Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Thing 1's 18 years old, today.

In July of 1994, I was a miserable pregnant teenaged girl. I was living in a 10x14 room with a full-size bed, a refrigerator, a hot plate, a toilet, a sink, and a shower. The toilet and shower occupied the same footprint in a tiny closet paneled with showerboard, meaning I could sit on the toilet while taking a shower if I really, really felt like it (I never did). We had two windows, one had a box fan blowing hot air out of the room. Being Florida, and near the ocean, it rained every afternoon. All of my possessions fit in a duffel bag. The refrigerator had a break in the door seal, so finding groggy roaches hanging out on top of my WIC cheese and juice was a daily occurrence.

I shared this room with a guy who chain-smoked and drank beer for most of the day, when he wasn't picking fights, stealing whatever money I managed to save, and hitting me for hiding money from him. About a week before we left, we took in a room-mate, who slept on the floor between the bed and the window. He paid us in food stamps and a flea infestation. I weighed about 175, up from my normal 115-120. Most of this was water weight, caused by the excessive heat and humidity and a swiftly developing case of pre-eclampsia. I had stretch marks from arms to thighs, thanks to the rapid weight gain. The day before I had Tony I started having contractions, but the hospital said it was just due to the amniocentesis the week prior, and sent me back home. The next day, I came in for a follow-up appointment. They discovered I'd been leaking amniotic fluid pretty much since the amnio, and so they admitted me to the hospital and started a Pitocin drip. I wasn't prepared for an overnight trip so I didn't have anything with me. The Pitocin drip kicked in pretty hard after two hours, so they gave me Demerol, which is how I learned that Demerol gives me hallucinations, and not the good kind. After another six-hour nightmare of rolling panic attacks and hallucinations that I was drowning in an undertow, I delivered a 6lb 5oz boy. The father was downstairs chatting up a girl and trying to make a date for later that week, which I learned after she accosted him on the bus two days later. She was visibly horrified to see me holding a newborn and asking my then-boyfriend to help me with my nursing bra strap, as he'd assured her he was single. Hilarity ensued.

I used the first welfare check I received to buy a bus ticket out of Florida. I never looked back. Thing 1 lists his birthplace as Daytona Beach. He must think it's exotic to be from Florida. I could have had him in a gas station in Albuquerque, for all the attachment I felt to the place. I could have been anywhere hot and miserable. I shut my mind down for the last two months of my pregnancy, except for trips to the air-conditioned public library where I read books like Geek Love and Dolores Claiborne, any work of fiction where abusers got their comeuppance, and let myself pretend to be human for a while. I dreamed of getting myself out of this mess, and it was the first dream I made come true.

And now an entire childhood has passed. Thing 1 is older than I was when I ran away from home. He's graduated and finished one semester of college. I don't feel like I've lived long enough for this to have happened. In my head, I'm still a kid. Just somehow older and wiser.
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