I needed a break. I slipped into 40 Carrots, a bustling restaurant in the basement of Bloomingdale’s, coveted for its plain frozen yogurt and half-sandwich-soup deals, just beyond the plus-size section. I didn’t exactly slip, actually. I assumed a sawhorse stance on a line of lady lunchers, and when it was my turn, I was offered a seat at the counter.
“Actually, I’ll wait for a table.” Sometimes I’m in the mood for the counter, but I was tired. And when you’re tired, a table seems more suitable for slouching and leaning on your elbows. I was ushered to a table with another single—a woman in her fifties with bifocals, stacked wedding bands, and a caramel sweater twin set. She was halfway through a large glass bowl of chocolate frozen yogurt, with side dishes of sliced bananas and granola. Mostly, she was pushing her spoon over the top, as if she were icing a cupcake, creating smooth even lines of sugary bakery.
I ordered my plain yogurt with a mix of strawberries and bananas, as the woman across from me paid her check. Once my treat arrived so did a new restaurant patron, lead to the unoccupied seat beside mine. She was one of those women who wore a size zero and always asked the sales associate if it came in extra-small. Sometimes I forget that petite people age. When I was young, I used to associate height with age, so I was surprised that she looked forty-four even in a four ft. something frame. She ordered a bowl of chili and creased open a new paperback book. I couldn’t help but glare at her pear-shaped ten-carat ring while I tried to get a glimpse of her chosen book title. She’d stacked platinum and yellow gold bands up to her knuckle surrounding her engagement ring. I’d be getting married the next day.
A blond energetic woman in black athletic clothes plopped into the seat across from mine. “I’m pregnant,” she said, “I can’t help myself.” She meant she was waiting for another table, but needed to wait at ours while it was being set. She was tired. She didn’t look it.
“How far along are you?” I asked. And then I came to learn that we were actually three strangers, sharing a table, each of us pregnant. I love this about strangers: the fact that so many of them can become important to us. Our first kiss, lover, friend. I love the idea that the stranger beside us can change our lives, can become the person with whom we grow old, on a porch somewhere down south, sipping sweet tea. Although I wouldn’t exchange numbers with these women, or most likely, ever see them again, I still take pleasure in the idea. People write predictable fiction that begins this way.
The woman beside me was on her third child and insisted Old Navy and Gap maternity clothes ran way too big. I’d go online that night and order some. They discussed pre-schools and tutoring. Waitlists. I was thankful, in that moment, that I no longer lived in Manhattan. While I loved being seated with strangers and learning our commonalities, I became afraid I’d be caught up in a whirl of panic and hype if I remained in New York, convinced my babes wouldn’t be the brightest if they weren’t learning French at “the” school. I suppose it’s no different here in Texas, or any city, really. We all want brilliant, well-adjusted children; I just hope I continue to realize I can do my part, from anywhere, as long as I’m involved in their lives and learning. If only I could find plain, tart, frozen yogurt here. I’m going out today to meet some strangers in search of some.
*And, as a total aside, but I still feel the need to document it for when I look back at these archives, I’ve been stressing lately about the babies. Fetal movement. I go to the doctor this Wednesday for a regular check up, and then soon after for a triple screen (I think that’s what it’s called). So I’ll know then if everything is okay. I read in books how sometimes during your second trimester you stop feeling signs of being pregnant and panic. That’s me, but not full on panic, but panic enough that last night I was searching "fetal movement at five months," finding myself reading message boards. I’m sure it’s normal. Bubbles, I should feel. Flutters. Popcorn popping. But a muscle spasm after an orgasm is not the same as feeling the babies. I will just have to be patient. At least until Wednesday when I get to see them again via ultrasound. Woo hoo!