By late October Marla had adjusted to her new reality. Both sides of the family were completely
on board with the new addition. They were still not aware of what the sex of the baby was, but
whatever it was going to be, they were ready. Marla still wasn’t sure if she was going to finish
school in the Spring or if she was going to wait to finish the semester the next year. That was one
of the scariest things for her to decide. They both decided that she couldn’t stop working. She
was too good at what she did to stop. She did not have a hard time thinking about names, colors
or even when she would see Bruno anymore. There was a rhythm to his schedule that she had
fallen into. He was there and then he wasn’t. But when he was there he was there 1000%. He
went to several doctors appointments with her and he loved every second of it. Marla did put off
training for the half marathon they had discussed months in the past, but, she really didn’t have
time to think about it. Amidst all the school, doctor’s appointments and family time Marla had to
fit in, they were also looking for a house – a house big enough to grow into.
“I want one with a pool. And a big room where I can put all my stuff. “ he told her as they sat on
the couch flipping through houses that a realtor had sent them.
“As long as we have 3 bedrooms and a huge kitchen – that’s all I want.” she told him.
“This one….” he stopped on a traditional Californian home in West Hollywood. It was painted
grey with a white picket fence in the front. He clicked on the pictures.
“Oh…my……” she was speechless. “And look at the kitchen…” she moved his hand from the
mouse to click through the photos. He moved his hand out of her way.
“Do you want to look at it, Marley?” he asked her.
“I don’t need to look at it Bruno. I know this is our house. Call the realtor now.”
Three days later, Marla was sitting in her class of 15 when her phone vibrated. Bruno still didn’t
understand the concept of class. There was a schedule. She was there every Tuesday and
Thursday from 10 am to 11:30 AM – no matter where he was. That day he was in Amsterdam.
He had left just the day before. They had put in an offer for the house after he insisted they went
to look at it later that day. It was as beautiful as she gushed. Her professor – an experienced grant
writer and a former non-profit executive was rambling about keywords to use in Requests for
Proposals. Marla, along with her classmates had drifted away long before her phone vibrated.
“Ms. Gonzales, are you going to answer that?” her professor asked.
“Umm, no. He can wait. Or leave a message. Either way.”
Marla had only told 10 of her very close classmates about her relationship and only 4 of them –
the 4 that she had been partnered with since day 1 – about the pregnancy. She knew that it would
be somewhat scandalous once everyone found out. It would somehow get to the undergrads and
then to the whole school. It would be over by then. She was surprised that many more people
hadn’t found out that she was dating him. Since that evening at Pinot they had only been spotted
together at 2 other events. No one had bothered her either. She got nervous, though, every time
someone questioned her about anything. Her phone vibrated again.
“Are you famous or something?” her professor asked as it vibrated.
“Maybe in a small town or something…I’ll be right back…I’m so sorry.”
She excused herself and walked outside.
“Hi?” she answered the phone.
“You’re in class aren’t you?” he asked her.
“Yeah…and I think they think I have a stalker or something.”
“You do. It’s me.” he responded. “Oh…but the real reason I called was to tell you we got the
house. It’s ours, baby doll!”
“Oh, Bruno that’s so great! What do I need to do? You’re not going to be home for a few more
weeks right?” He explained the details to her. She needed to show up at the inspection, go to the
office, sign her name on the deed (he was paying for the house she was paying part of the
taxes… it made her feel like she was contributing something) and the house would be theirs. If
the house passed the inspection, which it likely would, they would get the keys that Saturday. “I
love you, Bruno Mars! You are amazing!” she said loudly. A group of undergrads glanced over
at her excitement. She rolled her eyes and shook her head to indicate that she was just being silly.
“I will talk to you later, love you.” she hung up her phone and hurried back into her classroom.
Marla threw all her bags on the floor of her apartment. Boxes were all over the place. She had
only lived there for 2 years, but it felt like home. Her bright colors and microfiber were going to
be replaced by cool neutrals and leather. She threw down her large book that she was using to
complete a grant writing assignment. “Blah blah blah. I’m so bored with this, baby. Let’s dance.”
Marla turned the TV on to the Pop Music cable channel. They played good music occasionally,
but most of the time it dated back to 2008. She often times found herself bored with it.
