One Day When I Was Twenty-two

It was a typical weekday morning. My body slowly began to awake, eyes opening, then closing back every so often. I don’t wake up with a bang. Never have. When I was really young I woke up well before the sun, though the process was the same. Slowly awakening, body and mind, to the new day.

I’d usually drag myself out of bed and stumble towards the nearest TV, either in the living room or my parents’ room, depending on the day of the week. I’d watch old shows like Gentle Ben and Flipper, or new ones like Kid’s Incorporated, sometimes with my eyes closed, until my body felt human. I’d also watch The Today Show, since this was a staple in our family’s morning routine.

As I got a little older and my room became my sanctuary, I simply stayed there, dosing in and out in my own bed. My mom would attempt to wake me by turning on a low lamp and my morning radio show. She’d also place a small glass of OJ on my nightstand. I know, I know. She was too good to me.

This particular morning, however, seemed like a lifetime away from those days. I’d been living four hours from home for the previous four-ish years. Enough time to make some new routines while keeping some the same.

Since this particular day was a workday, I definitely needed extra time to wake up. That part just never seemed to change. I’d usually give myself like two hours to fully wake up before any work day. I actually still do this in a way. Waking up all the way is just hard.

And as I laid there, in my small upstairs bedroom of the townhouse I shared with three other friends, feeling no kinda way about much of anything, I willed myself to get up and start the day. Out of bed I rolled and, while heading towards the Jack and Jill bathroom I shared with one of my roomies, I flipped on The Today Show.

Now this part feels a bit awkward to share, but since we’re all human and grown, I’ll share. I want to give the full picture, which wouldn’t be complete without these details. So, here goes… I sat down to use the potty and literally, as my bladder emptied, a thought began to fill my head. A somewhat dreadful one, which, at first, I didn’t think much of since I still wasn’t all that awake.

That thought?? Well, it’s another awkward subject, but I’ll assume we’ve all been taught about the birds and the bees by now, so…

*calmly thinking* “Hey. I should be starting soon.”

*still calm* “How many days has it been, anyway?”

*doing math and memory exercises while still sitting there {insert calculator and cog wheel noises here}* “Really??

*calm turning slowly into clammy and tense* “Ummm, wait. No. Not possible. It’s not been six weeks since my last period?! No way. Has it?!”

*clammy now becoming full blown panic* “I’m just late. But I’ve never been late. It happens though. My friends have irregular cycles. That’s what it is. I felt awful a couple weeks ago, though. I was supposed to start then. Then I forgot and never have. Oh no. Please, no.

I’d been dating a guy for the previous two months. I met him out dancing one night with some friends. He was a year younger than me and in still in school for computer science. I was still living in our college town, working a random job because I was confused about my next steps. My psychology degree was pretty useless without more school, but I honestly never thought I could hack it in a master’s program. Not back then. I could barely handle my own mind, let alone tack on learning more about the minds of others. And so, I’d basically stayed put to find myself.

Not at all like this, though!

We’d actually started to argue, too. This guy and I. The typical push and pull that tended to happen with me. We were such opposites. And it was beginning to be less and less attractive. Not him, mind you. He was something. It was the fact we could never seem to see eye to eye on anything. In two months, we’d found only one band’s album that we could agreed on. So, we played that ad nauseum. The list went on with our differences.

Who fights after dating only two months, you may ask… Exactly. That’s like honeymoon period days, right?! And it’d begun to weigh on us both. To the point we’d nearly broken up one night. Knowing this, made everything I was thinking in that moment feel even more scary. I couldn’t imagine what he would even say, let alone imagine that he would stay. I didn’t even really know him. The whole thing felt like a dream.

After gathering my thoughts, I finished up in the bathroom and decided to get ready early, since my usual wake up routine suddenly felt unnecessary. I also wanted to stop by the drug store on my way to work and pick up a pregnancy test. I’d take it when I got to work and everything would be fine. After showering and dressing in record time, then turning off The Today Show I’d yet to tune into, I hopped into my car, lit a cigarette, and got on the road.

Now, standing in the family planning aisle while twenty-two, unmarried, and in the middle of trying to bring sanity to an already semi-crazy life, brings a whole new meaning to the word, lost.

In fact, it’s got a way of making you feel downright alone. Like I’d done everything wrong and backwards. I’d had friends experience similar situations. I knew the outcomes and burdens. The pain. My own Mom got pregnant at fourteen. I knew the struggle well.

Or, maybe not well enough.

After grabbing the most expensive test, I hustled to the counter, then without making eye contact, sheepishly paid the clerk. In that moment, I couldn’t decide which was worse…  buying condoms or a pregnancy test. In hindsight, condoms weren’t that embarrassing. I also regretted not buying more condoms when I had the chance.

I left quickly and walked almost numb, back to my car. I felt like I wanted to both stop and speed up time. Sitting in my car, I lit another cigarette before pulling out of parking lot and driving to work.

It wasn’t a long commute. In fact, I was living pretty close to my job after months of working at my company’s other locations. I worked for an executive apartment home community and I actually really loved it. Especially the property I’d been working at the previous few months. I adored my boss, Pat, and another co-worker, Randall, who was head of maintenance. We were like a little family. It likely helped that we all basically worked out of the property’s club house area, complete with kitchen, great room, pool, and restroom. Which was where I beelined upon arriving at work that morning and busting through the double doors of the place.

