JOIN DATE: 3/14/2012
At a loud, trendy restaurant, my most beloved friends and I drank sangria and passed plates of paella and assorted tapas around the table all while cracking each other up with our special brand of inane humor. It was my 22nd birthday, and I couldn’t believe my luck. I felt the warmth and giddiness of being surrounded by people who loved me for me and who I loved for them. Yet amid the images illuminated by the soft glow of white Christmas lights and accompanied by sultry flamenco music also exist memories of secrecy.
Little did these bright and beautiful faces know that a few days earlier, I’d terminated a pregnancy.
The weeks leading up to the event were at once frenetic and calm. I’d taken what seemed like 20 home-pregnancy tests perched over toilets in various coffee shops and my friend’s home, plus at least three tests at the clinic. The final clinic test confirmed it. “You are pregnant,” said the young, pretty doctor with the soft voice and soft hair.
I exhaled. At least I knew for certain. I calmly made an appointment. That weekend, I withdrew the fee in exact change from the bank, and on the day, a trusted friend dropped me off. Amid the other girls in the waiting room who shed copious tears while handing over their bundle of cash, I calmly passed my “get out of jail” money to the receptionist and said “Thank you” when she handed me a receipt. It was something to take care of. Emotions only get in the way. A polite “Thank you” is in order, no matter what the circumstance.
When my friend, who’d pulled up behind the clinic, helped me (still groggy from the drugs) into the passenger seat and closed the door, I burst into tears. I cried so hard I could barely breathe. To this day, I don’t know exactly why I cried, what emotions were pouring out my eyes, and despite being a hyper-reflective person, I never sought to find out. It’s over. Better not to think about it.
Being ashamed of an abortion is obviously not culturally specific. No matter what race or color you are, it’s not an enviable position to find yourself in. For once in my life, however, I found my Asian-ness an asset. Sometimes silence makes you strong. Sometimes it keeps you from breaking into a million pieces.
In that restaurant, in the silence between giggles and flamenco music, I quietly counted my blessings.