She asks while I'm signing in, writing my name on the line. #2. We've already said the standard hellos and she's already inquired about my well being, twice: a crease unfolded, paint blobs pressed into the paper, symmetrical.
Hey, I was wondering: you have how many kids again?
I look up. I haven't written the last few letters of my last name so I hover above the paper. Four, I reply. This is a statistic that startles me, still.
And do you mind me asking -- how old are you?
I don't mind. I wonder about this myself sometimes. I see the lines around my mouth, my eyes. There are callouses on my feet, dead skin that I can peel with my fingernails if I dig hard enough. Sometimes I am so, so tired but I can't close my eyes because then another huge chunk of time will pass. I try to breathe evenly.
But I also know how she sees me. And it's not like that. I finish writing my name.
31, I reply.
Really? I would have guessed 25...you look so young...which is why I wondered how many kids you have because I thought you said four last time we talked but it just didn't make sense...
We both laugh. I tell her their ages and something about getting married in college and having kids right away, a little unexpected but not unwanted. My mouth keeps moving. She comments about how great it is that I can get away and come to yoga class. I heartily agree.
Now she knows everything about me.
Now she knows nothing about me.