Surviving Me

By Jo Johnson

Tom has decided he doesn’t want to live, Adam wishes he had that choice.

Last night Siri was brighter than she’s been for some time. She even called me by name, which is unusual at the moment. Things are tense: I blame the failed baby-making. Siri is desperate for children, which is perfectly reasonable. I had thought that providing one viable sperm for her willing eggs would be a low-level job even I could manage.

I guess it's normal to settle into a less dynamic routine after ‘the honeymoon period’, but since we have been ‘trying’ things have deteriorated dramatically. Now it's a good sign if she gives me eye contact during the evening. Using my name or actually speaking to me is a bonus.

Phase one began one Sunday evening, 13 months ago… We were talking about nothing in particular when she said she wanted to start a family. It came as a surprise to me as we had only been married a fortnight. She reminded me that one of the reasons for getting married was so we didn't produce what her mother describes as ‘a child out of wedlock’. I had accepted that, but I’d been hoping we might enjoy a few months of marital bliss first. Her brother's wife, Heather, was heavily pregnant with baby number three and she felt we were being left behind. She said that, at 25 and 36, we were running out of time.

Having children was not something I had thought much about before I met Siri. When we got together we agreed to do the family thing one day and whenever she talks about her life plan, it includes children, but we still hadn't talked about it seriously, in my view. Siri claimed we had talked of nothing else for the last eight months. My impression is we have talked about our wedding and nothing else for the last eight months. Mostly, those conversations didn’t end well.

‘Shall we have gold rings or platinum?’

‘Whatever you fancy, sweetheart.’

‘Tom, don’t be so passive, it’s your wedding too. What sort of favours shall we do for the

guests? 

‘What? We have to return a favour in exchange for attendance at our wedding?’

‘Tom, don’t be stupid, I explained this weeks ago. We could have sweets as favours, or bottles of drink with our initials on or a personalised balloon to take home…’

‘How ridiculous. That’s going to be heaps of money and who wants a piece of tat with our names on?’

‘Heather says everyone gives favours these days.’

‘But we don’t mix in the same circles as Heather. I am sure people who use interior designers

have an owl to present their rings and swans in the photographs, but we are not that kind of people, are we?’

‘What kind of people are we then? People who have a cheap wedding day that their friends gossip about for all the wrong reasons?’

‘Apologies. Here I am thinking our wedding day is about us getting married because we love

each other and want to spend the rest of our lives together. I hadn’t realised we are just trying to impress your middle-England friends.’

At this point Siri would gather up her bridezilla magazines and do a teenage stomp to the bedroom to ponder the important details of our wedding on her own, leaving me to ponder what on earth I was doing. We always made up before bedtime, though: that’s one of my rules.

One of the things that instantly attracted me to Siri was her dedication to planning her personal life; she does it with the same serious application as she plans her career. She has even decided the songs she wants at her funeral and how her body will be disposed of. I do feel the post-death plans are slightly obsessive.

People say that opposites attract: Siri would have written the plan for her own birth whereas I stumble through life, jumping on to the next stone in my path without analysing how it fits with past, present or future plans.

Siri plans the big things but is useless with the small details: when or what we are going to eat, how we budget, pay the rent or where we will put our many children when we can't afford a two-bedroomed flat. I, on the other hand, can't think past next month but everyday details need addressing and my living space has to be ordered and clean. This difference in our approach is a frequent source of intense and loud debate between us. 

On that Sunday, Siri decided we were ready to enter baby-making: stage one. It was never

destined to be ‘Let’s just see what happens’, I knew her too well for that. We were entering the preparation phase when we get healthy, eat clean, give up everything nice, sleep well and exercise regularly. I nodded and smiled as men do when they can't be bothered to argue. She pointed out to me that I had it easy: she had to take lots of supplements, give up coffee and avoid blue cheese and I just had to wear loose pants.

I was prepared to step on to the next stone placed in front of me – and if it was going to be the baby stone, so be it.

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