This I Believe

Linda - Florence, Massachusetts
Entered on December 6, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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December 7th, 007

I believe that it takes just a small stimulus to propel us toward the connectivity we all share as humans. Today, I went to the social security administration to get my adopted infant daughter a social security card. At 15 months, she is as adept at securing a smile or engagement from others as I had finally learned to be at my age. She’s cute too, and that helps. As she waved at a new fan club in the back of the dingy waiting room, and offered wet, drolly fingers to meet in ET fashion the tips of strangers’ hands, people began to spill their stories. She brought it out in them.

The woman from Poland who also has children with a wide age span between them expounded on how they adore each other,” so don’t worry about it honey” she counseled. Another woman in her mid fifties, widow and mother of five, clearly struggling to sustain a livelihood and secure benefits, described losing her husband in his 30s while he was in the British Service and still having to fight to convince a system that doesn’t trust her, that she is worthy of their handout. She pulls out her pay stubs to show me what she earns. I remind myself that I am a “perfect stranger,” and so look at them and nod gravely. She just wants to convince someone that she is honest.

The young girl in front of us is beautiful. I notice her skin and her sign language. I identify my daughter by fingerspelling her name, when she gestures “Is she yours” and add “Hey, if you need any assistance, I can interpret.” She asks where I am from, and tells me she just arrived from PR with her baby. Her husband is here already. She never went to school but is looking forward to her new life. Her mom is leaving soon, back to PR. Hates the cold.

These folks stroke my daughters hair and brush aside the bangs fallen from their hair cinch for the hundredth time, and as if she were theirs. And they create a space where I think of sharing my stories, my angst, my transition from single parent hood to partnership, my impending son’s move to college and how will I ever continue on, my son, my breath, my life… and this new bundle of a baby who is strong and willful and lovely, and has just learned how to kvetch and arch her spine so she can slip out of anyone’s grip to get to what she desires. But I remain silent.

I see how we are all so full of drama, tragedy and light; how they blend together yet remain distinct like the Coffeemate I just added to the lukewarm grit I was trying to sip, how we just scratch the service of any life, as my life partner says, and there is stuff we all agonize over, we all adore, we all cleave to.

My thoughts are interrupted by our number being called, and the caseworker who assists us answers my questions about her French manicure explaining to me how it is done.

I make up my mind that my nail biting has to stop, and realize that in this 45 minute session, I became part of the foreground, moving through the scene, with my lines, and my colors to add to the tapestry. Though our language and histories are individual, I felt like a piece of the unit, a cog in the device. And if we were trapped by circumstance in that space, our stories would unfold even further, and we would connect even deeper. A short-lived family exposed, yet carrying ourselves forward. I believe that every encounter leads us somewhere, and this one has brought me to humanity’ s door.