Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Surrogate

As I snacked absently on the stale, greasy chips, I checked my watch for the billionth time. I should have never agreed to do this, I scolded myself. This was dumb. It's your curiosity that gets you into these situations, I told myself. And your damn impulsive nature that cements your fate.

It wasn't enough to impulsively send the woman an e-mail telling her she fascinated me and I wanted to talk to her more about her choices. Oh no. As if that outpouring of affirmation wasn't enough, I had ask her to lunch. I don't do lunch normally. I do with family and very close friends, but that's where I draw the line. Lunch is part of my routine, my comfortable bubble I surround myself with. Going out to lunch squeezes my bubble, and that makes me uncomfortable.

You really must quit becoming fascinated with people, I told myself. This is what gets you in all of the trouble. This is why you talk to people you shouldn't talk to, you entangle yourself with old men at the grocery store because their smile reminds of you of your grandfather, and you try to invite strange people to eat with you at restaurants because you're worried they're lonely. If you weren't so damn curious, you wouldn't keep winding up in these sticky social situations with only your blond curls and dopey smile to get you out, my brain said logically.

If you weren't so fascinated with people, you would have never met Ben. You would never have the job you have, a small part of me thought. Well crap. I had myself there.

Finally, she appeared--a very pregnant forty year old woman. She had five children of her own, had been a surrogate for twins, and was being a surrogate again. And she had an English accent. She was fascinating.

Over queso and chips, we talked about the surrogacy. I asked her how she could give a child to another couple after carrying it for nine months, and she brushed it off as no big deal. She had her five children, she said. She didn't want anymore. She did this because she believed in family, because she believed these couples deserved the blessing of a child that she had had. I laughed as she told me about her horror over a woman who wanted her to be a surrogate because she didn't want to lose her figure, even though she'd already had several children. Looking down at her swollen belly and breasts, a body that had been down this road 8 times before, she looked at me and laughed. "I suppose my figure is just out of luck," she laughed in her faded British accent. I smiled. Much to my surprise, she wasn't a religious nut job. I had wondered.

As I studied her over the table, peppering with questions, she told me about her life. She grew up in England and went to school and college in South Africa. She moved here and married her husband and had five children. She's a freelance writer pulling in three times the salary I make, which impressed me rather than turning my skin green.

To my surprise, she managed to shock me. Her blunt honesty about her finances and details of her marriage took me off guard. After all, we had just met. I don't even tell close friends about much of my marriage or salary. She showed me pictures of her children, the eyes crinkling around her eyes in pleasure. At 5 foot 2, she looked more delicate and fragile than her manner lead you to believe. In my book, she had to be stronger than most people to have so many children. The idea of delivering 8 children makes me cringe and curl up into the fetal position. I couldn't imagine a worse torture.

As we said goodbye, I drove back to work fascinated. Normally, my sudden and intense curiosity over a person wears off after a short time. Amazingly, she still has mine. I simply can't wrap my mind over her generosity with her time, her body, her life. It's fascinating.