Gena and Patty's Meet-Cute
“Morgan, are you ready to go?” asked Gena, turning off her computer and smoothing her curly hair as Morgan walked toward her, taking off her lab coat.
“Yes, I’m ready now,” said Morgan breathlessly. “Sorry I’m running late, I had to double check the blood test results for one of the monkeys.” Gena looked at Morgan’s cute outfit – fitted black pants and a maroon top that contrasted nicely with Morgan’s pale skin – and felt nervous. Was what she was wearing okay? She was still in that post-college not-sure-how-to-dress phase. The lab was pretty casual and Gena was often on her way to or from a workout, so her look could best be described as athleisure. She thought her baby blue v-neck t-shirt looked nice against her tanned skin, and hopefully no one could tell that her olive pants doubled as hiking gear.
Gena and Morgan worked at a lab studying the effects of climate change on primates. The hope was that their research on treatments to combat some of the negative health impacts could be transferred to humans. Their love of science had brought them together and they were best friends.
“It’s fine, I’m sure everyone will spend the first half hour of the meeting chit-chatting anyway,” said Gena. Gena and Morgan were headed to a local political meeting. The year was 2017 and shock waves from the 2016 election still rocked the country – especially the women in the California suburb where Gena and Morgan lived and worked. The time was ripe to fight back.
Gena had discovered the women’s group online and convinced Morgan to tag along with her to the first meeting, held at the home of a woman neither of them had met. Patty, the founder of the group and meeting host, was a poetry and philosophy professor at a local university and worked as a doula on the side.
Gena and Morgan walked up the steps to Patty’s house and Gena took a deep breath to steady herself before she rang the bell. A middle-aged soccer mom type wearing skinny jeans, a thin white t-shirt, and a dangling necklace let them in and motioned for them to be quiet. They found seats on folding chairs in the crowded living room and tried not to make a disturbance that would distract from the pretty blonde adorned in a multitude of beaded necklaces and a flowing, flowery skirt who held the floor.
As she stored her backpack under her chair and looked around, Gena immediately felt out of place. There were perhaps 25 women packed in the room and most were White and middle-aged – and probably married to men with a couple of kids at home. A few were visibly pregnant. Gena was a twenty-something lesbian of Mexican-American heritage. She looked over at Morgan and wondered if she felt uncomfortable, too – Morgan was also in her twenties and was one of the few Asian women in the room. But Morgan stared straight ahead at the speaker and Gena couldn’t read her thoughts.
“The way we get through this is radical love,” said the speaker. “Love the other side as we love our own. Please close your eyes, place your hands over your heart, and join me in a meditation sending love into the universe.”
Oh lord, thought Gena. What had she gotten herself into? Radical love? This was not her kind of meeting. Detailed data, perhaps. Or people loudly fighting injustice. She was not about to radically love people who threatened her right to exist. This speaker couldn’t possibly understand.
When the blonde finished talking, Gena couldn’t hold herself back. She stood and took a deep breath. All eyes turned to her. She opened her mouth to speak, when a very pregnant woman cried out suddenly, interrupting her. Before Gena could even process what was happening, the blonde speaker cleared out the women who had been sitting on a couch, settled the pregnant woman on it, pointed at Morgan, and asked her to call 911. When Gena recovered herself, she went over to the couch to offer her help.
“I’m Patty and I’m a doula,” said the blonde soothingly to the pregnant woman, whose face was clenched as if fighting pain. “I’m going to take care of you while we wait for help to arrive.” The pregnant woman nodded slightly.
The blonde was the group organizer. Gena hadn’t realized. Gena took a closer look at this woman, Patty. One of Patty’s hands tenderly held that of the pregnant woman. The other hand was all business – checking her forehead for a fever, feeling the pulse at her wrist, pulling up her pant legs to check the feet and ankles for swelling.
“Um, can I do something to help?” asked Gena. Patty turned and looked her up and down as if judging her competence. But she did so with kind, blue eyes and a friendly smile on naturally pink lips. Gena met her stare and felt something that she hadn’t felt in a long time – a spark. Could she be attracted to this woo-woo doula? She didn’t even know if Patty liked women. Gena held Patty’s gaze for a moment longer and noticed Patty’s eyes slip to the v of her t-shirt for just a second before looking up at her eyes again. “Why don’t you see if there’s a partner we should call?” said Patty, handing a phone to Gena.
And the rest, as they say, is history. The pregnant woman and her baby were fine. Patty soon asked Gena on a date to a pussy hat crochet party. Then Gena invited Patty on a bike ride. Not longer after, they were committed. As Gena and Patty sat at brunch 15 years later and clinked mimosas with Morgan and their other friends, Gena flashed back to the moment she had first spotted Patty and wondered what her life would have been like if she hadn’t gone to that meeting or been open to dating a woo-woo doula.