Two years ago today, we put the duffel bag on the bed and started chucking stuff in it; stuff we thought we'd want. I put the phone chargers in, and my toothbrush. Monica threw in a Chapstick and the camera. I chucked in a Dickens novel. She tossed in some make-up and some shampoo and some toothpaste. I put in my secret flask with red wine in it and my Zoloft. Monica laid in some pjs, some warm socks. I took out the flask and dumped the wine down the drain. My wife threw a thing of granola bars in there. Maybe some cookies. I picked out a shirt or two, I guess. Maybe she packed them for me.
At the hospital we watched the tv a little. We saw the playbacks of the new President being inaugurated on every channel they had in there. He was someone we really love and so we saw it as a cool sign; it seemed really something to us that we would probably have our first kid on the first day of a good man's era. It put a little extra zip in the air of our room. It got us kinda stoned on hope and the future. It was just great.
Nurses popped in and out. I ate cookies and walked around some. Down to the cafeteria, looking at the menus stapled to the cork boards. It was Ethnic Week and there were days listed when they were gonna be serving Chow Mein and Lasagna and stuff. Dinner was over by the time I wandered in though, so I just poked around and bought some more cookies for something to do. In the hallways, I strolled down brighly lit tiles and tried to imagine how my life was about to change.
You can't imagine it though.
You just can't.
I'd been in a rock-n-roll band for over a decade, driving around, playing guitars and drinking late into the night. I'd spent a lot of years doing something wild and free; but down in my guts I was never feeling like this was my world. It was a pretend world: a place where men could pretend to be kids. And after awhile, that got really old and stale. The songs, the musicians in the band, the endless nights in London or Austin, I began to look down at them as if they were a fat rubber-banded wad of old football pool slips; things that had once held so much meaning/so much jittery excitement; things that were now just stuffed into the sock drawer, taking up space I needed.
Life doesn't ever end up how you planned it. Nothing comes rumbling down the pike with the same paint job it was wearing in your 3am dreams. So here I was, severed from my past/ kicking around the halogen halls, waiting on my future; our future.
I ambled back into our room after awhile and had a cookie and asked Monica if she wanted one. She didn't and I was secretly glad because that's the way I think. I got a Cookie Monster mentality and here I am about to become a dad. Whatever. I'd find my way.
It's sort of otherworldly in a way to watch the person you love the most in this world lying in a hospital bed. You sit there on an orange cushioned chair by the window that looks out into the darkness of night and across the air into the slanted glow of other people's hospital rooms, you sit there and you steal peaks at the person, at the tubes in her arms, and you notice stuff you never really bothered to see before. Pin dot freckles on the underside of her pale wrist.
The way her ears attach to her temples.
How she smiles a little without even knowing it when she watches the television, even during the commercials; even during the dumb ones for cars or other stuff we ain't buying.
It throws you for a loop but it isn't a forever loop and sadly it usually slips away when you slide down through the automatic hospital doors. By the time you get home and park the rig and help the person inside: you're already thinking dumbass selfish shit, like what can I have for dinner/we're out of everything or I wonder if its okay if I just sit on the couch to chill and watch some Seinfeld. Still, it can come back on you, like it's coming back on me today. Watching the person just laying there on the hospital sheets, flipping channels, their heart beats doing electric dances across the monitor over in the corner. It comes back sometimes and you are thumped with a sledgehammer across your facebone. It comes back and for a second you understand everything. Serge, you dumb bastard...look at all this, man.
There were some needles and medicines that Monica had to have to get stuff moving along. Needles for pain too. I kept thinking maybe someone would offer me a needle, just so it might make her feel a little better, like she wasn't all alone with that stuff. Nobody ever offered me anything though.
At some point, between nurses whisper talking to Monica about dilating this and that, I fell asleep on the plastic couch. When I woke up, I peeled my face off the vinyl and rubbed the sand from eyes and I could tell right away we were closer to the new world.
You could just feel it. The coast of life.
You could just barely see the rocky shore getting banged by the waves. From a misty mile out, you could just barely see the jutting cliffs of land hanging high above some beach we'd never seen before in our lives.
I rolled off the couch and looked over at Monica and she was smiling a light smile as the nurses busied themselves clearing a landing strip. In my deepening breaths I let go of everything I had ever known like fresh ballons on a wind. I looked out the window at the gauzy January morning and I saw the mountains over the city and the sky up over the mountains. I turned around slowly, and walked over to her bed.
We looked at each other.
We nodded spy nods.
And when the nurses weren't looking, we grabbed each other's hands and we leaped off yesterday's pigeon shit ledge togther.