I haven’t seen Kim, my friend and manager of the coffeehouse, since before Thanksgiving, so I mentally prepare myself before getting out of the car: she is now eight months pregnant and her midwife informed her today that the baby has dropped into position.
“It could be any day!” she shouts, leaping with surprising ease out of her car to give me a hug. “Any day!”
I take a step back to see her shining face through the falling snow. We are downtown on the square, which has been practically abandoned due to seventy-two mile an hour winds and snow. Indeed, her belly has grown, and even though it is covered by three layers of winter clothing, I can still make out the egg-shaped roundness of it. Her little legs dash out from below her waist like support posts under the size of her new self.
“Kim, I can’t wait!” I say, holding her hand as we walk toward the teahouse. We arrive only to discover that they are closed, due to inclement weather.
“That means we have to go – “ Kim hesitates, then meets my gaze, her eyes like winter-blue crystals sparkling at me through a flurry of snowflakes.
“ – Appalachian Java,” I finish her sentence. We turn around and head back up the hill towards the square. Nothing more needs to be said – as baristas, we both know why their espresso is less than perfect. All the same, once we step inside we’re equally appreciative for the warmth and the fact that they are open, and yes – we both tip Brandon, the barista.
As we catch up and talk about her plans for new-baby-life, Kim’s face is full of animation and enthusiasm. At one point she almost squeals, “I have been so lucky!” she says, referring to her joyful experience with this first pregnancy. Her cheeks are a deep, rosy color from the cold and this contrasts with an elegant ivory knitted scarf that she has doubled up around her neck. Hand blown glass bead earrings dangle from her tiny lobes and match her purple long underwear top, which peaks out just barely underneath all her other layers of clothing.
When all is said and done, it is agreed that she will send photos as soon as the baby is born and yes, of course I’m invited to the baby shower (she’s asked to have it after the baby is born). After over an hour, we read our Freewill Astrology horoscopes to each other before saying goodbye.
“Ok Capricorn birthday girl,” she says, winking her still startling blue eyes at me, “The San Francisco 49ers football team recently endured one of its worst seasons ever. But as the losses piled up, head coach Mike Nolan continued to profess an optimism that seemed deluded to most observers. After an especially galling defeat in the team’s 13th game, however, he finally confessed he was a little down. In response, San Francisco Chronicle sportswriter Ray Ratto exulted, ‘At least Mike Nolan isn’t calling a chemical fire the Aurora Borealis anymore.’ I bring this up, Capricorn, because in recent months you have now and then suffered from the reverse problem: It’s like you’ve been gazing at the Aurora Borealis and theorizing it’s a chemical fire. But this glitch in your attitude is now becoming untenable. Your pretty good luck is evolving into damn fine blessings. It’s time to acknowledge the beautiful truths in all of their glory.’”
“Hmmmm,” I say, glancing it over in the paper for a second read.
“What’s that analogy about?” Kim asks innocently.
I smile as we head out the door. “It’s about how last night, when all was said and done at my party, the people who were left were my friends. They were there for a good time and they love me unquestioningly. And the horoscope’s trying to tell me that that’s what I should be thankful for.”