one hundred miles: chapter three

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[Editor’s Note: Contains controversial subject matter. Continue reading at your own risk.]

About the same time I found out about Bitchass, I found out about myself.

I was pregnant.

It had happened just shortly before I came to Job Corps, an extremely ill-advised and short lived “relationship” with a man I had known in school. Let’s call him Pudlicious.

I had had a crush on Pudlicious since the fourth grade, when he was in middle school and I met him through one of my elementary school playmates. I saw him around the neighborhood from time to time from fourth grade on up to seventh, when I moved to Bellevue to live with my grandparents, your great grandparents. I didn’t see him again until about three months before I left for Oregon. By that time, I was older, and “wiser”, and knew what went on between boys and girls, and ended up practicing that knowledge with him. When I decided to go to Oregon, he halfheartedly tried to talk me out of it, then obtained himself another girlfriend within a week.

At any rate, he had left me with more than hurt feelings. And now there was an ex-girlfriend who had my ex-boyfriend’s baby (a boyfriend I desperately wanted back), and a baby starting to grow inside me. I was desperately, impossibly scared. I was seventeen years old, away from my family, my friends, and so, so lonely. I thought I was going to die from fear. Every day I woke up with a lead ball resting on my chest, and most nights I went to sleep crying, only to wake up from nightmares that I was killing my baby.

I can’t even describe it.

Abortion is a pretty controversial topic. Some believe that women should have a choice, some believe that never, under any circumstances, should a woman be allowed to make that kind of decision. I can’t tell you what to believe, son, but I will tell you that the word that gets me most about what I just said is the word “allowed”.

To be allowed to make a decision that affects your body, and your life, and your ability and capacity to be the best mother possible…to be allowed to decide something about where your future will go, to be allowed to make a decision that will impact your life and the direction it will take. I take exception to anyone telling me that I may not or should not be allowedto make that kind of decision. So, while it may not be a decision for everyone, and it will definitely not be a decision I will make again, at least I had the option to make it. And I would never support anyone who would take that option away.

There will be no question, ever, that I will ask myself that will be more difficult to answer than the one, “What am I going to do about this?”

Meanwhile. PK and I made up, as girls that love the men who treat them poorly them often do. I was living in this wierd space where on the one hand, I was pregnant, and on the other hand, I didn’t want to own up to it or face it. Then PK asked me The Question…whether I’d be willing to leave Job Corps and go away with him to ShitFuckTown. (Editor’s Note: That should be a country song title…”Gone Away To ShitFuckTown”.)

There were two problems with this idea. One was that PK was willing to ask me to throw away everything I had worked for so far in the program, move with him to a strange city full of strange people, away from everyone and everything I knew, without any offer of consideration to how this would affect me in the long term.

The second thing is that I was afraid to talk to him about It. The Pregnancy Decision. Son, I was a coward. I was afraid of being a single mom, at seventeen, with no skills to speak of, no training, no education beyond the GED that I obtained within the first few weeks of being in the program. I was afraid of being on welfare. I was afraid of what my family would think. It did not occur to me to hope that PK would be supportive and help me, nor did it occur to me to try having the baby and adopting it out. All I could see was a sad life of shame for my child and me, with no way out of it but what I had decided to do. So I chose to have an abortion. My due date would have been in August sometime, probably near PK’s. My baby would be almost 12 years old by now.

I would be a mommy twice-over.

I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.

The procedure was performed in some nameless clinic in Newport, Oregon. I had no one with me other than the guidance counselor from Job Corps. I did not tell anyone where I was going, and didn’t tell anyone when I came back. I think I tried to stop them in the middle of it, but I was too drugged out to move. I know I cried. I think I might have screamed. I don’t remember.

I don’t remember much of the procedure, other than after it was over, I was flat on my back, crying my eyes out, and the doctor told me not to get up too soon. I did, because even then I still “knew better” than everyone else, and ended up throwing up in the elevator and again in the lobby, to the everlasting disgust of my fellow elevator riders and the entire population of the waiting room. Not my proudest moment.

Do you even know what that does to a girl? Not even an adult yet. No one really to talk to, no family, too scared to talk to friends, too afraid, too afraid, too afraid. Too gut-wrenchingly, shiveringly, coming-unglued-in-my-mind scared. Can you imagine?

Son, all I want you to take away from this is that when you think about condemning someone for a choice they have made that you may disagree with, consider: walking a mile in someone else’s shoes means nothing. Because even a mile, even a hundred miles, will never get you truly and completely inside that person’s head. You don’t know. So just make the decisions that are right for you, and leave others to deal with their business.

Afterward, I told PK what I had done. To my regret I don’t even remember what he said, or how he took it. It just was not an issue for him…I had done what needed to be done, in his eyes, and that was all there was to it. He was not interested to know how I felt, or what I was going through, or how it might affect how I felt about him. He just wanted to know if I was still coming with him, back to ShitFuckTown.

I still can’t say the name of that place without a sick feeling in my stomach. In the handful of times I have driven southward and seen the name on a highway sign, my insides crumple up a little bit. It is hard to explain what went on there, in ShitFuckTown, Oregon, but I did finally find my courage there. Some of it, anyway.

Next: chapter four.

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