Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Mean Streets of Hoboken

Daniel on the Hoboken Pier

As I was leaving my daughter Molly's room tonight, just before she went to sleep, she asked me to come back and give her "a really big hug".  She is a cute one, so I couldn't resist a request like that.  But, as I was hugging her something from long ago popped into my head and made me laugh.

I think I was about 7 months pregnant with my son Daniel.  At the time, we were living in Hoboken, NJ (birthplace of Frank Sinatra and baseball).  Every morning, Jake and I would walk about a 1/2 mile from our apartment to the ferry station and take the ferry across the Hudson River to Manhattan to work. Along the way, we would pass shop after shop and resturant after resturant, many of them being Italian resturants. The smell of garlic in the air at 7am each morning didn't agree with my morning sickness at all.

The walk home at the end of the day was much better.  The morning sickness had past for the day and pizza by the slice seemed like an excellent idea. There was also a Baskin Robbins along the way, which to my pregnant self was completely dreamy.

So, to say that I was 7 months pregnant is not painting a good enough picture. At 7 months, I look really, really overdue. I am not a cute little pregnant lady. I carry extremely out front and look more like someone who might be having triplets or maybe hiding a watermelon under their shirt. "No, I am sure I am not having twins" came out of my mouth a lot during all three of my pregnancies.

In Hoboken, people don't let pregnant people walk around without a gender guess or possibly a wager on when you are going to give birth.  I would walk to and from the ferry station each day ready for 3 out of 5 people to guess gender or due date. Most of them were right on the money that I was having a boy, but I didn't know it at the time. And, many of them were across and possibly down the block and would still make sure to yell their guess to me.

It was an odd thing. EVERY single day (no matter what kind of mood I was in, people would yell out their guesses to me).  When you are REALLY, REALLY PREGNANT and you have to walk to work...there is no hiding from anyone.  Most days Jake would be walking with me and if we were deep in conversation, the strangers and their guesses didn't come as frequent, which was a relief (and I really like to talk to people...I know).

One evening when Jake was traveling for work, I was walking home by myself.  Up ahead, on my side of the street was a man with a pizza sauce stained apron standing outside of a "pizza by the slice" joint. On the other side of the street, was a couple and they were sort of hugging and kissing each other. I noticed them and I could tell that the pizza maker noticed them too.  I knew there was going to be trouble in this town of people that yell out stuff to each other.  The pizza man starts giving them the business..."oh, look at them, he is hugging her and she is hugging him".  Instantly, I am in heaven.  For once, someone else is in the hot seat. I am sure I am smiling at the cute couple getting picked on by the pizza maker.  And then, sure enough...the pizza man looks down the block and spots me in all my pregnant glory coming at him. His eyes get huge and I know I am in trouble.  He yells out to no one in particular and really to anyone in a 3 block radius "WO, someone really hugged her!" and then just before he walks back into his pizzeria to leave me alone on the street with his comment still in the air, yells out "WHY DOESN'T ANYONE EVER HUG ME?"

It guess it could have been worse. I could have been a homesick pregnant lady with very little family around, living on the east coast, having grown up in the midwest and nobody cared to ask anything about my pregnancy.  It is funny how these complete strangers, who all seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere took the time everyday to reach out and show interest in someone they didn't even know. People are good...and funny. And, what's even funnier is that a little tiny lady asking for a "really, big hug" tonight brings me back to all of it.

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