Thursday midevening, though, seemed to be an exceptionally good night for the TV station.
Marla grabbed her remote, pulled out her bun, pushed the boxes out of her way and started
dancing to every song that came on. She had no idea why it was just perfect. It was the first time,
in a long time, that she was really happy. She forgot about the stress of the pregnancy, school,
moving, not marrying the father of her child and all that accompanied that. She belted out
OneRepublic’s Good Life as loud as she could. She closed her eyes and sang… before she got to
the chorus a hand grabbed her remote and started singing with her. Bruno started performing a
duet with her. She sang off tune and off key while he sang perfectly. He threw the verse back to
her and she threw it back to him. They ended with:
“Sometimes there's airplanes I can' t jump out
Sometimes there's bullshit that don't work now
We are god of stories but please tell me-e-e-e
What there is to complain aboutttttttttttttttttttttt
The station quickly transitioned into a very familiar song
Her eyes, her eyes….
He grabbed her so close that she couldn’t breathe. “You are amazing.” he said to her sweetly.
“Just the way you are.” she laughed.
“Turn off the TV, crazy.” he continued to hold her while walking toward the TV, turning down
“Stop….stop for a second. Put your hand right there…” she grabbed his warm hand quickly and
placed it on the side of her stomach.
“Se siente esto?” she asked him.
“Sí.” he answered her. “It’s…it’s…wow…”
Bright and early Saturday morning the two hopped in the car to meet the realtor at the new
house. Marla could not stop talking about paint colors for the extra bedrooms and replacing his
“Promise me you won’t drop any boxes when you move this time, Bruno.” she told him referring
to his last move which ended in 4 stitches to his chin.
“I’m not going to promise you anything of the sort, Mar.” he told her laughing.
“Okay, just don’t bleed too much. You know I can’t handle the blood. It’s almost as gross as
The realtor was standing at the door in his million dollar suite with the keys. They exchange
pleasantries and said good-bye.
“Wait, don’t go inside yet.” Bruno grasped her hand as she put her key in the door.
“But I want to open the door! You told me I could open the dooooor!” Bruno took a deep breath
letting go of her hand.
“Go ahead. Open the door.”
She opened the door expecting an empty house. She was welcomed to an entry way full of
pictures from the past few months. Pictures from the m.a.m.a earth event, their first date, the Los
Angeles concerts, Las Vegas, their recent trip to Toronto all surrounded by candles and roses.
An envelope was tapped to the top of the most recent photo – a 5 x 7 of their baby.
“Open it.” he whispered.
She opened the envelope to find two tickets to the UCLA/USC basketball game. A small yellow
post-it fell out of the envelope. She bent down to pick-it up. 763 (it’s not baseball season). She
started to cry. She blamed it on her hormones, but had she not been pregnant she probably would
have cried anyway. She touched every picture as if she was the only one in the room. There was
an empty frame near the living room. “What’s this one for?” she asked him.
It was the first time he had planned anything in their relationship. He had a whole speech thought
out. He had Phil and Eric and even Marla’s father help him write a sappy cheesy speech about
why he wanted to marry her. But all he could think of saying was, “Marla…it’s for us. I want it
to be us, forever.” He got down on one knee, pulled out a glittering ring and asked,
“Will….will…you spend the rest of your life with me? Marry me?” He stopped himself from
saying please. He tried to slip the ring on her finger, but it wasn’t working. He knew she was a
size 5 and a half. She always was.
“Oh, Bruno, yes! I’ll marry you. “She took the ring from him and put it on her pinky finger.
“They got really swollen this week.” She kissed him gently and hugged him tightly.
‘I don’t know what I would have done if you said no…” he said grabbing her.
“Well, I wouldn’t have disappointed you like that.” She smiled.
Marla sat surrounded by friends, family, co-workers and piles covered with pink and yellow
boxes in their enormous house.
“I don’t know what to do with all of these.” she said happily.
“Well you need to open them,” Angie told her.
