Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Our Village

They say it takes a village.

But who has a village these days?  In the literal sense, the "village" is long gone.  We no longer live in small towns where you're surrounded by the elders in your family and community.  Where those people are available to give advice, teach or lend a helping hand.  TB was told by some of his Indian co-workers that when a woman has a baby in India, she often goes to live with her mother for several months.  I suppose the Indian culture has held onto the village concept a bit more than we have here in the western world.  With all the responsibilities most of us have these days, the idea of going to live with our mothers for several months is not logistically possible, not to mention that I suspect a great many people wouldn't want to live with their mothers again.....  Even taking family aside, most of us are slightly nomadic these days.  Moving many times in life for school or work can make it hard to become part of a village.

TB and I are definitely classified as part of these modern nomads, having lived in several cities and states both before we met and after.  We've both become good at making friends and connections in each place we've lived, have stayed in touch with many of these people and can call many of them life long friends.  Although our Christmas card list has become quite extensive, it's safe to say that the list is not cohesive. It a mix of several different groups with many similarities and many differences.  We don't have one large network of friends and family who all know each other- it's a patchwork, in a sense, of people from all over the country.  A wonderful hodge podge of folks - but hodge podge nonetheless.

I think it's easy to feel like you don't belong to a village when your network is similar to ours.  I remember putting together our wedding invite list several years ago and thinking how interesting it was that we were sending invitations all over the country to several different "groups" of people - many of which had never met anyone from other groups.  It made me wonder if we were really connected to any group of people or if we had spread ourselves too thin.

Then I remember how humbled I was the weekend of our wedding.

So many people from all aspects of our lives took the time out of their busy lives to come celebrate with us. From family we hadn't seen in many years, to new friends, to coworkers, to childhood friends.  I'll never forget walking into the Hermes Bar at Antoines, Brennan's, Pat O's, the St. Louis Cathedral and seeing faces from all corners of our lives.  I realized that this was likely the only time in our lives that all the important people in both our lives would be in one place at one time.  And an amazing thing happened as the weekend wore on, different groups of people were mixing and mingling.  By the end of the weekend, it had gone from a hodge podge group of folks, to one cohesive group - all in New Orleans for one common purpose, to help us celebrate (and perhaps experience the French Quarter....).

I've been humbled once again.  Since baby TB's arrival, we've been overwhelmed by kindness from our friends and family - many of the same people from our wedding and many new people we've met since that time in New Orleans.  From all the meals that have been dropped off, to our neighbor mowing our lawn, to the kind notes and thoughtful gifts. 

As we've started this new part of our lives, we've been reminded again and again over the past few weeks that we do indeed have a village.  It might not be the type of village that we traditionally think of, but a wonderful village that suits us perfectly.  Our village.

Our village 3 years ago today

Monday, August 13, 2012

TSA Owes Us A Baby Gift

My adventures on the road began to get even more interesting than normal once I became pregnant.  I quickly figured out where all the bathrooms were in the airports and buildings I frequent, I spent more time in the airplane bathroom than I ever hoped, a bit of vomit in unfortunate places,  I learned not to wear heals late in a pregnancy and most importantly - I got to know the TSA agents on a very intimate level. So much so, that some of them at the smaller airports started to recognize me.  With all this time spent together, I really thought they'd get baby TB a gift - perhaps even a card.  But I still seem to be waiting.  You may ask why I spent so much time with the TSA during my pregnancy.  Oh, just a little thing called a full body pat down.

The full body scanners have been in use for a while and although I find it a bit disturbing to go through them on a regular basis, I honestly don't have much time to think about it and the thought of a pat down was never very appealing so I just ignored the weirdness of it and went through the machine.  Until I found out I was pregnant.  I figured that I went through the machines 2-4 times a week and perhaps it was time I stopped.  Just in case.  For at least nine months.  For nine months I was touched and rubbed down by TSA agents all over the country while I declined to go through the scanner and asked for a pat down in stead.  The TSA spent the most "intimate" time with me, next to my OB, over the past months - hence why I thought they should get us a card in the very least.  What I found most interesting about this process were some of the responses by the TSA agents when I asked for the voluntary pat down.  Some of my favorites:

At the Baltimore airport: 
Me:  I'd like a pat down please
TSA Agent:  (looking at my face, down to my stomach, back to my face)  Oh.  OK.  I'll call Barbara.  You'll really like her, she's the best one at the pat downs

Hmmmm.  The best?  What does that mean?  More thorough?  I'm not sure I want a more thorough pat down.   And shouldn't you all be really good at your jobs?  And I'm not sure I want to "like" the person who's touching me in front of all these strangers at the airport.  I'd like to get this done, no chit chat and then let's get out of here.  End of story.

At the Sarasota airport:
Me:  I'd like a pat down please
TSA Agent:  (looking at my face, down to my stomach, back to my face)  Oh.  OK.  I'll call Susan.  She used to work at the jail and really knows what she's doing.  She used to do full cavity searches on all the female inmates.

Are you kidding me?  This is not a cavity search.  I don't want 'ol Susan to get a little over zealous and think she's back at the jail.

At practically every airport, every time I asked for a pat down:
Me:  I'd like a pat down please
TSA Agents:  (looking at my face, down to my stomach, back to my face)  You do know this is safe for pregnant women - right?
My internal dialogue:  Oh.  Pardon me.  I didn't realize you have extensively looked at the research with this technology.  Or is that just what your TSA manual tells you to say?  And wait.  There is no research on pregnancy and the new airport scanners because that would be unethical.  And I'm sure in 10 years when they figure out there are some adverse effects, you will personally be responsible for the medical bills because you said this was safe.  Is that right?
My actual response:  (no verbal response, roll of the eyes and then diligently took my place in line for my pat down) 

These were such unpleasant experiences that I suppose I'll just go back to the invasive scanning machine once I start traveling again.  I just can't take a chance on Susan in Sarasota and her full cavity searches.

And on to more baby photos!