I share a paper thin bedroom wall with a neighbor’s baby I’ve never seen. It’s been two years now, and every time I hear it crying I wonder when it’s going to grow up or at least learn a couple of words. Because it doesn’t sound like it’s made any progress on being a human in the last two years. Sometimes I wonder if it’s actually a new baby, or maybe a series of new babies, crying directly into the wall to taunt me for thinking I could live a childless life.
I always imagined I’d have kids when I was older, because I like kids, because I remember being one. Don’t you? Being small and staring at adults and wondering why they were acting like being small was entirely your fault, like you had anything to do with this.
We were literally all kids once, and I hate using the word literally. It wasn’t even that long ago, relative to you. Sure, a ninety year old hasn’t been a kid for the last eighty years, give or take. But if they’re lucky enough to still remember things, I bet being a kid feels like just yesterday to them, and if you asked them, they’d gladly tell you all about it.
Tori and I were in my maroon Ford Focus eating Subway sandwiches when she asked me if I wanted to give her and her wife sperm so they could start a family. I had taken the Focus from my sister when I moved back from China, needing a car because I was going to live in New Jersey and people in New Jersey have cars. We had been looking at apartments all day and I was wholly unprepared for this question, still lost in floorpans and security deposits and grappling with the fact that I was going to be a resident of New Jersey. And now I was going to be a dad? Or a sperm donor? Who lived in New Jersey?
We had joked about this when we were younger, when the idea of wives and babies all seemed so far away. Of course I’d give you my baby sauce, I’d say, because what else was I doing with it? But also, did I really want to pass this hairline along? Then we’d laugh and go to the next bar, because we had time until babies came but happy hour was almost over.
People say you shouldn’t live with regrets, but people also say kale is a superfood when chard has almost double the magnesium and is a way better source of iron than kale will ever be. I regret not saying yes immediately that day, because I loved Tori and her wife and what else was I doing with my DNA? But I was caught up in a relationship and an idea of what my future was going to look like and so a couple of days later I said no.
Things happen for a reason is another thing we say to each other, but I think it’s better to say sometimes reason can be found in how things happen.
Tori and her wife now have two beautiful kids, because the next friend they asked said yes and has been an amazing donor dad who has never lived in New Jersey, but more importantly has never wanted to live in California. Because maybe if I had two small pieces of me on the East Coast, I’m not sure I could have packed up and moved here to follow this ridiculous dream? Or maybe there isn’t a reason. Or a baby next door at all, and I’m in an Edgar Allen Poe fever dream being tortured by phantom crying babies until I eventually go crazy or have kids of my own.
This is post #22/30 in a 500 Words-A-Day Challenge. Read them all here.