I sneezed...and then I sneezed again...and again. Three sneezes.
The man across the isle from me offers a “bless you” and smiles when I turn to give him a thankful nod. “I see you”, he’s saying with his gesture. “I hear you”. He sips his gin and tonic at 10 in the morning and for a 5 hour flight on Southwest I don’t blame him. I love Southwest but they’re not afraid to pack in the people and for long flights it gets a little... well, long.
Earlier I watched the flight attendant's face as he brought our drinks around on his plastic tray, balancing it all like a circus act as the plane shuffled in the wind. He is a smiler, but not an over-smiler. He offered the cokes and coffees and “adult beverages” with kindness, looking briefly into the passengers eyes but never lingering there. He’s probably found that to be the best way to interact with this plane of people all tightly squeezed together like family in a van on vacation to Florida, but not at all like family in a van on vacation to Florida because Lord knows we are not talking or playing games or even fighting with each other. Most of us are happy to remain quiet and anonymous.
Sneeze! Again. “Bless you!”. Mr. gin and tonic smiles once more.
Do you ever find yourself so far removed from the present that you forget where you are, who you are, when you are, if you even...are? Maybe it is just me but in those moments there is something about hearing my name said out loud, or the “bless you” from a stranger that jolts me back to reality with a gentle reminder that I do in fact, exist.
“I see you.”, “I hear you.”
Pregnancy sort of rules out anonymity. It’s like I have a red flashing light on my belly that says, “Look here! Check me out! Is this crazy or what?!”. People ask me questions and make comments as if it’s totally normal to bring attention to someone's current state of being. You never hear strangers say “Oh you’re short aren’t you!” or “Wow that’s a lot of makeup you have on today!”. Normally we don’t point out all the things we see about each other. But with pregnancy, people see you and they let you know. I’ve found it to be sort of comforting. A constant reminder that I am here, in this moment, with all these other souls who are also here, in this moment. And I want to remember this season with all it’s changing winds. I want to feel the shuffling plane as it moves through the air pockets, I want to smell the perfume of the woman near me. I want to feel my husbands knee resting against my leg as he dozes off.
I’m thankful that God gave pregnant women heightened senses. Maybe He didn’t want us to forget these months of such intense miracles happening right before us, inside us. Even this stuffy plane full of strangers is part of my story. I don’t want a gin and tonic to take the edge off. I want to feel this. I want to remember these days. And I embrace the red flashing light on my belly that seems to welcome the stares of everyone around me. Go ahead, see me. I see you too.