It was a secret. We had just discovered the truth. A baby. We were going to have a baby.
Back in the old days, (old days: a mere 35 years!) There were no home-pregnancy tests, and to discover the truth you had to wait until you were two weeks beyond your missed period before going to your doctor. Then you waited for a call because the test itself, even at the doctor’s office, took a good two hours for results, and often it was inconclusive and you had to go back to the doctor and start the process again. So in those days you were lucky to know for absolute fact that you were pregnant before being eight weeks along. We had just hit that mark, and had told no one.
Al’s sister, Martha was down from Ithica, N.Y., visiting a friend for Russian Christmas in Lake Orion, Michigan and invited us to the party. Al and Martha were close, yet not close, as so many siblings are, but we knew she would be the first to hear our news.
The log cabin sparkled through the snow with lights and conviviality. There was laughter and talking, and there may have even been music, but I don’t remember that now.
Being somewhat introverted, I sat a bit apart and watched. I was twenty, but young with it. That was really the first party I had attended as an adult. So I sat and watched and thought about the life within me.
On the sofa facing mine sat two young mothers, their babies asleep beside them. One in a stroller, one in one of those Moses baskets I desperately wanted.
One mother tapped her friend on the knee and pointed upstairs to the bathroom. Her friend nodded and watched her go to stake out her place in line. In the way of babies everywhere, as soon as Momma was gone, she started fussing. The friend who stayed moved to sit between her baby and her friend’s and rocked the Moses basket, making shushing noises, but it soon became apparent that this baby wasn’t going to settle so easily.
The friend picked up the baby and began to sway and hum, but the baby began to fuss more, and to pull at the woman’s shirt. Without a thought, without a look around, the woman put her friend’s baby to her breast.
In that moment the world tilted a little, and I became a mother. Or maybe I should say I became one of the collective.
Of course I knew that all people were one. I was fortunate in having a mother who believed in equality for everyone; I was fortunate in having two gay ‘uncles’ whom I loved, and in having grown up in Southern California in the 1970s, where I had friends of many races and backgrounds.
I do understand anger, and I do understand resentment, and hatred and I know how awful the world can be, and that that the world is bigger than a group of people at a party.
But it was at that moment, sitting at a party among strangers, hugging to myself the knowledge of the life growing inside me, as a young, black mother put her friend’s white baby to her breast, that I felt that core-deep connection to humanity that bonded me to mankind for all time.
We are one.