Monday morning already. I quelched the desire to pee on a stick, disassembled my couch-cushion bed, and drove over my beloved Highway 17 to my beloved alma mater, San Jose State University. I headed straight to Faculty Offices, home of the English and Humanities professors, and made my presence known. Wrote a check for the Harvey Birenbaum scholarship fund, and caught Ed Sams as he returned from teaching.
“Lynn!” he called. We hugged, and upon pulling away he looked into my face. “You look… in the pink.” Ed always could make me blush — it's that Southern gentlemanness about him.
I met Steve and Sue for lunch at La Victoria, and Ellen made a surprise appearance, too. I ate a super burrito and drank three huge watermelon aguas frescas. Steve took the best picture of me that's been recorded since my wedding, and he even managed to hide all the burrito spots on my shirt.
When Steve got up to clear the table, I leaned in conspiritorially to the other ladies and confessed, “I might be bringing a surprise home to Brian.”
They became quiet.
“A baby?” Sue asked, hushed.
In the same hushed voice, Ellen asked, “Is it Brian's?”
We broke up laughing. “Of course!” I spurted.
Steve returned to the table with a “what's so funny” look on his face. I clued him in. “I'm four days late.” He met the news with a big, “Wow!”
Steve, Sue, and I walked back to my rental car. Steve's youngest son is about to graduate high school. “It's funny…” he said, “you're starting the kid journey just as I'm finishing it.”
“Well, I don't know for certain…” I replied.
“It'll happen,” he said.
We all hugged goodbye and I drove to the San Jose International Airport, where I returned my rental car and hopped the shuttle to the terminal. After a mulit-hour delay, I arrived in Portland, where Anne met me once I'd received my luggage. She'd been my matron of honor at my wedding, and I hadn't seen her since her MFA graduation the previous spring. I missed her entire pregnancy and was itching to hold her new little boy.
“I can't explain how much love you feel for one little person,” she told me on our way to her car. “It's just amazing. I think you have to have a baby to understand it.”
“Well, I might be closer than you think,” I admitted. “I'm many days late and have been fighting the urge to pee on a stick all day.
Anne, always a woman of action, determined that orningwe must go to RiteAid before even going home. Brian had worked at the drug store in Chico for years, so it seemed the proper choice.
“Where are they?” I asked as we walked through the automatic glass door.
“In the pharmacy, under the condoms.”
“How convenient,” I replied. “Which kind should I get?”
“If you're a few days late, it shouldn't matter, but this is the one I used,” Anne said, pulling a blue First Response box off the shelf.
“It must be good luck then,” I said. We paid and left.
Duncan was asleep when we arrived, swaddled in his swingy chair, a cassette tape of a vaccuum cleaner blaring next to him.
“The white noise helps calm him down,” Marc said. We hung around talking for a couple of hours. Finally, Anne said, “are you going to keep me in suspense?”
I smiled. “I think I'll do it first thing in the morning. Otherwise, either way I'll lose sleep.” She grudgingly agreed.
Still no period. I selected The Lovely Bones from the bookcase in the living room and went downstairs to read and sleep.
The next morning I awoke at quarter to six, dying to pee but refraining until I'd taken my temperature. It was 97.7, the same as it had been since I started charting the week before. I hippity-hopped to the bathroom, tore open a test strip, made certain to pee on the correct end for the requisite five seconds. I put the cap back on the stick to limit the ick factor and looked at the directions: One stripe no, two stripes yes.
No sooner had I finished reading the directions than the second stripe blazed through, clear as a Massachusetts day after the snow.
I went back to bed, read, and shook until Anne came in with Duncan more than an hour later.
“Coooongratulations!” she cried.
“Thank you! Leave it to you to scope the test stick before I could even tell you,” I said.
“Well, you left it in plain sight,” she said.
“Only because it was too heavy to lift,” I admitted.