by Jessica Lohafer
I am a woman with a plan.
I consider each moment of my day, each activity. I write lists upon lists, burying myself in yellow legal paper. I enjoy organization, find it deeply satisfying, almost arousing. I suppose it makes sense that one of my jobs is planning a writing conference. When I turned twenty five, I made a list of things I would do by the time I was thirty. Reading it, my friend Bob laughed at me, saying that I would never get all of it done, that my goals would change. And sure, they’ve changed in the past three years, but I’m actually on course to finish that list, thank you very much.
I like order because I like control, the idea that I’m able to hold some part of my life in my hand, the dream that I’m able to make some sense of what is constantly occurring around me. The hope that I can protect myself from both the unknown and the known. Of course, I can’t. I have had enough (quite excellent) therapists to know that I can’t actually control anything. But it never stops me from trying.
On January 25, 2015, my nephew Benicio del Roy Thomas Jessen Lohafer was born. I was there, and I have to tell you, birth is the wildest thing I have ever witnessed. Forget all that noise you see in the movies, with the lightly perspiring woman who labors for approximately fifteen minutes, only to be handed a (unrealistically clean) baby. All I saw was sheer, raw determination. Passion. A little fear. Maybe more than a little blood. Standing across from my baby brother, I was terrified, afraid I was going to get in the way, almost tripping over the cords at my feet. And still, we stayed. I tried to help, to encourage, knowing full well I wasn’t really doing anything, anyway.
Before the baby was born, I tried to reorganize my schedule for two weeks, making sure I’d make it to the birth in time. At the bar, half of the staff was on call, just in case. All of my regulars would ask me whether or not my nephew had arrived, probably sick of hearing about it already. There was one instance of false labor; I was working at the bar and I starting calling my co-workers frantically, desperate to get to the hospital. When I told my boss what was happening, she started laughing. “I’d bet $100 the baby doesn’t come today.” She was right. He didn’t show up for another week. No matter what I did, this unborn child would not follow my carefully constructed schedule. Apparently, that’s not really their thing. Maybe this baby is going to teach me to let go, a little.
Benicio, you are, without a doubt, the best thing that’s ever interrupted my work week. You have perfect timing.