Kristen McConnell

Halloween Dance Party on the Farm


I went up to Joseph’s farm for their Halloween party. It was a nice party, everybody was friendly, my belly had speedily gone from being “big” in the sense of looking pregnant to being objectively big. It seemed to grow in jumps and starts, it was twice as big as it had been the week before. I was proud of myself for dancing: I’ve been missing it and worried that I wouldn’t ever be able to dance without drinking.

I noticed that nobody congratulated Joseph or said anything at all to him about the baby, at least not in front of me. We didn’t really talk during the party—at one point while I was dancing he came over and grabbed me and I said, “What?” thinking that he was trying to take me somewhere or tell me something, and he just said, “Dance.” But when it got late we went to sleep in his bed, and I was feeling particularly excitable, and we actually had a good time together, in the pitch black darkness on his tiny, creaky mattress. He was snoring fifteen seconds after he came, and rolling over on top of me nearly edging me off the bed, and I lay awake listening to the party die down.

When I woke up I felt antsy. The sun was streaming through the window and I couldn’t waste the earliness on the farm to snuggle with a sleeping bear. The day moved through a series of groggy good mornings to all the souls rising from different places on the farm and several rounds of hearty breakfasts, to everyone pitching in to unload the truck that had been to the Union Square market the day before, and again I barely spoke to Joseph until I told him I needed to and he suggested we take a walk. So we trudged along the same old paths we had walked in June, talking about the same old thing. Sort of.

I told him that I’ve been upset lately, “cause I feel like we don’t talk about this.” “About what?” he asked.

“That we’re having a baby.”

He told me that there aren’t very many facts he can give me at this point.

“It’s not so much facts that I want…I don’t know what you think about it, how you feel, what you think about me. I know it was really emotional for you to decide to start talking to me again, but I don’t even know what happened.”

“I didn’t anticipate having to make statements about my feelings.”

“It’s not that I want you to make statements, it’s that I want to know how you feel.”

We were sitting in the back of the truck, picking at bits of leafy greens. He said that having the baby is abnormal and that abnormal things are really humiliating. I asked him if this experience was humiliating for him and he said no, but it might be humiliating for me.

I told him that for me, having the baby is normal now. I’ve stopped thinking of it as an extreme, bizarre thing to do. He said that he was not going to form a domestic partnership with me and saw that that was what I wanted. That he always knew that what would be complicated about this would not be his relationship to her, but to me. He wants us to have open communication, and he thinks that we do.

Then he said that it is not clear to him what his relationship with the baby is going to look like, but as far as he can tell, it looks like this: “She’s gonna live with you, and I’m gonna visit as much as I can.” He said that he’s probably going to come for the birth and I asked, “Probably?” because he had already told me that he would come.

“I mean, I’ve said I’m like 80% sure I’ll come.”

“Oh. I thought you said you were gonna come.”

“I mean, yeah, I’m probably gonna come.”

I was surprised to realize that he didn’t have anything to say to me. I thought that he had been upset too, but he acted as if I was coming out of left field.

The “domestic partnership” phrase he used struck me. I would never have claimed to want that from him, but when he said it I realized it described pretty well what I was seeking. As I sat listening to him, I thought, of course, it only makes sense for me to not get what I want, instead of just not getting what I don’t want. I’ve had plenty of conversations about not wishing I was married and not even wishing he were my boyfriend. But it was naïve to have thought that the things I didn’t want anyway were the extent of what I don’t have, that I’d simply lucked out. It makes sense now: I just don’t get what I want, of course, okay, got it. It’s not so bad, really, to realize that there is something concrete that you want and you’re not going to get. It’s better in a way than feeling distressed because you don’t know what it is you are being denied. It calmed me down.

Our conversation was over and after hanging around the farm for a few hours, city dwellers got ready to go home. After I said goodbye to Joseph I ran back into the house to pee, and while I was sitting on the toilet he asked, “Kristen?” and then barged in and kissed me on the mouth and walked back out.

This is an excerpt from a memoir-in-progress.

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