obsession with my nephews and I understand completely how you feel about the little dudes and dudette in your life. I guess I’ve always looked at it as needing to understand what you’ll give up and deciding whether or not it’s worth it to you. I have yet to come down on the side of it being worth it, but I’ve never been with anyone I wanted to have children with either. Like you described, I often experience little moments that reinforce my suspicion that having my own children just isn’t for me. But it’s sometimes difficult to stomach the questions and judgements that come along with that, as well as checking my own judgements about choices others have made in the other direction. Does that even make sense?

    I also question my own decision-making from time to time, just because I never grew up with a model of a childless woman who was happy and secure in her decision. How much of the decision to not want kids is fear? How much is based on practical concerns? How much is a self-protective instinct? My guess is that you have the same questions that sneak in from time to time. I’ve been pleasantly surprised in my adult life, however, to find those models – women who didn’t feel ashamed for not wanting children. That changed my life.

    You have to know that I’m so supportive of whatever you decide your family will look like. You and Rob have built a solid foundation – that’s the best thing.

  4. October 3, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    i always love reading what you have to say… and loved the song so so much!

  5. Sarah
    October 3, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    Wow. I haven’t ever commented here before but I’ve lurked for years. My husband and I talked about this very thing just yesterday. It’s good to know I’m not alone. Thanks for being brave enough to write this.

  6. natalie
    October 4, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

    I love that you say what I’m thinking for me. It saves me so much time, thanks. :)

  7. Jenn
    October 4, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

    I understand the way you are feeling, seriously, you have no idea. It’s like you’ve been sitting in on my conversations with my husband for the past few years. 31 here as well and haven’t a clue yet how I even feel about a child (all I know is those few “could I be pregnant?” moments are usually followed up with a silent fuck and a face palm). Maybe that’s my instinctive answer.

    I’m certainly maternal and an extreme nurturer, but like you mentioned, babies scare me. I don’t have a clue what to do when I’m around them. I see a doggy, and I’m all over that fur baby with tons of loving. I see a child in the neighborhood, and I’ll usually cross the street to avoid the run-in.

    Thanks for writing this. After a week of listening to coworkers talk face painting parties, grocery store temper tantrums and listening to them laugh at my insistence that life will only change a little bit, your words reminded me I’m in no way ready for what comes with a tiny human. Good luck to figuring it all out as well!

  8. Danielle
    October 4, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    Following your conditions, here is my peace: I’m giving it the good ‘ol facebook like. No, scratch that. LOVE. You seemingly delved right into my brain and scooped it all out there for the world to see. I really could not have said it better. Bravo…Kudos… I am in awe of you. Thank you for this.

    (Whenever I get the baby question, I merely point out that my passport is my baby and it deserves all the attention it can get for the next 18 years and then some…)

  9. Jen
    October 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    Well put; I feel exactly the same way! I guess that’s why I like reading your blog so much…

  10. Joseph Conrad
    October 15, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    You should write more stuff like this. It’s lovely reading you when there is purpose behind your words. You’re often too wispy. You hold back…

  11. Jessica
    October 19, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    Oh babe, you’re a writer.

  12. October 26, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

    I’m a mother, and a nomad and a traveler and a person who has led a totally unconventional life on my own terms, which has taken me to over 70 countries and spit me up in an olive grove in Marrakesh. I’ve brought my children with me on that journey. It’s not one or the other. It can be both. That said, I have never understood why society places so so much emphasis on having children. Childless models are perfectly acceptable and shouldn’t be seen as aberrations. I think that if there was more positive reinforcement of that possibility, there would be less hand wringing. Regardless, never care about what others think — you are your own compass.

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