“Why don’t you two move in with me?” Yossi says when we’re out for breakfast.
“Excuse me?” I say, almost choking.
Mae looks up from her hot chocolate, wide-eyed.
Where is this coming from? And shouldn’t this be an adults-only conversation?
But Yossi is Mr. Spur-Of-The-Moment. Where I can obsess for days about our relationship, he will blurt out whatever is on his mind. Moreover, he approaches everything rationally. (Dare I say, like a man?)
When I first met Yossi nine months ago, the city had just approved his long-awaited building plans to add a second floor to his Berkeley house, two miles from me. He’s been itching to add on to his house for years, and he has big plans. The floor above his living quarters — where his motorcycle sits smack dab in the middle of the living room — is going to be the Pool Room. Nothing but sticks and balls, and maybe a bar. This is going to be a man’s digs.
Forty-four-year-old Yossi is the last bachelor standing among his male friends, and they are psyched about his plan. This is going to be their boys-only clubhouse. Any time that Yossi talks about his pool table, his eyes light up.
Except that he often adds mid-sentence, “I’d like a family, too.”
What a contradiction. Every time he talks about the pool table, it’s right between us. I take a step back and wonder if he’s been single too long; maybe he’s not ready to blend into our little family. Of course, the last thing I want to do is take away what he loves — playing pool with his friends. But unless I become an overnight pool shark, I don’t see how this all fits together.
Still, I’ve always been turned on by a man who can build a house. One of his areas of expertise is building foundations: Doesn’t that say it all? Here’s a hard-working man who not only puts a roof over your head, he makes sure that the ground underneath you is solid. With his place under construction, he’s been spending almost every night with us for months. Maybe this is his practical means of bringing everyone officially under one roof?
Everywhere that Yossi goes, his tape measure hangs off his belt. His jeans are stained with white dabs of plaster. His big black boots pound on the earth. And it totally turns me on. If you give me a problem, I turn emotional, up and down within minutes. But Yossi is a fixer. When faced with a crisis, he will do anything to make it right. After all, his days are spent putting up walls, adding rooms, repairing foundations.
But something also terrifies me: Mae’s father worked in construction, too. I seem to have this thing for rock-solid, hard-working men who use their hands. Unfortunately, in the end, her father didn’t turn out to be very rock-solid or hard-working.
“We could try it,” Yossi says this morning, as he pours syrup on top of his pancake. “Just take this step and see how it goes.”
There’s a big piece of mushroom crepe in my mouth. Try it? I don’t want to play house. See how it goes? This is a real child here — my daughter — not a doll.
He’s caught me off guard. I turn red.
“You’re blushing,” he says. “Look at you!”
I stop chewing. “Did you just say, ‘Move in with you’?”
“Uh, I don’t know,” I say. “What about your pool room?”
“The pool room can wait,” he says.
It’s hard for me to swallow. This charming invitation is coming from one of the manliest men I’ve ever met, a guy who owns three trucks and every kind of power tool.
“I’m offering you what I have,” Yossi says. “The second floor is almost done. I’m not sure where Mae’s room will go, but we can figure that out.”
I put my fork down. Is he serious? I don’t want to rush into anything and walk straight into a blind alley where I can’t turn back. And what happened to his impatience for a baby? Shouldn’t we discuss this first?
But he’s still talking. “I’ll ask you to cover half of the monthly mortgage,” he says. “But that will be less than what you’re paying now in rent.”
He’s so practical and matter-of-fact. All nuts and bolts. For him, this is about splitting the bills and paying the mortgage. But I’m wondering: Will he go to Mae’s soccer games and parent-teacher conferences? Will he read her bedtime stories? Will he make her macaroni and cheese the way she likes it?
Someone get me a drink of water. Let me swallow this first. I need to know how we’ll fit into his life. Or, how he’ll fit into ours. Still, I’m touched. Now that the shock is wearing off, I actually smile.
“Can we get a kitten?” I ask. I don’t know why I say this. It’s the first thing that comes to my mind, and maybe it’s a test. Will my needs be met, too?
“A kitty!” screams Mae, who has been listening eagerly all this time.
“And a dog,” Yossi says.
That’s when my eyes fill with tears.
“Oh no, sweetie,” he says. “Are you crying? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” I sniffle. “Everything is just right.”