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The More Things Change by Ray Printer Friendly

There's a chime that sounds in my new neighborhood. I don't know where it comes from...maybe the house across the street? Maybe a block away. I don't know. It sounds slightly like the song from the Harry Potter movies.

I think it's supposed to chime every half hour--and I suppose it does, technically--but not at like 9:30. It's off, so it chimes at weird times. This morning, it was 8:42.

My last house was near a Catholic church, and the bells would play "Old Rugged Cross." I think that was what it played. Around Christmas, it would switch to Christmas songs, but I can't remember which ones. They'd forget to change it, so it usually played Christmas songs well into February.

When I lived in New York, there were speakers on the streets that played Christmas music, so when I walked to the subway to go to work, it was like my life had a jovial holiday soundtrack, played on emergency warning speakers.

The tradition around these parts is to start each issue with a news post--stuff about what I have planned for The Strangelands in the upcoming month. This used to be a thing, because I had actual plans, each month. I had Portly Boy stories, or short stories in the can, ready to be posted. Or if I didn't have any, I knew I'd soon be writing some, because that's what I did.

Things change.

I guess that's what the 8:42 chime made me think of, this morning, as I stared out the window. I'm supposed to be painting the bathroom, by the way. But it was pouring rain when I woke up, and I couldn't bring myself to shut myself in a windowless bathroom to cover everything in blue tape and primer.

Instead, I sat down at my desk and watched out the window as it rained. I watched the water rush down the red brick street in front of my house. I watched my neighbor come out in her pajamas and sit on her porch and smoke a cigarette. I watched the trees sway in the wind.

It was better than painting. And honestly, I feel like it was a little more important, this morning.

We had a baby doctor appointment yesterday, and everything went fine. They said the baby is big, and mentioned that there's a chance he'll be born a little early.

Not much--maybe a couple weeks.

At which point, my heart rate accelerated, and it got a little hard to breathe, and I realized I am in no way ready to raise a child. I thought I was, but that was more in an abstract, "Yeah, I got this," kind of way.

The doubt comes in a much more tangible way. Like when you're looking at the medical-slash-grooming kit at Babies R Us, and you have no idea what any of that stuff is for. I mean, the nail clippers, obviously, and the comb. But then I was told that the comb is special, for getting out flakes of skin that come off the baby's head?

And the bulb thing...it's for sucking snot out of the kid's nose. And the emergency card for listing the baby's doctor and allergies and a ton of other information that I don't know. The name and address part, I can handle that. Everything else is a mystery.

So, yeah, I am not prepared for this. I don't know if I thought I would be, by the time he arrived, or if I just hadn't thought that far, in a real sense. I mean, sure, we'll have a baby. But I don't think that reality had set in, despite the fact that I put so much thought into this decision that I probably killed a good portion of brain cells I'll definitely be needing in the years to come.

People keep telling me it'll be fine. And I believe them, I think. I have an army of friends and family, with years of experience--people with newborns, people with toddlers, people with teens. Smart people, people with kids who turned out just fine. I have these people on which to rely.

But at the end of the day, it's going to be me. That's what my thought was yesterday, as I stood in Babies R Us, trying to breathe.

"Look at all the bath toys," Natalie said. "Look how much fun you're going to have playing with him." She took my hand, and led me away from all the scary stuff, and over to the bright colors and soft plastic and things with big, googly eyes and friendly smiles.

And I realized that it's not just going to be me. It's going to be us. I've got a partner in this, who can help with the stuff I don't know about; someone who can see when I'm overwhelmed, and will guide me back to the good stuff.

She has faith in us. And while I spend entirely too much time seeing the fear, she spends the majority of the time seeing the potential. The bath toys, if you will.

She knows as well as I do that it won't all be laughs and good times, but that's not what she focuses on. The problems, we'll deal with. The happiness, we'll plan on.

Anyway, that's what I'm thinking about this morning, as I watch the rain. And I'm thinking about how things change.

So what's in store for The Strangelands? Well, I'm sure there will be more talk about this baby--he's on my mind a lot, lately, and I doubt he'll take up less of my thinking once he arrives.

As for this month? I have a couple of short stories ready to post.

Thanks for stopping by, Strangelanders.

Posted under The News on 5/9/2015

Entered By Jesse From Logan Airport
2015-05-11 05:18:09

I got choked up at the bath toys part. Sometimes it's a good life, isn't it Ray? Thanks for sharing it.

Entered By hometown girl From Unknown
2015-05-21 19:26:55

Your gonna be great Ray and I'm so glad you have Nat and are happy good luck to yall

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