Bailey would be 10 this year. She would have had one green eye and one blue eye if her eyes would have developed. I know because I saw them and sometimes I still see them.
I did not know her dads legal first name until we were in the prep room together at the clinic and the nurse asked. It was the only time I laughed that day. He did not look like his name. But she would have looked just like a Bailey.
One week earlier we had been walking out of a new seasons in North East Portland. There was a sandwich board outside of a clinic that shared the complex. It said that there were free pregnancy tests happening right there. It hadn’t occurred to me until that moment that I might be pregnant. He was surprised when I told him I was going to go up and get one for the hell of it. I told him I would meet him back at the clown mansion where we were building bicycles for our great escape.
He went away and I took a long walk up to the second floor waiting room. When they handed me the paper to fill out there was a box for whether I wanted to be pregnant or not. That way, if I was, they could tell me in a somber or congratulatory way depending on my expectation.
They told me I was pregnant in a somber way. I scheduled the abortion for one week out. I didn’t even pause to consider. I asked how much it cost. I asked if they knew how I could get funding because three hundred dollars may as well have been one million.
The next week I rode my new bicycle in and out of DSHS offices all over Portland begging the state of Oregon to give me a emergency health care coverage. If I had wanted to get a physical or my teeth fixed I would have been shit out of luck, but the state was more than willing to terminate the pregnancy of a 17 year old houseless girl. Its just good business.
He wanted to come to those appointments but I would not let him. He was technically committing statutory rape and I was scared to have him anywhere near the shaming workers I encountered. The last thing I needed was for him to be arrested on charges that were not dependent on an accusation.
In between appointments I sat shocked, drinking beers and being melancholy while confused clowns offered condolences for a situation that I hadn’t told anyone about. I guess he was talking while I was away.
The beers made me feel sick. The offices made me feel sick. We had a lot of unprotected sex that week because what was there to lose? I needed him to still want me when this was all over.
The morning of the appointment we walked together to the same building I had taken the test in. I picked so much lavender on the way. I put piece after piece in my hair until nothing but flowers was visible.
When I arrived I found out that my temporary coverage from the state had not come through. The nurse was worried as she explained that they could only give abortions until 11 am because of funding or legalities or some such thing. My appointment was at 10:30, the money would not be there by then.
I begged her to help me find another way. I watched my friends pull up in the funny Cadillac we were all given by a sketchball who swore it was his but didn’t know the person on the title. There was no key to that car, you had to start it under the hood. Once we were pulled over on the freeway and we spent an hour convincing the cop it was our car only to have to get out and start it that way. At that point he was over it and just let us drive away.
I saw them in the parking lot. My best friend was in the drivers seat. She was waiting to take me home, out of the city, back to the woods. I wanted to get in that car.
The people at the clinic called all around and got me a spot at a downtown place for three hours from then. She called the state of Oregon and Oregon promised the papers would be in order by then.
I hardly ever showered but I suddenly felt self-conscious. So we went to a different friends house and I cleaned my body, then I put back on my dirty clothes.
The place downtown was much worse. It was on the eighth floor of a skyscraper. I was given five minutes of free counseling to make sure if I killed myself later no one would be liable. Then I found out his first name. I understood why he had changed it. Then I was in the room.
The clinic had a name with ‘womens’ in it and everyone I met who worked there was a woman until the doctor who administered the abortions came in. Of all the places to have your only male employee…why there? He was nice enough, but still.
There was a nurse in the room in charge of the laughing gas. I told her I didn’t want it but after he started the pump she tried to wrestle it onto my face. I had to hold the lower half of my body completely still while I fought to keep the mask off with my top half.
I was successful. I felt everything. They put me in a bed in a shared recovery room. The bed was by a big window overlooking downtown. “We put you by the window,” the nurse said, “because you seem like the outdoors type.” I don’t think I thanked her.
The room was filled with the sobs of one particular woman who was telling her mother how scared she was that her husband would find out. I was told to lie there for an hour but 5 minutes later he told me that the my best friend was in the waiting room and the Cadillac was downstairs. I told him to go to the car with her. I went to the bathroom, pulled out the gauze and left down the back stairs.
I slept in our beautiful little hobbit hole a few hours later. It still smelled like skunk from an incident a few weeks earlier, the smell was familiar and comforting. He was gentle when he held me that night. It was nice. That was not so common those days.
I was awake first.
I was peeing.
I didn’t feel that different and wondered if that meant they had not got it all.
I heard a noise and saw the big white trucks and the bulldozer. Oh no. The forest service was raiding. I had heard that this happened but I had never seen it and now I was the one who saw it coming first. I woke him up and made a mad dash to every ones camp.
We started stashing gear and running all around. There was a lot to do. We had gotten pretty complacent in the quiet of the previous year. This had not happened in a long time. We heard the crashing of every blockade coming down all along the road. They were getting closer and closer. He tried to get me to stop running. There was a hemorrhaging risk with that much movement so soon.
I would go and hide and sit but I couldn’t stay still. My friends needed me and whenever I slowed down I started to think and when I thought I saw one blue eye and one green eye and I wished I lived in a world where I could have been a supported young mother and and and…. I could not sit still. My brain that morning was more dangerous than the potential of a hemorrhage.
I didn’t hemorrhage and eventually the nightmare day was over. It was dark. No one was in jail. Nothing of consequence had been taken except our peace of mind.
One week after that we got on our bicycles and headed west to the coast. Then we headed south. We were beginning a bike trip that would last three months. I didn’t menstruate after the abortion for a very long time but I remember when I did. It was Mendocino and it was so painful.
I had a cramp tincture sitting on a window ledge next to me but when I went to grab it, it fell and shattered. We got free sandwiches and rode our bikes to an abandoned house that had been overrun will feral lemurs who used to be hippy pets but now lived and bred and flourished in their palace.
Those sandwiches were really good. There was cranberry sauce on mine. A lemur stole the second half of it while I slept in the driftwood gazebo that was on the cliff edge over the ocean. It was raining hard and the roof had a huge hole in the center. It was an intentional hole. Strange way to build a gazebo in such a rainy place. We laughed at how we may as well have been sleeping out, for as wet as we were getting, but the donut roof offered a nice illusion of shelter.
I was in pain. His comforting embraces had ended again and he told me to stop complaining. Didn’t I know that his back hurt? I wasn’t the only one who had pain you know.
Everyone I tried to talk to wanted to make an embryo either a disease with no spirit or a fully developed human. Everyone had an agenda. But Bailey was real and I knew her and I missed her and I wanted her and I couldn’t keep her. All of the things are true. I needed a lot of support that was not available. I needed someone to say that I was allowed to make a decision and to have that decision be the right one and to still have it break my heart.
My heart was broken. It still is a little bit.