Give Peace A Chance

by Jen on December 8, 2012

I wrote this in August right after finding out we were pregnant.  Some days this pregnancy feels like it’s flown by, but this post collected dust as it’s been in “drafts” folder for so long.  I’d forgotten all about it until today when I was thinking about how lucky we are to be 24 weeks pregnant tomorrow.  I’d nearly forgotten that my initial blood tests showed hCG levels so low that the likelihood of this pregnancy being “viable” was slim to none.  But as sure as I sit here, the baby inside me is pressing firmly on my bladder and saying, “not viable, my ass”.   

I struggled to stay in bed beyond 6:30 that Saturday morning.  It was the end of my most recent two week wait, and I had to pee.  Badly.  I pulled a pregnancy test from the drawer in our tiny bathroom, peed, and waited on the toilet for three of the longest minutes of my life to pass.

I checked my cell phone to guarantee I’d waited the full time, and with a heart beating like a bass drum, I faced the digital window of the test expecting the worst.


The bitch said “Pregnant”.

Holy super sperm.

I climbed in bed, kneeing huffing wiener dogs out of the way, and slid close to a sleeping George.

“I have something to show you!” I sang.

Without stirring, he sleepily translated my enthusiasm.

“We’re pregnant?”

“Mmm hmmm!”

“You’re kidding!”  He sat up abruptly, studying my face for proof.

After experiencing a chemical pregnancy the month prior, we both knew a blood test was in order before we began to celebrate.

I took the bus to 42nd Street.  It was empty, as it often tends to be at 7:30 in the morning on a Saturday.  I walked to First Avenue and 38th Street, where my world of skyscrapers and concrete open up to the blue skies that accompany the East River.  And while the East River may not be one of New York’s most beautiful landmarks, the early morning sunlight made glitter on the water that separates Manhattan from Queens.

“Good morning.” I whispered to my sleepy sister borough.

For a moment, I felt I might be the only person awake in Manhattan.  Just me.  And my maybe baby.

I entered the NYU Fertility Center, rode the elevator to the 5th floor, and offered up a few vials of my blood.

“We’ll call you when we get the results!” chirped the blonde nurse with the ever-cheerful toenail polish that always matched her sandals.

I liked her.  She didn’t fit in.  Too vibrant for a fertility office and far too “neon” to blend into New York City.  Her personality matched her lime toes and strappy sandals, and I always felt lucky when she drew my blood.

I left the doctor’s office with fewer ants in my pants.  I plugged in my earbuds and strolled to the edge of the island to capture a cell phone shot of the dancing water and the Queens skyline.  Music pumped into my ears and through my veins.  The sun touched my cheeks as I stood totally alone staring across the river and hoping that in a few hours, I may receive the phone call that would forever change my life.

Lost in the fantasy of finally bringing a child into this world, I closed my eyes, concentrated on the words of the song in my ears, and held my breath.

And then, someone touched me on my shoulder.

Startled, I whipped around and ripped the earphones from my ears.

I hadn’t been alone after all.

“Do you have the time?” he asked.

He was tall, maybe 6’5″?  And possibly homeless?  His black skin was ashy and cracking.  His dreads were disheveled, and his beard maintained crumbs and fuzz and flakes of skin.

“I’m sorry?”  I stuttered, still shocked to have company.

“The time?”

He raised his arm and pointed to his wrist.

“Oh, ummm, sure.”  I checked my wrist that has been watchless for three years and then rummaged through my bag for my cell phone.  At this moment, I panicked.

Oh my god.  I’m at the edge of the island in a city that sleeps until at least 10:00 a.m. on Saturdays.  I’ve walked off the beaten path to take a fucking picture- a picture that looks like shit for that matter- and this guy is going to rob me, or hurt me, or throw me into the back of that van over there.

My eyes scanned the vacant city hoping to see a morning dog walker, or a runner, or a grumpy cab driver, but we were alone.  Totally alone in the city that I’ve never been alone in before, thanks to the hoards of people who are typically everywhere I want to be.

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuuuuuuuuck.  Why didn’t I stay on First Avenue?!?!?  I’m probably pregnant.  This is NO time to talk to strangers.

