For all the pro-choice fervour that has always, and always will, thrive in me, I was shocked by the staggering sadness that overcame me in the wake of this choice.
There is blood on my hands.
The nurse, a young woman in pink scrubs, apologises as she sops up my excess blood from the table, from the floor. She was just supposed to draw a sample but having pulled the stopper almost all the way out before inserting the syringe into my vein, she accidentally created a hungry vacuum that was already at capacity. My blood flows freely, with nowhere to go except everywhere.
I feel distant from myself, from the blood that’s all over. It’s mine but not a part of me anymore. It is useless now. It is waste.
It drips down my arm, forming a pool in the palm of my hand. And even then, I remember thinking: It was too on the nose, too obvious a symbol. Very fucking funny, universe, I thought. But try a little harder, hmm?
Outside, in the waiting room, my then-boyfriend, Will, waits. He is not allowed in until the procedure actually begins. By the time the procedure will actually start, I’ll be so high on painkillers that I’ll hardly need him. But now, as my anxiety and my guilt stack upon one another, now is when I wish he were here, to hold my stupid, bloody hands.
“These things happen,” the woman from our college health center tells me.
“When you’re irresponsible.”
She doesn’t know that I’d been taking birth control when I got pregnant. It was the kind that allows you to purposefully skip periods, so I was already more than eight weeks pregnant by the time I realized something was amiss. By then, it was too late for a chemical procedure (just a cocktail of pills, some water, no problem).
The abortion takes place during my next trip up from the Claremont Colleges in Southern California to the San Francisco Bay Area, where Will, who graduated a year before me, lives. I am 22-years-old, just weeks away from the honors art show I’ve spent all year preparing for, just a month shy of college graduation.
Will does not love me, but I cannot accept that yet. We’ve been together for three years, and I love him with the breathless desperation you can only love your first love with.
“What are you going to do?” he asks.
Get an abortion, I tell him, and even then, I know he’s relieved.