For some unknown reason, we were talking about abortion.
"I just wouldn't wanna be different from everybody else, you know?" explained the girl with the curly hair, on why she'd never get one.
The five of us sat semi-circle in the dark, a soft glow emanating somewhere from the background and casting ominous edges across our post-pubescently round faces. It was as if we were telling horror stories around a campfire and not suffering through a tech rehearsal for the annual student choreographed dance "recital" or "concert" -- depending on whom you asked.
The curly-haired girl had a mean kick-ball-change; basically she was our Blair Waldorf. So when she announced that she'd never get an abortion because she couldn't be different from all the other sexually active and only marginally responsible 19-year-old co-eds, the rest of us lemmings shook our heads in agreement, muttering things like, "Ohmigah you're sooo right" and "Me neither! Abortion? Yuck!"
I don't remember exactly what I said but it was nothing like this:
I was maybe two months shy of having actively exercised my own right to life. After an idiotic night of "safer sex" with a guy I didn't even like that much, I ended up in the family way and all I wanted was a way out.
I wanted to forget the whole thing ever happened. I wanted to forget that I was, in fact, one of the "different" girls. But then again, maybe I wasn't. Who's to say since nobody says anything?
A few semesters passed I was herding with another pack of girls with opinions stronger than mine.
One night, as we marched down some avenue in search of a kind bouncer, a girl asked in front of everyone why I'd been to "women's health" so many times in the last week. I said I was having some issues. What kind, she asked. The kind that I didn't want to talk about in the streets on a Saturday night.
Another girl "saved" me by talking about the time she missed her period, which came after much prayer. She was glad because, "You know that's like murder, right? I could never do it. Kill my own child? My flesh and blood." She stopped to look me in the eyes when she said that. I just nodded. Then we ordered Amaretto Sours.
Years later, I found out that Miss It's Murder had her own customer rewards card at P Squared. When we talked about it as for real grown-ups, the one-sided conversation we had as teenagers seemed like a dream. I never asked why she'd out and out lied to me. Did she want me to stand up for myself? For us? Or maybe, like me, she was so far gone into forgetting that she actually believed she was no longer "different."
How different can you be when 4 out of 5 (I just made that stat up from personal field research) of you are hiding the same "secret"? Lending silence to a "shame" that we maybe should be shouting about.
That's why s.e.'s "abortion gallery" is so important, but still so hard for me to do. I didn't have a hang nail removed in 1999. I had an abortion. It wasn't fun and it has, in fact, forever changed me. But no longer a 19-year-old afraid of what change would make of me, at 31 I'm settled in the knowledge that there is no constant when it comes to the etymology of me. I'll never truly be able to write my origin story.
The first time I mentioned my "procedure" in a casual conversation among women was in grad school. I was 24, living in a new city and finally "doing" something. No one was shocked when I said, "Well, I had one sophomore year." No one threw holy water on me or fainted. They nodded their heads and then we started talking about Britney Spears.
I didn't feel different. I felt decided.
xoJane is creating a user gallery to talk about our experiences with abortion. If you’ve had an abortion, we want your photo with a sign to tell us about it, and we want you to send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can include some notes about your experience if you feel so inclined. If you want to protect the right to access abortion, we want to hear from you too.