I take a moment to appreciate my lacey Honeydew panties, and all my glory below them, before pulling my shorts back up on my hips. It’s petit and pretty. I once had a boyfriend tell me that it would earn the blue ribbon in a field day for vaginas. This one still makes me grin in a tilted head, sense of wonderment sort of way. Too bad his clever compliments were his single strong suit.
My nostalgia is suddenly popped like a schoolgirl’s bazooka bubble when the woman in the stall next to me starts making monstrous sounds that can only mean she’s hovering over the toilet. I sneak a peek at her feet. Her flip-flops are hot pink and her toenails are polished a canary yellow with white polka dots; I bet she wishes that she felt even half that bright. I wonder if she just saw a baby being born too? Or maybe it’s the combination of a few too many Russian cocktails the night prior and the reality that babies really do squeeze out of a small slit that most twenty-something women use for imports only? I nod my head and purse my lips in agreement. If she could see me, I’d give her that, “Hey, I feel ya sister,” look.
I exit my stall to face my humbled disposition. I wipe a cluster of sweat beads from my upper lip and can’t help but notice the lack of glimmer on my left hand. The foamy soap and water droplets flow around my naked fingers as I fight back useless tears. I stare at myself in the mirror, and I swear that it’s staring right back at me. Sick polka dot girl better stay in that export cubicle as long as she can, lighting has never been so unforgiving.
It’s like the mirror is interrogating my soul. It sees that my smile is because I am proud my cousin brought her baby girl into this world. My expression slides into a smirk when I imagine how much hell that little girl is going to give her.
It studies my deep breaths and long sighs, and recognizes them as the acceptance of defeat. I had been delusional to think that he and I would share this one-day. Furthermore, I’d be a fool to hope that my current crush was “the one.” This too will end just as passionately and abruptly as it began. I can’t depend on much, but some things are a guarantee. The mirror seems to sense my bandaged, yet ever-hopeful heart. It watches my memory flip through my relationship highs and lows like a late-night channel surfer, and realizes that there’s nothing worth cherishing, so I just keep flipping. Then like the masochist that I am, it captures a slight twinkle in my eyes and helps me see the faith that I will be blessed with a family, eventually, even if I don’t feel it.
The soul-searching mirror senses my now peaceful heart. Just moments earlier it had been flowing with emotions and pounding like a celebratory tribal beat as I watched a new family’s hearts burst, and then sink, when one new heartbeat could not only be heard, but also seen. Bewildered by my sweat sprinkled face and fleshed cheeks, the mirror takes curious inspection of my raised arm hair and plump goose bumps. I know that these linger from being the bearer of amazing news.
“She’s here! She’s here. She was here at 1:26 and she has the most endearing whine.” I burst out, exasperated, with not nearly as much articulation as I would have preferred. I instantly wish that I’d properly prepared myself to deliver this memory. But I don’t think it mattered how I said it, because when I did, it was like watching the sunrise for the very first time.
His expression brightened. Pure joy and true love spilt from his smile as the corners of his lips curled up into his cheeks revealing a spirit that oozed of pride and curiosity. My uncle has always had the most inspiring smile. It’s the kind that sweeps an entire face, makes one’s eyes glisten with gladness and beckons others to take delight in the moment. You’d be a miserable fool to resist its charm.
The mirror is patient while I squeeze my eyes tight and hope and beg that that very moment never fades from my memory. I open them to find my gaze upon my flat stomach. I turn to the side, take in a deep breath and push my tummy out as far as I can. I rest one hand on my air-filled belly, the other on my strained lower back. I’ve always been a pro at make-believe. I consider what it might feel like to have life blossoming inside me, but even my wildest imagination can’t do it justice. The mirror seems to look upon me with compassion this time. We gaze into one another, and sigh.
A toilet unexpectedly roars like a rushing river crushing my belly back to size. And in an instant I recognize that the glass is more than half-full; a single girl never goes hungry, polka dot toes are only a salon away, my vagina is still collecting compliments and a baby girl really is the most beautiful thing in the world.