the elements

I am at Panera and I’m eavesdropping on two men.

“What’s new? Or shouldn’t I ask?”
“Oh, you shouldn’t even ask.” A brief pause, as if to indicate how juicy the next bit will be, and then: “It’s supposed to get up to 40 this weekend.”

Which reminds me of this – being pregnant is like being the weather. I am always something to talk about.

Specifically, I am something for a stranger to talk about. A customer waits for their coffee and “Getting chilly out there” becomes “When are you due?” or “Boy or girl?” or “When I had my son…” Talking about the body of a stranger is usually not appropriate. People don’t just ask about a bandage on the face or a missing leg or “My, you have a lot of freckles!” But the body of a mother is within limits because we all have mothers, we know them. The body of a mother is part of the universal experience, like the sun on your face.

I become something to comment on or something to compare as if I am a storm sweeping in or last winter compared to the inevitable winter before us. “You’re so tiny! I was huge.” “Wow, about to pop any day now, huh? Oh, still 6 weeks to go?”

At times it is welcome, as if we both know and delight in the weather – like when a mother at the grocery store quietly wishes me congratulations as I finish bagging my purchases.

Or when a young man at the library exclaims his congratulations, then covers his mouth as if to catch his volume, his eyes wide and laughing. The whole library must have heard. “Sorry, congratulations,” he whispers.

At times it is like this, like the magic of a first snow and somehow you end up making eye contact with a stranger and you both smile and you could almost hug them.

Other times, often, I am merely on display. I am not quite a person, I am a force to be observed.