“I would have done the same thing,” my friend said. She tried to make me feel better about having an abortion. She was the one who drove me to Planned Parenthood. She told me not to look when we passed the group of protesters holding up signs of gruesomely disfigured babies. When it was all over, she was the one who drove me to her house, helped me lay down on her futon, and fed me fish sticks and French fries.
I was doped up on anesthesia, which also helped numb my fears about what Michael might say about me actually going through with the procedure. He wanted me to keep our baby. He was excited about the possibility of our little family. Although I wanted Michael to be the person I spent the rest of my life with, I wasn’t ready for forever to start during my junior year in college.
I had the abortion because I was scared. I was afraid of disappointing all the people who helped me get to college and stay in college. My mom paid for my private schooling, a good chunk of my college tuition, and for my rent every month. My dad sent me money every week and checked on me weekly. My grandfather, a minister, drove me to and from elementary and middle school for years. Bringing home a baby would have been so disrespectful, after everything they had done for me.
I was also afraid to face my friends and classmates. I didn’t want to be the pregnant girl on campus. I just wanted to go to class like everyone else and be involved in a few campus activities. It all seems so shallow now. The people I was most worried about blending in with are not even a part of my life today. My child would still be here.
But at the time, it felt like a lose-lose situation. I had to choose between becoming a college mom or potentially losing everything I had with Michael. Everyone around me said education came first, so that’s what I chose.
After I “terminated my pregnancy,” as the doctors say, Michael and I argued all summer. We argued about everything – missed phone calls, the tone of our voices when we spoke to each other, sneakers he wanted to buy me, a Habitat for Humanity assignment I worked on…everything.
He was still in Tallahassee taking summer classes, I was in Connecticut doing a summer internship. Michael bragged about the new friends he was making that summer at school…they were all girls of course. There was one new friend that he mentioned more than the others. Her name was Jessica. I met her my freshman year, when we tried out for the same dance group. I made the group; she didn’t. She was a much better singer than dancer, and she used her voice to gain popularity on campus.
She was much more popular than I was, and I could feel Michael drifting toward her. I felt like there was nothing I could do about it from Connecticut. I felt totally out of control of everything – our relationship, my mood swings, and my guilt.
“I can’t take this anymore,” I told Michael. “I’m sick of this.” I kept saying things like that to him. He believed me, and we broke up in the middle of the summer.
We still talked just about every day, except now he no longer said “I love you,” and he stopped calling me “baby.” I tried to explain to him that I wasn’t sick of him and that I didn’t want our relationship to end, but now he was the one who said he needed space. I didn’t know how to change his mind.
When I got back to Tallahassee that fall, Michael no longer called me every day to come to his apartment for dinner and the laughing and playing between us wasn’t as light. We still talked and we still spent time together, but the easiness of our relationship was gone. Sometimes I could handle being around him without being with him; other times it hurt too much.
He was spending more time with his new friend Jessica. I would see her walking in and out of his apartment sometimes. I was spending a lot more time alone. I was trying to figure out how to survive without him. I tried to revive the friendships that I neglected while Michael and I were together. I ate with my roommate from freshman year and her roommates every so often. Michael’s roommate let me ride with him to campus some days, but no one was as consistent as Michael was. It was junior year and everyone had already established their groups of friends. Michael was my “group.” Without him I felt isolated.
My friends encouraged me to start dating other people.
“What’s your type?” they asked, full of hope.
“Michael,” I answered sadly.
I lost interest in my classes, I stopped getting extra help on my assignments, and I no longer cared if my professors knew who I was.
The one thing I became passionate about during my junior year was the MTV show, “Making the Band.” On the show, P. Diddy had a talent search to find rappers and singers to form a new hip-hop group. I decided that I was going to figure out how to work for his company, Bad Boy Records.
I watched the show and wrote down the names of anyone whose name flashed across the screen. I sent resume after resume to those names and followed up with even more phone calls. This was the one thing that took my mind off of Michael. At the end of the spring semester of my junior year, I was rewarded with a one-point something GPA for all of my hard work.
When the school year ended, there was no memorable goodbye from Michael, but the upcoming summer would turn out to be one of the best of my life.