In California, it is raining. The skies have opened and the gods have spoken to us in tears. They might be tears of joy. Or horror. They are belly laughing thunder and winking lightening. They are waving at us with wind that whips palm trees all the way down the street.
Tonight I had a rare free night and the not-uncommon urge to shop for boots, so I went to the usual haunts in Pasadena. Hurrying with my purchase back to the parking garage, I saw a girl bundled up in a black coat, underneath a multicolored umbrella. Her sopping cardboard sign said “Expectant mother. Please help with donation.”
A story flashes in my mind. We will connect and she will see that I am a warm and good human being, and she will mention she’s looking for an adoptive family for her child. And, I will tell her that I have completed my homestudy and am looking to adopt. And here is my card. And can we go somewhere and have a cocoa? And we will bond over that cocoa, and the she will have her baby in the spring and I will help to deliver the baby, and take that baby home to the room in my house painted white and spring green, while she pursues her dreams to become a scientist at an Ivy League school (after two years of community college). And we will spend every Mothers’ day together, with that child. This vision lasts all of three seconds.
I went up to her. “Are you really pregnant?”
“Yes,” she said. “Six months.”
“Do you know about Casa Teresa in Santa Ana?” I asked.
“A lot of people have told me about places for single mothers. But I want to be with the baby’s father 24/7.” She gestured to a boy about 10 feet away, under his own red umbrella. “Neither of us grew up with fathers. It’s better for the baby to have a father.”
I looked at her for what seemed like a while. Pale skin. Watery blue eyes. No eyelashes as far as I could tell. I don’t know why the word “METH” came to me in capital letters in my brain, but it did. Perhaps all they keep telling us at the fost-adopt training has scared the bejeezus out of me and sunk in. Or maybe she’s having a girl and, as the Old Wives tell it, the girl has stolen her beauty.
“Oh,” I said.
She looked down at my Coach handbag.
“Well, good luck,” I told her.
“Thanks,” she said.
I walked away thinking that I probably should have given her $5 or $10 or however much cash I had in my wallet. And then I wonder if standing in the rain asking for money is really better for the baby. And then I know that it is not my place to wonder these things. Because it just Is.