Its nights like these, where I end up doing way too much thinking. I think about life. I think about the past, and about every little thing that led me to where I am now: cross-legged on a rose-colored Persian rug, staring emptily down at my third cup of espresso as next to me, my son chews a gluten free muffin at 1:26 am.
Normally, I don’t mind if Milan wakes me up… and tonight is no exception. On the contrary, I’m grateful for the companionship. I haven’t been able to sleep. I was tossing and turning; burgundy sheets clinging in this muggy summer night. It feels to me as if he could sense distress in the household, and woke to diffuse the situation… I love to think of him like that, as intuitive and omnipresent, although he still cannot speak.
My thoughts have been twitching with a nostalgic confusion, yearning to be understood. Every other moment, a flash of the past would flood my mind. Its as if the heat has trapped me in a sweat lodge, steaming out the truth.
The first thought is toward the moment I met Arno. I was eighteen when I realized I wanted nothing to do with the people around me. I was fresh out of school with a broken heart and a fearless thirst for adventure. We met at night time. He wore a pale blue sweater and ripped jeans. He was well into his thirties and spoke with an unfamiliar authenticity, curled by his thin accent. The connection between us was immediate and intense. A single shared cigarette felt like a lifetime of intimacy. For the first time, in quite a while, I felt inexplicably happy. There was no effort. There were no false pretenses. Inch by inch, I let my walls down and I allowed him to see who was inside. When he asked me to come live with him in Italy, I was shocked but unhesitating. I had been swept up in the gravitational pull of my own destiny. I knew where my life was headed, and I was ready.
Admiring his chocolate smeared smile, and the mountain of chocolate-chip crumbs building on the antique rug, I am reminded of the first time I held my son. It was the early morning in California, and we were sitting in an almost empty hospital room. Paper crinkled under me as I laid down on a fresh bed. The nurse handed him to me, and I was shocked by how warm he was. Our doctor had advised that I take off my shirt, in order for him to experience skin-to-skin contact with the both of us. I held his tiny little body against my chest and took in the biggest and shakiest breath I have ever taken. There was a moment then, when he started to cry and refused to be comforted, that I doubted everything. It was all a mistake. I had no idea what I was doing, and he hated me! There’s no way I could do this…
Arno laid his hand over mine, and helped me prop up my elbow so that Milan could be a bit more comfortable. Almost immediately, he stopped crying, and snuggled into my arms. I looked up into my partner’s brown eyes and felt instant relief. Together, we could do this. We had brought this beautiful little boy into existence, together. We were going to raise him, together. I was a member of the most powerful team in the world, and that thought gave me so much gratitude.
The silence snapped me out of my reverie. I couldn’t hear any more babbling. There were no more sounds of chewing. I look back over at Milan, and see him sprawled out over the white leather couch, fast asleep. Waves of emotion overflow inside me, and I have to wipe away tears. I grab a blanket, and lay it gently over his sleeping form.
There are so many days where I feel lost. Being a parent is heavy…and messy… and so confusing. Its easy to get frustrated… But its also rewarding, and funny, and so so worthy it. It goes by fast… and one day there will only be memories, and midnight nostalgia….
There are so many moments in life which we need to appreciate. I’m glad I can share a few moments of my own gratitude.