My Back

Our dishwasher quit working. I blame it on that.

I mean, I should say, it works, it just doesn’t drain, and it doesn’t drain because it was installed by an undereducated idiot… me. The hose they sent with the dishwasher isn’t long enough for where I want the dishwasher to be, so I replaced it with a rubber hose that is the right thickness and length. It didn’t occur to me that a rubber hose might very easily trap gook on the inside where a plastic hose wouldn’t.

I know this is pretty mundane but the truth is that all the miracles and big moments in your life have, at their root, all of these mundane moments. My actual life seems to be filling in the quarter notes more than it is hearing the music, if that makes any sense.

So, I spent several hours over the last two days trying to clean out the various traps and trying to get the dishwasher functioning. It’s at about 80%, so, naturally, we did a load of dishes. Our house is a goddam mess, a complete goddam mess… it feels like I’m walking home from the store with a month’s worth of groceries and no bags, I just keep moving armload after armload up a block and then go back for the rest. In any case, we did a load of dishes and they came out clean, I just have to keep working on the trap and the hose.

What it led me to was a slow bad feeling in my back. I’ve never had a bad back, my knees are for shit and my stomach always hurts but I’ve got a really strong back, always have. So it’s weird and rare that I get this bad feeling in my spine, but last night it started feeling kinda, y’know, *bad*.

My poor kid is teething. This morning at 2:15, he woke up in pain. I went in as I always do and tried to get him to settle down, but he was really unhappy. Because it was the middle of the night, I had forgotten that it could be his teeth. Jordana popped her head in and said, “You can give him some baby tylenol…” and I was like, “Crap, why don’t I ever *think* of these things…”

I spent the next 52 minutes rocking him and swinging him. At 3:07, when he lost his shit again, I whined into the monitor, “Jordana… can you come in here?” My back was locking up, I couldn’t move and Barno was inconsolable.

So, that’s a great little pity party, isn’t it? Sucks for me, up all night, back hurting. My life is extremely hard.

But those 52 minutes were partially awful, but partially amazing. I put some teething tablets in his mouth and waited for them to melt, and then I rubbed them on his gums. I don’t know if it’s the tablets or the rubbing, but he just completely relaxed as I rubbed his gums. I got to the back of his teeth and he started biting down on my finger making this little “gaaaah” sound of satisfaction, the same sound I make when I get some good pot roast…

And I was swinging him and he’d relax, but then he’d start to whine like a rusty door swinging, and I’d pick him up to my face and nibble on his chest and belly and arms and he’d stop whining completely. When I pulled him down from my face, I could just see him, smiling, with fingers in his mouth, eyes looking to the side.

It’s hard for me to talk about my life with Barnaby, because it’s all inside me. He has some problems, his sleeping sucks and he’s a hilarious pain in the ass when it comes to eating, and then all of the nice stuff, the smiling and the talking and the staring into my eyes, that’s all so obvious.

You never really change, I think. You don’t change or have something happen to you and then you’re changed. It’s never as simple as it is in the movies, where you can say, “my father fought in Vietnam, so now I’m scared of pineapples” or whatever. People claim this all the time, like the so totally misunderstand psychiatry that they say, “my father was mean to me, so now subconsciously I mistrust men.” As if you can make an announcement about your own subconscious, and as if knowing the source of an irrational feeling wouldn’t make it basically go away.

The changes that happen tend to be the kind of thing where you look back and you realize that years ago something shifted your point of view, and you’ve been behaving accordingly ever since. You listen to someone talk and you don’t believe them, and you realize it’s because of something three or four years ago, plus something from last year, plus something from high school.

But when you have a baby, your learning curve, your maturity and your shifting nature starts to pace his. He’s a different person, entirely, every day, and you find yourself changing your head and your heart every day.

There aren’t any goods and bads anymore. Everything is painted in different colors. It’s the same painting, it’s all the same life, but now, the colors are different, like blowing out the tint knob on an old TV.

I can barely move my back. But I had Barno this morning for 45 minutes, and the exquisite pain of carrying him was a different kind of pain. When I pick him up and he puts his hand out and pulls my glasses off and then drops his forehead into my neck, my back freezes, but it’s just so lovely.

Those 52 minutes I was up with him are different than you might think. It was terrible, and I fell asleep in horrible pain at minute 54, but the color of the pain was just not the same as it was five months ago today.

Obviously, five months ago today, all of the pain was Jordana’s.

But five months and a day ago, I wouldn’t have known how beautiful a hurt back can be. I didn’t know how much you could be loved by someone you barely know. The colors were all different.

Somehow, the feeling of “broken dishwasher” is still pretty frickin’ similar…