“It’s…. ummmm…” I fumbled with my phone.  “It’s ummmm, 7:47.”

He nodded, thanked me, and turned to walk away.

I exhaled, feeling relief.  I’d been spared.

I walked away as quickly as I could, deciding that I needed all my senses and music would have to wait until I was back to a crowded street where there would be witnesses.


He was behind me.  He’d decided I was worthy of being thrown in the back of a van so he could make a skin shirt out of me.  I regretted being plus-sized more than ever.

Don’t turn around, idiot.  Keep on walkin’.

“Ma’am.”  He tapped me on the should again.


I turned around, accepting my fate.  I’d already made the mistake.  Might as well face him head on.

“Wanna know my name?” He smiled.

Is that his “I’m going to eat your skin off.” type of smile, or his, “I want you to call me by name when I’m raping you” type of smile, or his “I’m a lonely man looking for a friend” type of smile?

I looked confused.  Paralyzed and confused.

“Okay, I’ll give you a hint,” he continued.

He spread his arms, closed his eyes, and began to sing, grooving his shoulders and head, and snapping his fingers to the beat.

“All we are saaaaaaying, is giiive peace a chaaaaaaance.”

He opened his eyes, “Can you guess now?”

“Ummm…. John?”  I played along.

“Yes!” he clapped.  I’m John!”  He smiled, revealing a mouth of sparse teeth and swollen gums.  His eyes sparkled, absorbing all threats I saw in them a few minutes earlier.

“And you are a Mets fan?!?!”

“Huh?”  I was still confused.

“Your shirt.” He pointed.  “You like the Mets?”

I looked down to the shirt I’d slept in the night before.  I’d been too excited about having blood work done that I’d failed to change.  “Shea” spread across my chest.

“Oh, not really.  It’s my husba…”

“Would you believe I used to live in Flushing not TWO FEET from Shea when I was a boy?!?!” he rambled.  “Ooooh weeee!  Those were the days!”

We began walking together, partially because I was still hoping to make it back to witness territory, and partially because we happened to be heading in the same direction.

“You ever been to Shea?”

“No, just to Citifield.” I answered.

“Shame.”  He shook his head.  “Nothin’ like Shea.  I miss it.”

He was silent for a moment.

“Wanna hear another song?” he asked.

“Uh, sure?”

With the same soulful groove, he began to sing another John Lennon song I didn’t recognize.

“I don’t know that one.” I admitted.

He put his hand to his heart and gasped.  “What?!?!”

“What is it?”  I smiled.

“It’s my favorite one of all.  My favorite one of all.”

The M15 slowed into the stop.

“That’s my bus.” I nodded.  “It was nice meeting you.”

“You too, baby!  You too!”

I stepped onto the bus and slid into a window seat and watched as my friend, John Lennon, continued down the street.  As my bus passed him, I saw his eyes were closed and his shoulders were swaying, and I imagined he was singing “Give Peace A Chance” at the top of his lungs.

It’s hard, I think, balancing caution and warmth.  I was scared of John Lennon.  I was.  My instinct was to be friendly, but my gut told me to run.  I was sure he’d tie me up in a basement and feed me mouse sandwiches and urine, but he didn’t.  He did, however, sing me two songs- songs of peace, no less, and tell me a story of when he was a little boy.

Maybe there will come a day I regret not running, a day I will regret entertaining the banter  that lands me in a dangerous situation, but for now, I believe sometimes people simply crave a connection and have a burning need to tell their stories.

I came home, told George his story, waited for the doctor to call, and added a few John Lennon songs to my favorite playlist.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Andrea December 8, 2012 at 5:58 pm

omg, I'm so completely ready to bawl my eyes out right this second. Recently I took part in a discussion as to why I recognize homeless people for what they are and what they might have been through, and WHO they are and this is crazy and I get it, I do, but my heart aches and I want to cry because of all the things you said and share here. And this? This is why we were meant to be friends. I wish I could remember who introduced me to your blog 100 years ago, which is really more like, when, exactly? Months? Almost a year, not quite? What the hell? Anyway, I would thank them. SO very very much. <3


2 Lance December 9, 2012 at 8:46 am

hang in there

I'm been lurking and silenting sending best wishes…lol mets, go braves


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