During one of the calls to Lyena while I’m in Maryland helping care for my dad, she gently floats a reminder that there’s baby-making to be done and if we want to give this round a go, then the window is a small one. The problem is that I’m currently in Maryland, Lyena is in Los Angeles and in less than a week, we’re both supposed to be in Alaska. As it’s very hard to do what we need to do while we’re 3,000 miles apart (and I am completely unwilling to let someone else do my bit), one of us has to fly to the other.
Since our beloved Dr. VaJayjay is in LA and I’ve got to be in LA to fly to Alaska later in the week anyway, it makes the most sense for me to come home a couple days before we head up to Alaska and to schedule our business (sad that it’s starting to feel like that) during those couple days. I’m still worried about my dad, though he does appear to be improving, and during one of his more lucid moments, I ask him how he feels about me going. “Babies are good,” he says simply with a smile. I guess I have my answer. There’s not a whole lot I can do here anyway, so I repack my barely-unpacked bag and make what feels like my 30th trip across the country.
About 36 hours after I land in LA, we’re once again at Dr. VaJayjay’s office ready to get back to the business of baby-making. It’s another one of those early morning make-the-deposit, go-have-breakfast, “receive”-the-deposit, snuggle-a-bit-in-the-afterglow-of-“sex” and return-home deals. We’re back in our apartment by lunch.
The whole baby-making process is starting to feel rote, mechanical… almost inhuman. Each time, we try to liven it up with some real nook-nook in the days following the artificial kind, but it’s getting harder to escape the reality that the activity that is probably going to actually do the job is likely to have very little to do with me. This is beginning to get me down a bit. I know it’s still me in there, but I guess I just feel a little “less-than” for not being the instrument as well as the material.
Fortunately, there’s not much time to think about it, because less than 36 hours after we inseminate, we’re on a plane to Alaska. A few years back, a theater in Anchorage hired Lyena to perform her show in residence up there. Once again, I got to tag along as her Technical Director. We had a great time, and figured that since this may be our only chance to see the ginormous state, she should try to book some other gigs for around the same time. One of the places she contacted was an organization called REACH AK.
Now, three years later, they are inviting us back for our longest visit yet. For the next three weeks we will be teaching movement and storytelling classes to their clients and local kids. It’s a pretty packed schedule on each of the work days, but we’ve managed to get three days off for two of the weekends, so we’ll also have some play time. This is now our third trip to the Frontier State and our third trip to Juneau in as many years, and neither of us are even remotely tired of it.
REACH has put us up in a nice suite in a nearby hotel. It’s all one room with two beds, a full kitchen (for Lyena’s foodie addiction) a big flat-screen TV (for my entertainment addiction) and an “accessible” bathroom that seems to have all the right stuff, but was clearly put together by someone who had never been in a wheelchair, never known anyone in a wheelchair, and, possibly, never actually seen a wheelchair.
One morning, I’m on my computer when Lyena comes out of the bathroom. With a tone that verges between angry and apathetic she says, “I got my period.” “Dammit,” I reply. “I’m sorry, Honey.”
This seems like the right thing to say at the time. But I soon discover it wasn’t. Not long after, the temperature in the room drops considerably. At first I think it’s the gloom of once again not being pregnant, but I slowly begin to realize that there’s more to it than that. More me to it than that. After a confused hour or so, where I try to figure out what I said or did wrong, Lyena says she wants to “talk.”
There is a tone sometimes in my wife’s voice when she says she wants to “talk” that can stop me in my tracks. It doesn’t exactly bring back the childhood demons of being in “trouble,” but I know it means that something is wrong and there is going to be work involved in fixing it. When I hear this tone, my brain immediately starts scanning the myriad of ways I may have screwed up, calculating the fallout and planning for the cleanup. Generally, I am able to figure out where I went wrong. This time, however, I am completely at a loss.
One of the things I love most about my relationship with Lyena is how we conflict. I say “conflict” because we don’t really fight – we seldom even really argue – but in those inevitable moments when we disagree and must come to some sort of compromise, we “conflict” well. We both work very hard to make sure the other is (and feels) heard and understood, and we endeavor to work through whatever the problem is with the goal of meeting each other on the other side. This is, in fact (and quite surprisingly), the quality I discovered to be the “lightning bolt” I was looking for when I considered proposing. After one of these “conflicts,” I realized that if we could do the hard stuff, and still keep an eye on each other and on coming together, then… well… what the hell was I waiting for?
And so, Lyena and I sit down for a “talk.” She tells me that when I simply said, “I’m sorry,” without asking how she is doing or talking about how I feel, it makes her feel alone – as if this is something for her to deal with and not something that really affects me. Now, to a certain extent, this is true. Although it upsets me each time we don’t get pregnant, it doesn’t hit me on the visceral level that it does Lyena. How could it? And, to add to it all, there’s the whole stupid “man” thing of not showing your emotions that I haven’t yet fully shed. All this combines to create a divider between us. A wall of the unspoken. Never a good thing when you’re trying to make a baby.
As usual, we work it out. We talk, listen, sit silent, talk some more, hug, apologize, understand and move on with our day… together.
Man, I love this woman.
Up Next… The Kids Are Alright