Tag: reproduction

Him.

This post is a part of a series that explores relationships in the context of abuse and abortion, entitled, You Become Her.

this is a portrait.

He is tall. 6’3″ if i remember. his body is supple and muscular. his skin is soft and it has a healthy sheen. i remember when he would laugh and look beside me, so that his face seemed different, incredibly cool. and his voice was ocean bottom deep.

he took my car one night as i fell asleep. i was irritated to wake up constantly with the room dimly lit and the sound of him eating Fast Food. it was the last night i spent at his house, and i remember the irritable details of it vividly. but that cannot explain why.

He lived in his mom’s basement and when I came over she wouldn’t see me, or I wouldn’t see her. The one time he took me through the front door, I met his stepdad and felt ashamed when looked he at me with one eyebrow raised and said, “You don’t have any kids?” His stepson would be able to correct that. But the intention was actually to verify that I was indeed a ho.

this is a portrait.

He is a bundle of genes that perfectly outweigh mine. they fix everything that my makeup gets wrong. yes, mix medium brown skin and my wrinkles fall away. add long, lean limbs and my proportions lengthen and become more attractive. combine a bouncy, young athletic quality and my rigidity and propensity to age and sag vanish. blend thick, hydrated hair and big white teeth and replace what is fine and minor. as the years and months pass by, i think of him this way. like high quality DNA in a sperm bank that i desperately want to re-mix with my own and make another baby. another you.

he pulled me over when i was pulling away in my car, face shining with smooth attraction. my own hair was matted sweaty to my face but it looked casual, sexy. i wore a summer t-shirt, hoops and black leggings. i felt myself pull toward him, and then i pushed away.

After it happened, I told him that I couldn’t go back to the way things were. I couldn’t sleep with him again. There was a boundary of terror that I would not cross, but I needed his attention and approval. He told me from behind the meat counter to fix my hair and I did. He wanted to tell me one on one at a party that I was a bad girl and I stood there and listened.

this is a portrait.

I only write because I have something to say.

This is a part of a series that explores themes of motherhood and abortion as well as intergenerational trauma. The series is entitled, Bloodlines.

Growing up, instead of mandatory church on Sundays, I was required to attend dance performances (at least two shows per season) and offer my well-informed thoughts on all of the pieces immediately afterward. “Take your child to work day” often meant being pulled out of school for three weeks to travel the world with a modern dance company. And unlike my friends in the suburbs, we knew a lot of gay people and were never discouraged from going downtown.

My mom was Linda Andrews; her company Zenon Dance; and right now, despite myself, I’m back home in Minneapolis, fulfilling a child-of-the-artistic-director-requirement: I am attending the final season, the summer intensive, the last show. People from choreographers to dancers to dedicated students who have known me since I was a baby look me in the eye and tell me how good it is that I travelled to be here to support my mother. I look them back and think about how I didn’t have a choice.

***

The language of no choice is interesting for several reasons. 1. It applies to my abortion. 2. My mom also uses it about Zenon closing. I wonder what she really knows about not having a choice, when she says it. I wonder if it is caused by the same energy that caused my pregnancy outcome. I wonder why we don’t claim agency over our own lives.

***

As I sit in the audience on the premiere night of Zenon’s last performance weekend, my mind races. It is not that the dance isn’t captivating. It is. My favorite feminist piece is being performed, as well as the work of Wynn Fricke, my favorite choreographer. But I am here in the audience for the last time. My mom’s career is actually ending. Finally, I think, mine might be able to begin – and I take off.

***

I spent pretty much all of the weekend obsessing over this idea – and trying to control it. I’ve always found it hard to exist as my own person in my mom’s formidable shadow. It feels like if she or anyone else has hers, I can’t have mine. Through friends of Zenon, I sometimes find validation for this. A man gave a speech describing my mom before Saturday’s show. Everyone who has met Linda knows her for her red lipstick and “unshrinking gaze,” he said. Yes, I thought, I grew up under that gaze. I know it well. That was the gaze that met me after every Zenon show and asked me what I thought about the pieces. I would hold myself to the question as if I was giving a speech, or answering an important test question in school. Looking back, I’m not sure that that was worth so much of my energy.

Still, something underlying was fueling it. Similar to how, hidden beneath all of the noise that my thoughts were generating in the audience and thereafter, was a really loud silence, feeding it all. It was the silence of not having told anyone that I didn’t want to – couldn’t, wouldn’t – come to Minneapolis because it was my abortion anniversary weekend. This is a familiar silencing of myself, especially when it comes to my deepest experiences.

***

Driving up, somewhere in Kentucky, I considered making a different choice. I considered, in a last-minute effort, not going. I thought of visiting North Carolina instead, without a plan.

Still driving north, though, I again made the decision to not choose what my body and my heart so viscerally wanted. And I went, despite myself.

It was the same choice I made three years ago.

And I’m still working to figure out why.


Creation. Creating. Create.

Welcome to Hear Me Roar: Post-Abortion Press. Series: On the founding.

Right now, that is all that is driving me. The need to create. And it is not unrelated to my abortion experience. In fact, it was born there. It’s an unwieldy energy, that I’m unsure exactly how to direct. Known to short-out, stutter and spark if I don’t do something with it early in the day. A current that can run through my legs and out of my toes; or that can get trapped inside and create a measurable heaviness that I can’t explain. And it does all types of other things, too.

The obvious thing to explore is the idea that I am converting reproductive energy into art. But I don’t know you well enough yet to dig in there. Instead, there is something in the etymology of the word “create” that is of importance to me. Creation, the morphology of the word create, is decidedly a Christian, birth experience word. It is masculine, the action of the creator. But really, when looked at closely, intimately, and outside of our current societal context, creation is a feminine action. Creation is life and death. And it always has to be both.

Creating, as a word, is neutral. I can be creating something at any given moment and before I know what it is, it is merely a productive and perhaps well-considered word. I’m remembering where I first started developing all of my thoughts about the urge to create, and the importance of creating as an expression of something feminine (not necessarily female, but a rooted, feminine energy), and I believe it was in a blog that I was reading – maybe written by someone facing infertility. The idea also blends together with my being a yoga teacher, who substituted her nine-month teacher training classes for children she couldn’t have. My associations and memories around this word and its form are dream-like. I can’t and won’t be able to explain them, and you might as well get used to contradiction. In the world of reproduction; in the world of abortion.

I also think of an artist who I met when I lived in California, who ran Saturday classes for freedom of expression. We connected briefly about having had abortion experiences. On the one hand, we both acknowledged the idea that we need to “do” – do something – after having done that, gone through that, to make it worth it, to make it make sense. This is production oriented; it is masculinist, patriarchal and capitalist; and it is oppressive. It covers up pain in accomplishment and doesn’t allow us to be part of the web of life – women who create and who destroy. However, we also acknowledged, silently, that we were still creating. That this energy had never stopped. That in fact we had not interrupted it, but redirected it, and the current, the stream was always there for us to tap into again. That this is why we met there on a Saturday.

The universe is quite forgiving. Although we cannot go back, it allows us to re-join.