Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Humidifying Experience of the Day


I keep running into a famous writer whose writing I admire. Hers was a first novel that turned into a bestseller that was made into a movie with good acting, writing and direction — every writer’s dream. I have the worst memory for names, so forget me remembering the names of stars, celebrities, music or performers. I even confuse my kid’s names. But I always remember her.

She was at the bookstore for my very first reading, a short story in Best Lesbian Love Stories. (If you google "queer writers" it’ll come up; my children are especially proud of this). She wasn't there to hear me, but she stuck around, listened, and came up to say hi.

I’ve run into her at a few other events, and then last year she was at a group reading I did. Bought the anthology and had me sign it. I’m always thrilled to see her — makes me feel legit. Anyway, at this last reading she comes up and has me sign the book, introduces me to her fifteen-year-old who wants to be a writer, and we chat.

Famous-writer-making-my-day is wearing what looks like a maternity top (she’s a tiny woman), and her stomach is filling it, all pointy and hard. Asking her when she’s due is on the tip of my tongue, but I wisely hold back, because what if she’s not pregnant?

Six months pass. She does a workshop for an organization for which we both do volunteer work. It’s a big deal. There are photographers and other members of the media. She looks great, thin, but with a loose pudginess around her middle like she’s given birth.

After her presentation, and when the crowds have thinned, but the photographer is still taking pictures of her with various people in two’s and sometimes three’s, famous writer and I talk. We laugh. People laugh with us. I ask her if she had a boy or girl. Get a blank stare.

At this point I could have back-stroked out of it, but instead I remind her that she came to my last reading and that she was pregnant. She covers her soft belly protectively with clasped hands and tells me that she hasn’t been pregnant for sixteen years. My mouth is open, but nothing is coming out. The flash goes off and the moment is digital.