The Ohio summer air was warm and muggy. My friend Vicki and I had spent the day perfecting our rollerskating skills on my driveway. I had white skates with a big blue stripe down each side, and large blue pom poms with bells in the middle. Vicki and I were sweaty and tired and tumbled into the house eager for a snack. Our young, awkward bodies scampered onto the bar stools near the kitchen. We explosively giggled as we gobbled up bologna and cheese rolled up and secured with a toothpick. We washed it down with the cool, sweet, sugary syrup of Kool Aid. The simple textures and tastes of childhood. Vicki and I debated our next move; Barbies or dress up?
John was handsome, popular, in drama club, and my first boyfriend. Why he chose to go out with me instead of all the pretty girls in our school I still don’t know. The mother of our friend Jamie owned a small cafe in town. On Fridays she would open the cafe an hour early for Jamie and his friends to eat breakfast before school. John used to always order coffee and it made him seem so grown up. I desperately wanted to seem as mature and sophisticated as him but I couldn’t get past the bitterness of the coffee. I started ordering black tea. We sat around old restaurant tables with red vinyl chairs drinking coffee, tea and relishing homemade blueberry pancakes. For the first time in my awkward adolescence I belonged.
He didn’t have any money to take me out. I knew that. We sat across from each other in a small deli and split a club sandwich and a bowl of broccoli cheese soup. It was cold outside and it didn’t feel all that much warmer sitting in the booth. I don’t think either one of us noticed. We talked about everything, nothing, and things that now no longer seem important. The soup was warm, the sandwich simple and as we walked out of the restaurant I told him to kiss me. He did.
We collapsed on the small, stiff couch in the hotel room. The “President’s Suite” was a disaster. The fireplace didn’t work and the toilet instantly overflowed. This wasn’t at all how we imagined spending our wedding night. I was still in my fairy tale dress and he in his tux. I silently wandered into the bathroom and peeled off my wedding dress and slid on a pair of soft work out pants and a t-shirt. I emerged from the bathroom to see him laying on the large bed holding two glasses of champagne and the stack of wedding cards. I curled up snug next to him. He handed me the champagne glass. We whispered, toasted, and the cold, sparkly, sweetness glided down my throat. We laughed and told stories about our wedding as if we had been guests and not the people exchanging vows. We delicately opened each card, reading the words out loud, and commenting on the giver.
The cramping had grown worst as the night progressed and by 5:00 AM I gave up trying to sleep. I quietly crept out of the bedroom and into our over-stuffed recliner. I tried timing the pains but I never could determine starting and stopping times. David poked his head out of the bedroom and said; “are you okay? Why are you up?” He never heard me wake up before so I was startled to see him standing there. I sheepishly replied; “I’m having some contractions, but I don’t think it is anything big.” A big smile spread across his face and he said confidently; “you’re in labor”. I thought it was rather smug of him to be so confident when he wasn’t the one having the pains and I was a good five weeks away from my due date. He grabbed a blanket and curled up on the couch, “I’m going to lay down here with you. Wake me up if they get stronger.” I closed my eyes and tried to ignore them. The fact that this strategy hadn’t worked for the past four hours didn’t seem important. By 7:00 AM I knew we were going to be making a trip to the hospital. I methodically took a shower, shaved my legs, got dressed and stood in the kitchen. They woudn’t feed me in the hospital so I had to eat now. Nothing sounded good to eat. The house was eerily quiet as I poured a bowl of Cheerios. The loud crunching in my mouth felt like an intrusion into the moment. I was becoming a mother. Soon my life would be something I couldn’t imagine. The bowl ceremoniously clanked into the sink. I woke David and we drove to the hospital.