Whither the kid?
by Matt Worley
It's 65 degrees in the house, but 90 in my room. All the covers and sheets have been thrown off the bed, even though there's a chance for snow this weekend. For some reason, I still have my socks on. She's babbling incoherently--I'd say like a baby, but--something about "I never..." and in my head I know she hasn't...much. The candle flickers and pushes the shadows into a freaky dance, like there are a few of us with appendages akimbo trying to get into each other in any way possible. To be closer since we're so far away most of the time. And even though she professes to hate the Nine Inch Nails song about "fucking like an animal," she's doing her best to imitate getting closer to god.
Later, water drained from the glasses that once held wine, we're back to mostly normal. And I'm thinking, "This is what it takes to make a kid? How are these connected at all?" But when she asks what I'm thinking, I don't say that. Kids, the future, love, these things are inappropriate. What we did was temporary, some kind of momentary heal of a bigger hurt. She's passed out again, and I have to clean up for bed.
My house is filled with danger. Dust piles up in the corners and under the furniture. CDs and movies pile themselves anywhere they want. A pile of scraps of paper is my Rolodex. Some of them should be thrown away, filled with names and numbers of people long gone. Pens and candles and coins and lighters and pencils and wooden sculptures featuring knives and recorders. Everything is within reach and easily eaten or punctured into an unsuspecting body. Plants and action figures interact with each other, not realizing that a small child might find them attractive things to throw around. They don't realize this because, most of the time, there are no small children within ten feet of the house.
In a month or so, I'll be an uncle. I've had a lot of time to think about this: almost 30 years. But looking around where I live, I wonder what a child would think of this life. How would a kid find any kind of natural integration into the strange associations I've built up over the years? My brother and his wife don't want to know the sex until it is born, but I suspect it'll be a boy. Boys run in my dad's side of the family. Of course, maybe that kind of thing skips a generation, like baldness.
My roommate and I sent a copy of The Shins Oh, Inverted World to the unborn kid for Christmas. Probably a strange gift to something that won't really understand English for a year or so, but the first ten or so times I listened to it, I couldn't understand what the singer was singing either. It is beautiful music, though, with influences like the Beach Boys, the Cure and the Beatles. Beautiful harmonies and melodies, something that makes you want to hum or sing along. Something to make you smile, even though most of the songs are about girls: breaking up with them, getting back together, just trying to figure them out long enough to have a decent conversation. Plus, the band is from Albuquerque (as all of the year-end lists couldn't resist pointing out--everyone likes "Albuquerque" because it's a funny name), so there are roots from my own life. My roommate and I saw them play a couple times in 2001, actually before I really started getting into the CD.
This is the life I have to offer to this young soul. Full of cluttered feelings and unspoken works of art. Littered with stories that won't be appropriate for the kid until I'm too old to make them believable. And what can I do to help with the kid's upbringing, when I'm still working at upbringing myself? Maybe that's why we sent The Shins.
In my life, there is little thought of kids or marriage or even lasting longer than a month or more on any kind of project or partner. Well, maybe the thoughts are there, but I don't necessarily believe them. I have no proof that they will ever be true.
The due date is officially February 14th. That night, there will be a CD release party for a local band called Oh, Ranger! They are a poppy rock group that deserves the kind of accolades The Shins got last year. Of course, they probably won't get the same kind of recognition. Oh, Ranger! is on a local label, while The Shins are on SubPop.
February 14th is also Valentine's Day. February 14th was also my due date when I was impending. I was born, however, on the 1st. Not sure what my hurry was. Don't quite remember. Maybe I could feel that everyone was waiting for me to be done, and so I stuck my head out to say hi--not realizing it was a permanent move.
I'm sure my brother and sister-in-law are preparing for the impending much better than I. For one thing, I don't have to do much in my role as uncle. I live two-thirds of the country away, in a city with a strange name that brings titters to the mouths of many. It could be years before the kid is able to run across the floors of my home and dismantle the cluttered life I've set up.
So all I really have to do is wait, and throw the covers and sheets back on the bed. Not that I have to pick up, but it will eventually get cooler in the room. The least I can do is take care of my own needs.