The Bugaboo

Posted by: , August 18, 2009 in 10:39 am

afterbirth1 The BugabooMy partner loves her Bugaboo. I’ve hated it since the day we got it. It’s easy to hate. After you buy the rain cover and the car seat attachment and the mosquito net and the Breezy Sun Canopy and the parasol and the Snuggly Foot Muff and the latte cup holder and the grocery bag hook and the custom diaper bag and the Transport Bag, it tops out at well over a thousand dollars. A thousand dollars for a stroller. My first car cost me less than that. And try to get the thing into the trunk of a taxi while cars pile up behind you on a busy street.

There is one day I remember in particular; I was trying to break down our Bugaboo and put it on the bus after a day by the sea in Dunleary, Ireland because the bus driver would not allow it on board except folded and was threatening to leave me by the roadside as I struggled to collapse the metal frame. As I waged war on my partner’s beloved Bugaboo, she watched through the window as did the entire bus with our precious daughter clutched to her breast, while my son from my previous marriage pressed his nose against the glass. Finally Dolores sent out Sam, age five, to help.

Daddy, you just press the hooks down and back, not up. No, Daddy, no, no, don’t jam it.

Sam, I said to my son, as I unclenched my teeth, Daddy knows how to do it.

No, Daddy, here, look, I’ll show you. My son reached for the culprit, a small silver handle that would not respond to my insistent jabbing.

Sam. Please, I said, my voice rising, my frustration mounting, just . . . get . . . on.

At that moment God asserted himself, the bar released and the wheels folded and the Bugaboo base collapsed and I hoisted the now properly folded contraption up and onto the bus as passengers leaned far back in their seats, eyes averted, while I stormed down the aisle, fury masking my humiliation. For the duration of the ride back to Dublin, I sat on the upper level of the bus, fuming, far from my family, who sat on the main level below me. Naturally, I blamed my partner for all this. As the bus lurched, the thought settled in on me albeit six years late that my life had really and truly changed beyond any recognition of its former incarnation.

I took stock. I was divorced. I have two small children by two different women -What do I, play in the NBA? I scolded myself. And I divide my time poorly between New York and Ireland, living in neither place peacefully. How did this happen to me? The facts were easy to trace. I had married my college sweetheart, we then had a child, the culmination of our youthful love, and we split. I met a woman and after four days she moved to America; a week later, she was pregnant. That all seemed kind of quick, except for the days early on when morning sickness was in full bloom, those days seemed very long. It was then, during solitary afternoon walks in the woods, that I decided I would move to Bolivia, alone. But then our daughter was born and love saved the day. So that’s how I got to be on the bus in Ireland, that much was clear but like I said, those are just facts. So much of the why of it all has remained a mystery to me.

But as the bus inched along, I told myself, Hey, it’s normal that I’m just now realizing how different my life is, a lot has happened, fast, and I’m just getting my head above water. But what ever the reason, the veil was dropping, and it was becoming clear to me what perhaps should have been clear from the very start: My simple, well-ordered life would never come back again. And to make matters worse, the realization dawned on me that I was no longer calling all the shots, and the few I was calling went challenged, disregarded, or unheard.

Running my own life when I was alone, it was easy to fool myself into thinking that I was doing a terrific job orchestrating things. After all, there was no one around to contradict me, and, hey, maybe I was, but with a new partner I was still getting to know, I wasn’t even sure if she liked me yet. I was making one wrong move after the next. And as we disembarked and crammed into her parents car, I felt like the teenager I had not been in many, many years. I tried to laugh along as my struggles with the Bugaboo were recounted in the car and again later that evening at the family dinner table. But I felt alone in it all, isolated and misunderstood. Then, as everyone around me heartily dove into a dessert, I proudly refused out of self- pity, I felt suddenly like the Grinch when he’s atop Mt. Crumpit: My heart seemed to verily burst open and all the love I normally hold in check, for fear of being decimated by its loss or by its rejection, poured out. I sat motionless as a feeling of calm descended upon me, a feeling that I would not admit to anyone until much later once it had receded. But there was no denying that it has left its mark.

The Bugaboo had proven to be a perfect receptacle for my occasional fits of resentment at my situation my loving more than I ever thought I could, and allowing myself to be loved by more people than I ever thought I would. And in that love I have come to realize just how little say I have and just how lucky I am to be so far out on an emotional limb.

Excerpted from Afterbirth: Stories You Won’t Read in a Parenting Magazine, edited by Dani Klein Modisett.

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extremehunt10 The Bugaboo


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