Katy Perry was singing “You’re hot then you’re cold! You’re yes then you’re no!” on the radio and Bear and I were driving towards the mountains on our fourth date. “I like your sunglasses,” he said, and when I glanced at his profile, it was adorably boyish. He was blushing faintly and his little smile was the helpless kind, where you can’t not smile. Everything is too good to not smile. I didn’t know anything about him except that he felt completely right and I felt completely right with him. I started singing along with Katy Perry, even though it was the first time I’d heard the song. He joined in.
We were yes! We were not even a little bit no.
I was twenty-three.
I had never made a reservation at a restaurant because I’d never, as an adult, gone to one nice enough to need a reservation.
Bear was twenty-five. That seemed well into the totally grown-up range. He’d made a reservation for our first date, even though the restaurant was not in fact very nice, and I was impressed with the casual way he gave his last name, like he was used to eating out. Eating out impressed me (I either made all of my own meals or got a slice of pizza somewhere). Taking a cab impressed me (they did that on TV but everyone I knew exclusively rode the subway). Wearing ragged New Balance sneakers paired with Cargo pants did not impress me, but I thought it was cute that he didn’t own any jeans because he thought they were too fashion-y.
“I’ll buy you jeans,” I said, indulgently. I felt lavish, magnanimous. “You’ll like them.”
I was pretty sure I could blow this guy’s mind—worldly table reserving and all.
A few days ago, we were driving on the highway in Florida, headed back to the airport from Bear’s aunt and uncle’s home, where his ninety-five year old grandmother lives, too. We finally made it down there, for the weekend, so that Eden could meet her.
Eden hates the car so much. “Babies love the car!” people say, speaking of the accomplished babies of legend whose parents are always fresh-faced and proud.
Eden started to cry the second her butt hit the car seat. And now she cries “Mama! Mama! MAMAMA!!” lifting her chubby little arms in an anguished plea for help. It’s a little bit heartbreaking.
We were running late, naturally, and there was no time to pull over and comfort her. Nothing short of freedom works.
“ABCDEFG! HIJK, LMNOP!” we sang at the top of our lungs. “THE ITSY BITSY SPIDER!! WENT UP THE WATER SPOUT!”
“MAMAMAMAMAMA!!!” she wailed.
“I can’t do this,” said Bear, his face crumpling.
“Stay focused!” I said. “Keep driving!”
She cried for forty minutes. I was hunched forward. Bear’s face had gone tight.
“So,” I said, looking at his profile. “We made a baby!”
He didn’t respond.