I lay in my spot on the corner of the couch, the baby swaddled on my belly. I was already well on my way to hungry.
“I don’t have a plan for dinner,” I said.
“I understand,” said Giles. “That’s okay. What are you thinking.”
A mild irritation joined the hunger gnawing my gut. I just said I didn’t have a plan. Didn’t I? Sleep deprivation and the pain in my still-healing caesarean incision made me an unreliable source when it came to tracking my own comments, even ones made just seconds ago.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Could we order some take-out?” I knew I wouldn’t be cooking.
Jayce, sitting on the other end of the couch, voiced a few options. Embarrassing how much our ten-year-old knows of the local offerings when it comes to take-out.
“I’d be up for Old School,” said Giles, picking from one of Jayce’s suggestions.
“That works,” I said. “Could you order me a couple Sicilians?”
Old School is the “groovy” pizza place here in town, owned by a couple we know. Their daughter went to daycare with Jayce, and now is in the same elementary. They are thin and attractive. They keep bees. Old School makes pizzas called “The Princess” and “The Greek,” dripping with toppings like roasted garlic, sun-dried tomatoes. Artichoke hearts. Potatoes. We love their Sicilians, which are thick crusted, succulent.
Giles found the phone. He probably had to search for it, cussing softly at its not being on the charger. Likely he had to page it from the base, and follow its muffled beeping to, say, the bottom of an overflowing laundry basket, or behind a couch cushion. I remember his asking, “Don’t we have the number on the list here? Where’s the phone book?”
“It’s on the list. I wrote it there last week.”
“On the bottom right corner. It’s under a number labeled ‘babysitter’. In green marker.”
“Babysitter’s in green marker?”
“No, Old School.”
“Oh, there it is.”
He dialed the number. “Yes, I’d like to place… oh, sure. It sounds crazy busy there.” He waited a bit longer than just a beat, standing in the living room, on hold. He looked tired. I looked at his face and flashed on the first Giles, the early Giles, the Giles of the wide smiles, patient always, always the calm one. My first Giles. This one looked tired, stressed, hungry. It was like looking in a mirror.
“Yes, I’d like to place an order for take-out. What’s your special on the Sicilian? Oh.” His blue gaze shuttered back to me, wary. “They’re out.”
“Do they have a pepperoni?” asked Jayce.
“Do you have any pepperoni Sicilians? Jayce, how many? Two? Yep? Yes, two pepperoni Sicilians, please,” to the phone. He looked up at me again. “We’ll just order a large pizza.”
“Is that okay?”
Didn’t I just say it? “Yes, that’s fine. What do you want?”
“Um… I just want something with veggies.” Giles doesn’t eat land meat. He eats fish, but nothing that lives on land. He does eat dairy, obviously. There’s not a lot of vegan pizza out there, as far as I know.
“How about one of the groovy ones? A Princess?”
“Uhh… those are pretty expensive. We’re talking a large, here.”
My irritation was beginning to crowd out the hunger by now. Or was it the other way around? It was getting to be hard to tell the difference.
“Let’s call them back. I’m not sure now,” I whined. “I wanted a Sicilian,” I whined.
I did whine.
Giles rolled his eyes. “It’ll take forever to get through again. They’re slammed.”
“Well, I’m not sure what I want now. Just call back, it’ll be fine.” I was acutely aware now that some person on the other end of the line was probably rolling her eyes, leaning on the counter, smirking apologetically at the line filing out the door, listening to us rolling our eyes at each other, and whine. Her imagined irritation fueled mine. I also knew that she was young, and pretty, and pert, and wasn’t leaking breast milk through her pajamas, and that Giles would be looking at her soon, and not at me, God willing and the creek don’t rise.
I could see his irritation rising now too.
“Okay, fine!” I barked. I barked.
I did bark.
“Okay, so what do you want, then?” I said.
“Uh, okay, so, a large, with, uh, broccoli, onions,” (to her). “Is that okay?” (to me).
I muttered under my breath, averting my eyes, “I HATE broccoli on pizza.”
“Okay, so scratch the broccoli,” (to her). “What would you like?” (to me).
More to myself now, I grumbled, “Could we just call them back?”
“So, okay, mushrooms, olives..?
“Okay, so no on those. Um…”
I stopped listening. My life was ruined. I just wanted to go to bed, sleep, shower, not have my middle feel like it was going to pop open every time I moved, not have my nipples feel like they were on fire every time the baby nursed, not have the closed-off, tired, irritable Giles, me… wanted the old us back, knew that meant us without the baby, and God I knew I didn’t really want THAT — life without this sweet, warm, sticky, scenty bundle?
“Hon? Sara? I’ll be back in ten.”
I looked up at him, searched out his blue eyes, found them. They smiled at me, ruefully. “Hey, you.”
“Hey. I’m sorry. I’m just tired. And hungry.”
It was becoming our mantra.
“I know,” I said. “Me too.”
“I’ll be back in ten.”
“Thanks for going to get that.”
“Sure.” He smiled at me again, and was gone.
Gone was still another country to me, requiring passport, visa, innoculations, the works. Unfathomable. How can you go there when you live in your pajamas, and those are milk-stained at the top and blood-stained at the bottom and you don’t know the last time you washed your hair let alone brushed your teeth and anyway how could you drive anywhere because it takes basic core strength just to hoist your flabby self up into the seat, close the door, and turn the wheel and anyway you’ve just traveled so close to both thresholds of life and death that those doors are still hanging wide open for you and now there’s this new life breathing on you and needing you and the car, the car is a deathtrap, the road is that open door waiting to suck you through it to an early grave, leaving your children motherless, with no pizza.
So that’s why you can’t go out and get it. That’s why your eyes, shuttered only a moment before from the one you love, your mate, your friend, the father of your children, your eyes now can flash back to his, meet them, searching, with gratitude.
Jayce, Owen and I waited twenty minutes, hunger growing gently in our bellies, until the door opened and Giles entered, ushering in dinner.
We cleared the clutter off the kitchen table and lay the giant warm box among the detritus of toys, baby clothes, junk mail and unpaid bills, opened the box and viewed our meal.
Onions, everywhere. An uninterrupted field of onions. Onion pizza. Comical to the ear. Unbelievable to the eye. There’s no such thing! There can’t be! Who would order just an onion pizza? What self-respecting pizzarista, pizza tosser, pizza assembler, baker, would ever allow such an animal through the lines? I could never! Not on my watch! Atrocity!
Yet there it lay, gleaming in its whiteness, layer upon layer of crunchy, biting, tear-inducing chunks of whiteness.
“WHAT!?!? How could that HAPPEN!?” I cried. I cried so hard I laughed. I laughed so hard I cried. Onion pizza. Impossible. But there it was. Sort of like my life.
The beauty part is, Jayce let me eat one of the pepperoni Sicilians.
Giles ate the onions.