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The Day The Sky Fell

Over the weekend, I discovered something I wrote the day after I found out I was going to be a dad. At the time, I viewed daddy-dom as daddy-doom. It seems like forever, but it's only been three years since I wrote this --- not too long ago, but long enough to change my stripes. At the time, I was in a good place, and I didn't want anything, especially some kid, coming along and rocking my boat.

Here is what I wrote in all its unadulterated, deranged and unabridged glory:

Last night my girlfriend told me she was pregnant. Of all the ways to do it she told me over the phone. Our conversation began casually enough and we bantered on about nothing much as we usually do before bedtime. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been teasing her that she’s been acting funny since her return from a weekend trip with the girls to Atlanta. She’s not the clingy type and she’s been nothing but clingy, so I told her she must be pregnant. She’s dismissed me as the kidder she’s come to know and love, but she continued to be clingy and I continued to joke that she must be pregnant. The joke stopped being funny to her so she decided to take a home pregnancy test --- exactly three of them to be sure. They all came back positive.

Last night I guess she was done with my jokes and done holding her tongue. It turns out she’s known for a week. Her original plan was to tell me on Father’s Day, two weeks from now. If she had told me then I think I would’ve had a stroke on the spot and ruined the dinner we have planned for her father and stepfather.

She asked me how I felt. How was I supposed to feel? Thoughts of being run over by a freight train and then hit by a Mack truck raced through my mind. A better question would have been, how was I supposed to answer such a ridiculous question after being told over the phone?

I breathlessly blubbered something about being fine. My throat went dry and I felt a sudden case of eye strain even though I was sitting in the dark. I got off the phone quickly. I wanted to run, but run where? I wanted to hide, but again, where and honestly, from what? I went to one of my bedroom windows and and began to push against it with all my strength. If I was superhuman I would’ve torn the window right out of the wall. But I’m not and the windowframe ignored my effort. Outside, the full moon was shining down on me as it hung in a dark, velvety purple sky.

“Why now?” I asked myself out loud into my bedroom that was quiet except for a midnight breeze. “This can’t be.”

But it was. It is. And I just got myself into a place where I was comfortable. My savings accounts are getting fat and the only real bills I have are my mortgage and my student loans. I want to get a personal trainer, travel to Europe and Bermuda (in addition to the ski trip I took to the Berkshires and the ones already booked later this year for Chicago, Orlando, and the Bahamas).

“This can’t happen to me,” I pleaded to the night in front of me. Bad thoughts flooded my mind and gave me hope that this was somehow a huge mistake. Maybe my girlfriend, after being marriage-crazy for months, was delusional. Maybe she bought a bad home pregnancy test --- three times.

How am I going to have a baby with a woman, a striking make-up free goddess of war, who I’m currently fighting with more than loving? How am I going to explain this to my parents, traditional, old school, God-fearin’ black folk? Why would I want to raise a child in this world when I’m struggling to raise myself? It’s only been a couple of years that I’ve accepted the reality that I’m an adult.

She and I have been tenuously reunited for the past year after a six-month breakup. As far as I see it things aren’t going well. My plan has been to spend the summer trying to figure out a way to stop fighting with her. Long walks, camping, working out together, romantic dinners, weekend trips, the whole nine while her nine year-old son from a previous relationship is away at sleep-away camp. If things work out then I’ll buy an engagement ring. If they don’t, I’m leaving for good.

What about the used 2003 Mercedes-Benz C230 Kompressor I’ve been eyeing to replace my 1995 Civic? I’ve been promising myself a nice car for my birthday since I hit thirty. I've been driving hoopties since college. How am I going to consider something so frivolous when I have a kid on the way?

If I hadn’t been joking that she was pregnant, maybe she wouldn’t have taken those tests and somehow none of this would’ve ever happened.

Yeah, right.

The moon was laughing at me. I began to pray to God Almighty, begging and praying that I be spared. I had done my best to be celibate since reconciling with her and I’m pretty good at it when I’m not trying to have sex. And given I don't carry condoms in my money clip, I should’ve known this was going to happen. But as someone who's survived broken bones, car accidents, a fire and being homeless for one week, how in the world could I let myself get screwed by a baby?

By screwing, obviously.

After a few minutes of begging God for a false positive, I stopped, knowing God was somewhere laughing at me while He helped folks who had real problems. I stood and looked out my window again.

“Fuck!” I spat loudly, considering the hour. Nobody heard or noticed. Why would they? Most normal folks were asleep, but I never go to bed early. I’m up most nights torturing myself with the idea that I can be better than I am.

I looked at the adjoining brick walls of my building and suddenly wished I could climb out my window, stick to the walls and swing off like Spider-Man or just fly the hell away like some other superhero. But all a leap from my fifth floor window would’ve gotten me was a visit to the ICU or the morgue. It wasn’t that bad of an idea except that my mother would probably kill me if I didn't succeed.

I wandered around my apartment in the dark for most of the night. Somehow I woke up tangled in my sheets a few minutes before my alarm went off even though I don't remember ever going to sleep. I thought for a moment hoping it had been a dream.

My racing heartbeat told me I wasn't.

At work I sat at my desk staring into space, my mind replaying the conversation over and over in my ears. No one noticed or cared as they passed by my door. I can't tell anyone. Call it shame; call it embarrasment; call it whatever. It’s probably a combination of both. I did tell one person as soon as I got to my desk. My best friend was ecstatic when I told him I was going to be a father. He's a six-figure-income type who told me I might need to take a second job to soften the blow of the new addition and in a matter of minutes casually planned out the next six months of my life. I didn’t remember asking his advice and I definitely didn’t want him to be happy for me. He was supposed to understand my pain and feel as f____d up as I did.

This summer was supposed to be about me and what I wanted --- the exact opposite of what I think is getting ready to happen. Now it can’t be about me unless I plan on being the biggest dick on Earth.

Yeah...I was scared in the beginning. When I read this yesterday for the first time in over a year, I busted out laughing. It's amazing what a couple of years of too many stinky-ass diapers, having no personal space, catering to everyone but me, being bossed around by a 35-pound screaming dictator and her Cabinet comprised of Dora, Diego and SpongeBob Square Pants, getting queasy from the pubescent, zoo exhibit smells coming off a boy less than half my age, catching more colds in 2 years that I have my whole life, shopping constantly for groceries and just generally wanting to scream by the end of each week can do. Now, I can't even imagine life without these kids who insist they're mine.

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