December 02, 2005

Seen At the Bus Terminal on Platform A

I got into downtown Bridgeport at 6:00 -- ten minutes before my connection was scheduled to arrive. We had a pretty warm November, but it's starting to reeeeeally get cold now. I set down my small bag of groceries and lit up a smoke.

After about a minute I turned to my right and noticed a woman who was smoking a cigarette. The reason I noticed her was that she would take a drag, put her hand down in front of her, exhale the smoke, lift her arm, take a drag, lower her arm, exhale, lift her arm, drag, etc etc. She stared blankly at the ground about ten feet in front of her.

She looked to be about 60-65 years old and (just my impression, mind you) seemed to be mildly retarded. She had the same expression I'd seen on a hundred homeless woman -- vacant, defeated, too lost for too long to worry about where she's going.

In the icy breeze that smelled like snow she stood there smoking that cigarette with her hood down and her coat wide open. Why was her coat wide open in this weather? Um... She was pregnant. And not just a little bit; she was very very pregnant.

I was near the curb and she was about twenty feet away and nearer to the building, so I moved to reposition myself so that I didn't have to look to the side and back. I just had to study her some more.

While there were plenty of people there milling around she may have noticed my movements because when I leaned on the trashcan and looked at her again she was looking directly at me. I looked away, into the bus station, as if I was looking for someone. I slowly turned toward her again and, while I didn't make eye contact, could tell that she was still looking at me. I looked away again.

After about 30 seconds I looked at the people standing nearest to her. The closest was a woman about my age who was about five feet from her. The pregnant smoker was back to looking at the ground, but this younger gal was looking straight at me. I wondered how many people on the platform thought that this odd sight was as interesting as I did. I looked at the younger woman to see if I could tell why she was looking at me. Did she want to non-verbally communicate something like "Isn't she wierd"? Did she want to communicate "Don't stare at her, she's just waiting for a bus"? I got nothing so I looked at the elderly pregnant smoker some more in all her boxy, frumpy glory.

I mean, she's got to be 15 years past menopause. Is she a surrogate? Can a post-menopausal woman carry another's baby? Would an infertile woman sellect a surrogate who is a sextogenarian who smokes? Assuming that she's still pre-menopausal, did she intend for this to happen -- to care for a newborn baby at her age and her (seemingly to me) lower than average faculties? What the @#$% am I looking at here?!

After a few more minutes her bus arrived and she boarded it. She pulled herself up and into the bus, waddled a little ways down the aisle and plopped herself into a seat. While others opened newspapers, pulled out a crossword puzzle or talked on cellphones, she simply looked forward and low; expressionless, alone and just going to whereever she was going. I got the feeling that it's a lot further than the bus could take her.

My bus arrived and I got on board. I've ridden that same route nearly a thousand times. Same old street names, same old businesses and houses. It's usually pretty boring scenery. But, tonight, I got a lot of comfort out of the familiarity of it all.

What the @#$% was I looking at?!

Posted by Tuning Spork at December 2, 2005 08:04 PM | TrackBack

I don't know. A hard life does age skin quickly though.

Posted by: Edith at December 3, 2005 11:35 AM

"Can a post-menopausal woman carry another's baby?"

Yes, it's been done several times in Europe. Yep, post-menopausal women can get pregnant naturally too.

Posted by: michele at January 14, 2006 11:21 PM
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