I walked as fast as I could to the car, got in, locked the door, put the gear in reverse and left that horrible place of terror and blackmail disguised as a pregnancy counseling and support center. I stopped a few blocks away in the supermarket parking lot and chose a space near the outer edge. I had already had my fill of being in the middle of the action. I wanted the very edge of what was happening. I sat there for what seemed like an eternity. I didn't cry but tears did fall on my chest. I watched cars and trucks come and go. I felt the time ticking away and thought of the classes that I had skipped that day and what I must have missed by not being there. I thought of the fact that no one had any clue to where I was at that very moment and there were only 3 or 4 people in the world that knew I was pregnant and that I could just disappear and it would just be a bump in the timelife of life. I had a conversation with myself about how I could have been so dumb and not recognized what kind of place it was in advance and prevented myself from ever having had to experience that kind of nuttiness. But if I were so skilled at prevention, might I not have ever been in the situation like I was?
What was I going to do?
I loved the bouncer as far as my capacity to understand love went. I did believe that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. I just didn't want to start it out like this. I recounted the events of the past 12 hours and how dramatically my life had changed by one fact. I was not the same person as I was 24 hours ago. Confusion surrounded me and I sought clarity so desperately within the walls of my brain. I continued to sit there exploring options within my head - even without the information that I so strongly desired to be part of that equation.
The afternoon turned late and I found myself still sitting in the parking lot. Alone. I realized that hours had passed and that I still hadn't eaten. I drove two blocks to the Checkers and ordered a burger and iced tea. I took two bites and felt sick so I left the remaining in the wrapper and drank the tea while I ran the events of the day through my head one last time. I decided that I would sleep on the glaring fact that I was pregnant and revisit this whole mess in the morning. I felt exhausted and I thought sleep would probably come easy.
It was 7:55 when I walked into the dorm room. I remember the time because my roommate (the girlfriend) was pacing back and forth. When she heard the key in the door, she came over and was wrapping her arms around me proclaiming her joy that I had returned because in another five minutes, she was going to call campus police.
"Why are you so worried?" I asked. I felt numb and really didn't want to engage with another person.
"The Bouncer called. He told me that you are pregnant and what happened at the apartment. He's been calling here every 15 minutes since lunch time. He's worried sick about you and that you're going to do something stupid. I'm just glad that you are here and ok," she finished off her tangled outburst.
"I want to go to bed and talk about this tomorrow," was all I said. She sensed the finality of my words and didn't press. I stripped off my clothes and put on my nightshirt. I realized that my breast were more sore now than they've ever been and it was yet another reminder of the events and reality of the day. I felt my abdomen and pelvic region as if to reconcile the reality that there was something in there. As my head hit the pillow of that single bed with soft sheets, I heard my roommate pick up the phone and dial. The tones echoed around that small dorm room like a swirling tornado cradled in deafening silence. That's what I felt caught up in - the winds of a tornado with nothing to hold tight to. It was like I was watching the entire world and it's belongings and entrapments and dreams fly by me faster than I could mentally or physically grasp them. At some point soon thereafter, I fell into a very deep, exhausted, sleep.
When I awoke the next morning, the hangover loomed all over the room in an oppressive air. You've probably experienced that bad dream hangover where you hope that the sleep has erased everything bad that happened the previous day but the moment you open your eyes, you realize that it's all still there and no amount of sleep is going to erase those events or change the reality of that very moment. I didn't dare want to move for fear of it all crashing down on me again. There was a note on my desk mirror that read, 'Everything's going to be ok. PLEASE call the bouncer. He loves you and he's going crazy not being with you. Please call him."
Something had changed within me. I realized it right then. I wanted what ever was inside me. It wasn't because I was afraid of what God would do - that's not how I ever saw God. I didn't understand why - I just knew that whatever my choices were, it was going to involve having a baby. I knew what. I now was charged with the task of figuring out how. I sensed that it wasn't going to be a solo job but that was as far as I had figured things out. I felt a mental clarity of confidence. Perhaps it was denial but knowing now what I know about myself - I know that I was clear after that night's sleep. I didn't feel the desperation that I had felt just hours before. The answers had found their way to me while I slept. My whole life has been like that...be still and the sorting will come upon me. I told myself that this day, I would go to class, get caught up on what I missed and then in the afternoon I would think more about what I might want to do.
The ringing of that touch tone phone startled me into a jolt. My heart was racing as I glanced at the clock. It was only 8:10 am. I didn't answer and it switched to the answering machine. I knew the voice that I was going to hear and it was no surprise when I heard those familiar words of the bouncer, "Please pick up the phone. Please pick up. I know you are there. I love you. I know you said three days but I can't do it. Please call me."
I had a 9 o'clock class on that day and I needed to get moving. I showered, dressed and left the dorm for the hike across campus. I felt alive and dead all at the same time. The experience was surreal and certainly something that words really can't articulate adequately. The reality was like a heavy weight upon me but not one of a burden. The burden was yesterday. Today I was just faced with the reality and choices. Choices and the nausea.
Classes were a blur pretty much and when I returned to the dorm I slept again for several hours. The roommate had come and gone. There were 10 or so messages on the machine. I knew who they would be from and hit the erase button without listening to them. Reflecting on that after all these years makes me realize that I was not very concerned about the Bouncer's feelings at that point. I've asked myself what kind of person that made me and I don't know the answer. Perhaps I was scared young woman who got caught up in the twist and turns of her life and wanting to sort it herself instead of having someone else make a choice for her. Or perhaps I didn't have the maturity or understanding of what it means to really love someone and put their feelings right there with yours in such a life altering decision. I just needed to sort and once I did, I could open up to the rest of the world - including The Bouncer. He had a stake in this too - this was his baby and I felt so sure that his words were matching his feelings. I couldn't deny him that and I loved him too much to discard him to the side forever.
I realized I was hungry and still nauseated. Eating would make me feel better. It did. The knowledge that I was pregnant made me choose more healthy food too. While walking back across campus from the cafeteria, I thought about the Bouncer and how awful this must be for him being away from me and having me ignore him. I decided I would call him when I got back to the dorm room . It would be before his shift at UPS began. I wanted him to know that I was ok.
I opened the exterior door to the dorm and out of habit, looked inside the hall. There, in front of my dorm room door, about 30 feet down the hall, sat the bouncer with his head back against the wall. His hands were clasped together and his knees drawn up to his chest. He was just sitting there. When I saw him before he saw me, I knew right then that I loved him and we would get married. That's what I wanted. I just needed the space and freedom to choose that. And now I had.
I heard the door close behind me and so did he.