“I know, that, silly....but…there is just….just so much! So much for one little girl!” Marla
glanced down at all the boxes and sighed heavily. Everyone else was gushing over the arrival of
the baby, which was coming in two months. Marla had decided to take the year off of school to
see what it was like to be a mother, to just be. It was only fair. But, Bruno wasn’t taking any time
off. After settling into the perfect home late in the semester they ran off to Hawaii. She loved it.
He loved it. It was perfect. Except for the fact that he had to be in Paris for a New Year’s Eve
concert. And then it all started over again. He promised her he would be there for her when the
baby was there. He was going to take time off after the Grammy’s. She tried to believe him, to
continually and unconditionally support him, but it was hard to do when he was only supporting
her through text messages, rare skype sessions and late night phone calls that ended in her falling
asleep to his voice. And then there was the “let’s get married” thing. When was that going to
happen? They never talked about it. When they did they argued. She said she didn’t want to get
married just to say they were married. He said it was the right thing to do. It was the only thing
they ever argued about. Marla tried to explain to him that it didn’t matter if her last name was
Hernandez. It just mattered that the people they loved knew that they loved each other. But that
was the best way to show the people they loved that they love each other, to get married – wasn’t
it? He would ask her. She had seen so many relationships, in her work, fall apart, after marriage.
She didn’t want that to happen. He said they were different. Everything about them was
different. They would make it. And then she started to yell and say they weren’t different. They
weren’t different at all. And she went on like that until she started to cry. He hugged her and
kissed her and said that the two of them weren’t perfect, but who was? And it didn’t matter if
they were married or not. Then she would say she was craving shrimp tacos and peanut butter.
And he would bring it to her. And everything was perfect again, until the next time.
“Marla, we’ll help you put it all together. You know that.” one of Bruno’s sisters replied as
Marla opened a big box – a baby swing. Her expression was one of overwhelming grief. She just
had no idea what she was going to do. It didn’t matter if the whole world was going to help her
put together a baby bottle, she just wanted one person to help her put together the baby bottle,
and that one person wasn’t there. She got up from the chair and walked outside and sat on a
bench facing the detached garage. All she could do was cry.
The party goers tried to decide who to send outside to comfort her. Her mother, no. She had tried
to comfort her but no matter what she said to her it just made it worse. Lisa? No, she just made it
worse because Travis was always there. Angie? No. Just no. They settled on Phil’s wife, who
just a year and a half ago and been on a similar journey.
“Marla?” she sat down next to her rubbing her shoulders. “I know it’s hard. It never gets easier.
When we were little we wished for the perfect world. A house, 2.5 children, a dog…a picket
fence… but there’s this thing called fate that just hits us and for you and me…these two boys just
hit us really hard.”
“Too hard.” she got out through her tears. “All I want is for him to be sitting next to me. That’s
all I want. I don’t need all these presents, I don’t need this house, I don’t need this fancy new car
that we bought. The Jetta was fine. I…I just want…he said he wouldn’t ever let go. He let go.”
One of Marla’s only true equals, Phil’s wife knew almost exactly what she was going through.
The couple had two children and had been through the whole year seeing each other as many
times as Bruno as she had seen each other. It amazed Marla how committed to each other they
were. She saw them together the first time at the m.a.m.a. earth event. It made her smile. As
inseparable as Phil and Bruno were before, they were even more inseparable now that Bruno had
found Marla. And now it was Urbana’s turn to help Marla sort through all of this.
“This is hard, Mar. I know it. Like really hard. I’ve wanted to give up so many times. Just say
‘fuck it’ and leave. Take the boys and run away to Arizona. Just leave it all. But then I remember
that it takes a lot to make it work. And if anyone knows anything about hard work it’s you and
it’s Bruno. Maybe in two completely different ways, but the two of you have worked so hard to
get to where you are. And you can’t stop just because the last few weeks have been hard.”
Marla stopped to think about her last statement. Last few weeks. She was right. It really has been
the last few weeks. It was in the middle of January. This was no different than any other time
when he was gone. He would be back. He would hold her and that little baby as tight as she had
remembered in only 4 more days. What was she thinking? She was still upset he wasn’t there, at
the baby shower opening those gifts with her, but she knew he would be sitting next to her in just
days. Just another marathon. She was going to have to start running ultras soon. “You’re right.
They’ll be back soon. Let’s go finish up this fiesta.”