Pat happened to be walking right in front of me towards her office, and after glancing my way, stopped right in her tracks.

“Are you okay?” She asked calmly.

Reaching into the drugstore bag, I held up the test box for her to see and said, “No.”

And do you know what that woman said to me next? I won’t hold you in suspense…

“Oh, yeah. You’re pregnant.”

Just like that. All matter of fact and a little too all-knowing for my liking. After scoffing, then asking her how she could possible know that, then her saying she just did, I stomped right into the bathroom and readied myself to see if she was, in fact, correct.

Waiting the required five minutes, or however long they take, feels like an entire eternity, if you’ve not experienced it. Pat was knocking on the door. I was shaking in my shoes, with hands that could barely turn the knob for the sweat. It felt all so unprofessional, but that’s how she was. Kind and caring. A mom first, with two daughters of her own. I let her in and she sat with me and stared at that stick until lines began to appear and I knew the truth.

Since Pat already seemed to.

It was only a few weeks prior, during Mardi Gras, that she’d brought us all a colorful, King Cake to enjoy at work. I’d never heard of it before then. She explained that there was a baby baked in, hidden somewhere in the cake and if you got the piece with the baby, you had good luck all year. I needed luck, so had quickly sliced us up a couple pieces each to get going with it.

And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you I got the piece with the baby. I was floored, too, because I couldn’t tell you a time I’d ever gotten the surprise anything… be it a raffle or drawing or dice roll. So I screamed a bit in excitement. Not because of the future luck. Just because I felt like I’d kinda won something.

And while sitting there staring at those double lines, I remembered that moment with the plastic baby in my slice of cake, and sarcastically asked her if this was the real idea of that baby… an actual baby! Then I quickly turned to thoughts of the father.

How would I tell him? What would he think? How will he respond?

Sharing this out loud, my boss tells me to leave and go tell him immediately. She was the best, honestly! So I called to let him know I was coming over to discuss something important. Then on my way outside, stopped to smoke my usual morning cigarette with my best bud Randall.

He’d been waiting for me, I still believe, finding things to keep himself busy in the work shed near the club house office. Likely realizing something was off when I hadn’t looked his way or come outside to chat, yet. Most mornings when I got to work, we’d nod a knowing glance, since I wasn’t a morning person and he was the silent type. This meant we’d meet in a sec, then head to Chick-fil-A in his car for our breakfast and sweet tea. Randall was a man of few words. Strong and protective, always reminding me to let him know when I was showing an apartment alone so he could “work” nearby. He was about ten years older than me, blasted hip-hop, worked and looked like a beast, but deep down was just a big, kind-hearted, teddy bear. When he spoke you listened, though.

He was waiting with a lighter when I walked out. Lighting my cig, then his, he simply sat there silently. I was too shocked for tears, so looked at him and blurted out the truth. He just kept staring off. We both kept smoking. Then I said with a grin something about this part having to end, but sweet tea from Chick-fil-A would never end. He smiled kindly back at me and nodded sweetly.

I headed off to do what had to be done. On the way, though, I stopped to pick up a few more tests. Okay, it was five more. One could never be too sure about these things. Back then I didn’t understand what exactly these tests checked for and that a false positive wasn’t even a thing.

I don’t really remember pulling into that parking lot and walking the flight of stairs up to his door. What I do remember is him opening it and me staring into his clueless face, knowing his life was about to change forever. Also knowing it wasn’t in any way he’d be expecting.

Bag of five tests in hand, I basically walked in and blurted out my morning. Then said I brought more tests to be sure with me and lifted my bag. He had this stunned look. Like he wasn’t quite comprehending. I told him the first one was probably wrong, then went and took another. *positive* Then another. *positive* And, another.*still positive*

And with each one, it slowly began to sink in that a baby was our new reality. And after about an hour and the last two tests done and too much water drunk, we were convinced. We began to talk and consider. I knew immediately I was having the baby. With my parent’s past, this was not even in question. I had a college degree, a job with insurance, plus a supportive, loving family. This was my reality. Funny thing was, we didn’t even know each other well enough for him to know this about me.

He was quick to support me. To tell me whatever I needed he could help with… and, however I wanted to handle it, he’d be there. I saw where he was going and it dawned on me that we didn’t know each other at all. How could we be having a baby, again?!?

I gently explained my position and how I’d been through some hard decisions with friends and that my heart had settled back then and there on this topic. I also told him I understood where he was in life, still in school trying to complete a tough major. And that because we didn’t know each other I’d never want him to feel trapped by my decision, yet also didn’t want him to feel like I’d ever hold him or his family back from his child, so simply said, “You can have as much or as little to do with this choice and I’ll respect either decision, but I am keeping this baby.”

He’d been kneeling on the floor in front of the chair I’d been seated on and blurted out, “Oh.”

Then, after a second or so, he placed a hand on each one of my legs, and while looking at me with the kindest, most sincere face, he simply said, “Well, let’s get married then.”

Did he just know what he said? Is he in shock? He can’t feel like this!

But we hugged and I grinned and told him okay, then asked if he was sure. He seemed sure. I had to go either way, so we made plans to meet up that night after work and classes. I headed back to my car, lit my cigarette, and dashed quickly back to work, still in a daze but breathing a little easier.

I often wonder what he did after I left him.

3 thoughts on “One Day When I Was Twenty-two”

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