Like an insistent gust of wind carrying pollen to an awaiting field, she blew into the meeting a few minutes early and sat next to me at the conference table. Head buried, I fumbled to finish an email before the speaker began the professional development session.
"Don't you like my earrings?" my friend started.
I quit typing. Questions multiplied faster than bubbles in a bathtub.
The supposition is that I don't? Why is she asking about her earrings before even saying hello? Why is this pair more extraordinary than her others? She always wears the prettiest dangling ones; today's pair looks like carved ivory...a little tribal, a little neutral...just the way my friend likes them. Why does she need my approval, today, on this pair? And is more eager than ever to have it...?
Aligning my flowchart of thoughts with her visual evidence, our eyes met. Confused. Conflicted. An absolute conundrum presented itself. Right there at the table. I fumbled to buy time.
Five years ago, Eileen pulled me into her classroom from the drab hallway after dismissal. Between pleasantries and shop talk, she inched closer. Her brown eyes locked into mine.
"So, my sister-in-law; she reminds me so much of you. In fact, she is doing the very same thing you are right now. She wears dangling earrings every day."
I looked on, stifling a nervous giggle.
"You know, I've noticed over the past few weeks you ALWAYS wear flashy earrings and I have a theory about why you do that."
Humoring her, "You do?"
"Absolutely. My sister-in-law wears her fancy earrings to detract attention from her midsection."
"Yeah. And you are too."
She was right; at 20 weeks I'd exhausted my normal garb in favor of stretchy knit and flowing cardigans. And earrings because they still fit.
"Sooooo, when is it that you plan to tell everyone here you're expecting?"
Two years ago and just out of my second pregnancy's first trimester, I recounted this conversation with my friend at school as we prepared to plan her literacy block. We laughed and laughed while I fluffed a fun memory and she filed away an idea.
For such a time.
You know, when she would need the flashy earrings diversion.
Other colleagues filed in and picked seats near us as the speaker made final preparations.
"Are you kidding me?" nearly jumping out of my melamine chair to hug her. "I absolutely LOVE your earrings! I simply can't think of anything better..."
And it was then that the past and present melded into a new memory...a new story. One that's hers, one that's mine.
Now one that's yours, too.