We’re going to need a bigger house, I said. You were not sure.
The people who built this house and lived here for 52 years, the people who planted the twin dogwood trees in the front yard, they raised two children in this house, you said.
But both children were girls, I reminded you.
Our daughter was due in the fall, a month or so after my sister’s first baby was due, around the time our son would turn two.
This is a fairy tale scene under glass, a freeze-frame calm before a storm both literal (we called it Hurricane Elvis) and metaphorical:
It is early summer, not too hot. You are tall and trim, and I am short and stout, wearing my Bert and Ernie dress (that is what you call it, because it is cheerfully striped) and your Danskos, because they are loose on my feet.
All of our friends, the ones we’ve made, together, are still in Memphis, and my mother appears to have pulled off a miracle.
Our son goes to a neighborhood Mother’s Day Out program, where Ms. Shirley is teaching him to share. Another mother takes him to the zoo one afternoon, and introduces him to M&M’s, delighting him beyond measure. Sometimes we hang out with other parents, sitting in their kitchen eating homemade pasta and watching our toddler boys race Hot Wheels.
Most weeknights we are simply at home, in our little white house with the gardens you are cultivating, the tall crape myrtle you planted (for balance), the fragrant roses and lilies by the porch.
After dinner you get in the bathtub with our son and the fleet of rubber ducks, make funny mohawk hair-dos during shampoo time, draw pictures on the tile with water crayons, wrap him in the soft brown towel that has a bear face on the hood, slip him into Buzz Lightyear pajamas.
I curl in the chair with him, still warm from the tub, read Little Quack and Goodnight Moon, tuck him in the crib he’ll soon outgrow.
Then I crawl in bed next to you, read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix while you read a spy thriller or play Tetris.
Remember this, all of it.
Our neighbor, the architect, draws plans for an addition, a master suite off the back so we can stay exactly where we are.
It would make ours the biggest, most expensive house on the street, you say, and that’s never a good position to be in.
We have to leave our little sanctuary, after the baby comes. We have to leave the floor furnace you’ve learned to repair, the wide plank oak you salvaged for the kitchen, the cat you buried in the flower bed, the cat we didn’t want but then mourned after she got hit by a car, before we discovered I was pregnant with our son.
We have to leave because we are having a second child, and it’s a girl.
Two is not twice one, my friend Joe says. It’s some geometric expansion that I can’t even explain to you.