April 25, 2003 Weightless
As a child I would stand at the edge of the pool—usually at the YMCA’s indoor pool. Then I would let myself tumble forward into the water. The warm water would surrounded me and for a moment, I would be weightless. In that moment I recalled what it must be like to be weightless in the womb. There was a faint memory and then it faded quickly, like the sensation. Suddenly, I was at the surface longing for that pleasant feeling of warmth and weightlessness. I’d climb out and and then do it all over again.
Is this how my baby feels? Happy, warm and comfortable inside me? I can only hope so. Does it know how much I already love it? How much it will be loved by its grandparents and family?
June 23, 2003
A memory came back to me recently. It was back in the fall of 1993. I had dropped out of school the 2nd time when Ben broke up with me. Mr. Jones wasn’t going to let me drop out of school, so after two weeks of not showing up and not giving them a doctor’s excuse, I received papers that I as going to court. It was the Juvenile Court on Hedges I believe. I didn’t know what to expect.
It was a rainy day, which I described as cold icy rain in my diary. I didn’t go into detail about the unofficial hearing. The hearing took place in a small basement room with no window or a tiny window I couldn’t see out of it. Since it was an unofficial hearing, the case went to a mediator instead of a judge. I guess if the mediator couldn’t get me back in school, then I’d go before a judge in an actual hearing on charges of Juvenile Delinquency or Truancy. Her name was Julie and she was about 8 months pregnant. She wore heavy eye make-up and looked to be about 30 years old. Despite her stern expression and attitude, she wasn’t bad looking. Let’s just say she could have been a fat old dude or an ugly bitch, but she wasn’t.
Julie looked over my file silently and told me, “You are not different from anyone else. You aren’t special. You are required to go to school like everyone else. If you don’t return to school, then you will go before the judge and end up in the detention hall here in this building. Do you want that?”
I gazed down at my feet and shook my head no. I didn’t want to be put in jail. That is why I left school in the first place. It felt like a prison. I resent Julie for telling me that I wasn’t special or different because I felt like I was. I wanted an education and I wanted to succeed in life. I wasn’t stupid and I wasn’t lazy. I was just dealing with some very serious and dramatic issues. Issues I didn’t quite know how to voice or even comprehend at the time.
Mr. Jones spoke next. His words were gentler than Julie’s. He said, “What can we do to get you back in school?” He went on to suggested that he meet me half way. He’d speak to the teachers and make sure that they’d work with me on making up all the work I’d missed and that I could start out with just two or three classes at first and ease my way back into school.
As he spoke, I remember gazing at Julie. Her hand was on her rather large belly. Perhaps she felt the baby move. I remember a feeling a mixture of things. Would she treat her child like she treated me? Would she be harsh and insensitive or would she be a good mother? Did she simply tire of students who didn’t care? Was it her job that had made her jaded? Perhaps after her child was born she’d understand—at least I hoped she would. It could have been her 2nd or 3rd child, but I felt perhaps that it was her 1st. Even if she already had other children I doubted that they would have been old enough to have struggled like I was struggling. When she saw her child suffer and deal with painful situations, she wouldn’t see things in such a black and white manor I thought. The image of Julie resting her hand on her very pregnant belly stuck with me and I never knew why.
In any case, something clicked inside of me when faced with the choice of jail or school. I chose school. Mr. Jones’s willingness to bend over backward made it pretty easy to return. Perhaps I realized finally that School was a choice and not necessarily something I had to do. Despite the threat of DH, I had finally made school my choice. Perhaps seeing Julie and hearing Mr. Jones made me have compassion. I wasn’t blindly hating or rebelling against authority. I understood.
Later, I came to see that Mr. Jones probably took us to court because he saw how much of a waste it would be if I never finished High School. I think perhaps he saw that I was different than the other drop outs. I had potential. I had passion and intelligence. Most dropouts do little with their lives even if forced to stay in school. In the years that followed I saw Nikki and Ben drop out before the age of 18.
I never saw them get hassled or taken to court over it. They slipped through the cracks. I realized that Mr. Jones was wise to take action and try to save someone who needed saved. I want to thank him now for what he did.
And Julie? I saw her when I was in Summer School months later. Her son was in front of Madison High School. He was on the hill by the Vocational Side. She was in a sundress and her pregnant belly was all gone. Despite the change in her appearance, I recognized her. I wasn’t sure if she’d changed jobs or was at Madison as a part of her job as Mediator. I had the urge to speak to her, to tell her that I would finish Summer School in a few weeks and that I’d have my Diploma. I don’t think I ever spoke to her though. I never asked her about her views and her life. Had it changed as much as mine had?