...and if he squinches up his face and says, “Dumb it down,” I know I’m getting stuffy. On the other hand, I can tell if he’s just using that line as an excuse not to focus for more than five minutes on something that doesn’t involve underwater hockey or chainsaws. We’re a good balance that way.
And he’s the one to harass me, when I get rejection slips in the mail, “Was it a poem about me?” I give him The Look. He shakes his head. “Write about me and you’ll be fine.” To appease him this Christmas, I compiled the thirty poems I’ve written in the ten years we’ve been married into a chapbook: The Ironman and the Poet. I caught him on the couch a couple of days actually reading it. Ok, so the poems were either about him or mentioned him. But I took it as a good sign.
At 3 a.m. (having weaned the youngest but unable to sleep after waking three times to rock him back down) I found myself skimming my husband’s copy of Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales (because the intersection of our secret lives, when we’re not parenting means The love poems of Elizabeth and Robert Browning sit next to Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army; The Warrior Athlete sits next to Richard Bach’s Illusions; Sfar’s graphic novel The Rabbi’s Cat sits next to Lee Child’s One Shot.
By 5 a.m., I finish reading the accounts of snow mobile accidents, disoriented hikers, sailors stranded at sea, a teenager who fell out of an airplane and navigated the jungle alone until she found civilization again (the17 others who survived falling out of the plane decided to stay put and wait for rescue, an iffy decision at best). Arms numb from the two hours of rocking and reading, my son snoring peacefully, I’m wondering how young is too young to sign the kids up for survival camp.
Though Gonzales notes that we start teaching them in the womb—as he observes a woman, pregnant, surfing: “Limor looked like Botticelli’s Birth of Venus out there, drawing the mana into her womb from the sea, filling herself with that energy (p.147)”... and a page earlier, describing what she’ll pass on to the child (surfing in utero): “Now there’s a child out there somewhere who began amassing a critical kind of knowledge about a certain type of energy system before he or she was born. True knowledge.”
Do I start that list, now, of things I did pregnant with the kids, chasing my husband? I’m thinking of the time we got stuck swimming in post-storm waves outside a coral reef just off the Big Island of Hawaii. Last morning of our vacation; “Last chance to swim with the spinner dolphins,” the husband had said to me. 3 month’s pregnant with my youngest son (the former nurser). My daughter, on shore, waving us in. The desire to run across that Kona beach house lawn to her so strong it hurt. A coral reef at low tide to skim with our bellies and chests, the disorienting suck and pull of the receding waves to withstand...
...(sneaking a read over my shoulder, the husband adds, “How about those half-dozen sea urchin spines we pulled out of my instep, or how about you, in your bikini, crawling out of that cove without a single scratch?”) Absolutely: I was in charge of the in utero lesson that day.