The latest in a series about what it’s like to be out and about in this small town in a rural county in the Midwest….
It was late February and the final weekend before the birth mother’s due date. The adoption was still an imminent possibility.
We made a list of everything we’d need for the three of us and a baby for up to 10 days in Illinois.
That’s how I ended up at Wal-Mart. I wanted to pack everything we’d need. If we ended up in Chicago with a three year old and a new baby in a hotel room, the last thing I’d want to do is shop for a bottle rack. I didn’t want to be as unprepared as we had been with Miles.
(I have lots of thoughts about shopping at Wal-Mart, but that post is for another day.)
Memories wafted over me as we entered the aisle with baby goods. The excitement of baby things coming to belong to and smell like a real baby. Never-ending formula making and bottle cleaning.
Just as my eyes locked in on the bottle section, Miles started repeatedly hurling his body against the side of the cart, arms fully stretched out toward the object, “Over there! Over there! Over there!” His eyes had locked in on a flashy baby toy.
That’s when a young woman next to me turned and asked if I lived on _______ Avenue. I do.
She told me she had recently been staying at her mother’s house just up the block.
“Oh yeah, do you have a sister? I think I met her once.”
“Yes, you probably did. We see you and your…son, right?…walking by all the time.”
“Is that your little one?” She was accompanied by a younger man who was pushing a cart with a small baby.
“Yep. That’s him. Your wife died, right?” She asked breezily, as if she knew for certain.
“Um..no,” I said, reeling a little. Or maybe I said it more like a question, “Um, no?” This was not the Midwestern reserve I typically encounter.
“My partner and I adopted him. We’re raising him together.” My face got hot as I said it. What did it mean for them that they first thought I was opposite-sex widowed and now knew I was gay?
“Oh, cool!” she said without pause and with convincing nonchalance. She turned to her man friend, who said coolly, “Yeah, that’s cool.”
Then she said, “My best friend is gay. He wants a kid too. They want to use a surrogate, but they fight all the time about whose sperm they should use.”
I had whip lash but felt myself warming to her now that we had found our footing. But she abruptly turned back to her shopping list and asked her man friend something about diapers.