Community Advocacy and Support by and for Young Mothers

Finding Beauty by Christen

Finding Beauty
by Christen

I lay in bed with my heart pounding, sweat dripping, and an insomniac's restlessness traveling deep throughout my veins. The moon's glare probed into my bedroom, unexplainably accentuating my profound feelings of emptiness. Something stirred within me, and I had to find something, ANYTHING, to fill the emotional void.

As millions of kids across America indulged in their slumbering fantasies, I still laid awake. As so not to wake my dad in the next room, I slowly, calculatingly, mathematically opened the window and stood up on the ledge. I saw myself as fat bodied, wide footed model wannabe, a girl who wanted someone to love her because God knows she didn't. I was one of those annoying pieces of gristle in a hamburger, or a trash can that just keeps overflowing because everyone is too lazy to take it out.

I slowly inched my way down and out the window. Due to my lack of upper body strength (I never could do one of those damn pull-ups), I fell crashing into the rocks below. It made an enormous sound that pulsated throughout the oppressive silence of the normal sleeping population. Paranoid, I ran to the nearby chain link fence and hurled myself over it like a wild animal.

Freedom! I was a restless spirit and a lost soul, searching for answers. The city lights below beckoned me with their dancing, sinful colors, provoking thoughts of mischievous possibilities. Darkness ruled now, when the earth turned it's back to the sun. I dwelled in these hours without the safeguard of that sun, like a tightrope walker without a net. I traveled down the road in silence except for the steps of my black boots hitting the ground and the occasional car that passed by. I felt like an ordinary body amongst millions of others occupying this over populated planet. Against the headlights I walked, like so many other times at night, searching for weapons to create more wounds to my soul.

I wasn't really sure what to do. I found myself walking up the steps of Mark's apartment, an acquaintance I had met while asking him for a ride home. We talked a little as he laid white powder on the coffee table. Treating it like a delicacy, he formed lines that stretched long and wide like a lonely street. I leaned down to the coffee table, careful not to expose the cuts and burns under my sleeve. I took comfort in the fact that they still hurt. The physical pain distracted me from the overwhelming emotions swirling around inside of me, with the unstoppable force of a tornado.

Together we finished them off, with the sting of it burning my nose and that awful taste still lingering in my throat. I transformed, my heart now coated with a protective layer of medicine. It beat faster and faster, pounding through my chest. My eyes turned black as the pupils covered the irises like the moon eclipsing the sun. They darted and searched, crying dry tears. That is how I lived then. Drug after drug, I tried to escape myself, finding mere strangers in the night to run with. I left his apartment as he took off to the bar. I couldn't go home. In wanted someone to love me, cherish me, and protect me. Little did I know that person needed to be me.

I saw a black silhouette in front of the headlights of the cars. As the person approached I stopped and asked him for a cigarette. When he came closer I recognized his face and realized I had seen him a couple times before. He had skateboarded with my brother a few times back. He had incredible eyes that were brilliant with green hue and framed by dark lashes and brows. He was tall, with dark hair. I was instantly attracted to him.

He would change my life forever.

I asked him if he wanted to walk with me, because I was lonely and had nothing to do, and he was happy to. We walked all night, talking about everything. I had never gotten so intimate with someone in my conversations before. He was so kind and respectful, and I felt safe with him by my side. I reveled in the things he had to say and thought he was exceptionally smart. I found out we lived in the same mobile home park.

When we walked back home and ended up in front of the park, I was torn with conflicting feelings. How could I go home after sneaking out and then coming back in the state I was in? But how could I go back to the cold, lonely streets? I mustered up the strength to ask,

"Do you think I could stay at your house tonight? It's just that I can't go home."

"Sure you can," he said without hesitation, "come on."

I was surprised he said yes! I thought he would think I was a psycho. We started walking to his house when I wondered what I was doing. I had practically just met him, and already I was asking to stay the night? Pretty bold tonight, huh Christen? But that thought was quickly erased when I thought of either going home, going back on the streets, and of how much I liked him.

We passed through his yard covered with vines and then made our way through the front door and into the dark hallway to his room. I felt my way around in the dark, smelling the aroma of incense and put my backpack down on the floor. Warmth wrapped around my body and suddenly felt safe instead of vulnerable. I hesitated for a minute upon entering his room, wondering what I should do. I lay down on the floor while he got in his bed.

There was no way I was going to sleep. We talked a little and then there was a long silence. Out of no where he took my arm and pulled me up. I knelt beside the bed, the moon shining down on us through his window. We looked like porcelain statues in the silvery light.

"You're beautiful," he whispered.

His words shot straight and true like an arrow to my heart. I NEVER thought he would say something like that. Tears silently burst out of my eyes and streamed down my face with no control. I hoped he wouldn't see them in the darkness. I turned my head.

But he noticed.

He took my arm and pulled me up to the bed. Why did I feel so close to him already, yet so scared at the same time? Why was I so incredibly vulnerable to his words?

He went to the radio and turned some oldies on softly, then came and lay down, putting my head on his shoulder. We just lay there silently listening to the music; feeling a powerful force beyond our control pulling us together.

After a while he fell asleep and I saw the horizon turning gray with dawn as the sun came back to visit me. I didn't curse it this time, but welcomed it's presence with open arms. I felt like a new person, alive with love, or infatuation. Whatever it was, it made me feel happy and bursting with life.

We continued to see each other and started going out. I was googly eyed, Juliet Capulet, love poem, roses and candy in love. I felt fast and hard, without restraint.

I had to move to Sacramento, but we were still together long distance and saw each other on the weekends. I based my life around him, blocking most other people out completely . We had sex without protection a couple times, thinking that if he pulled out it would be enough. My period was always on time and in synchronization with the full moon each month. But that time, it wasn't. I took a pregnancy test and discovered two pink lines that would permanently alter the course of my life.

I felt very isolated at school and stopped talking to people altogether. A lot of students there were very stuck up because it was an "exclusive charter school for the arts" and people came from as far as a hundred miles to go there, sent by rich parents hoping their kid would grow up and be an artist. I went there on a last minute decision because the public schools in Sacramento had been deteriorating. There were only about thirty kids in my junior class. Maybe some people noticed me pouring over a pregnancy book hidden within my textbook, because one day some kids started making fun of this girl who wasn't pregnant.

"Hey Jen, you are pregnant? When's the baby due?"

"Shut up you guys!" she replied. "God, as if I would be pregnant."

This only made me want to disappear and heightened my feelings of being an outcast. It also didn't help seeing the billboards of teens in dramatic black and white lighting with messed up hair and a screaming baby in their arms. In big red letters, one sign pointed a finger at the tiny embryo inside of me and shouted angrily, "IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT WITH YOUR LIFE? THINK FIRST." I thought that since society hated pregnant teens, everyone who I told would hate me as well.

I couldn't bring myself to tell my mom. I knew I would have to get to a doctor soon, and the sharp pains that I didn't know were normal in the first trimester were making me paranoid. I called a hotline and told them that I needed help. They took down my name, and said they would call back. They never could get a hold of me, so they sent someone to my school.

I walked into the office, wondering why I was called in, when the office lady pointed to a room and told me to go inside. A lady was sitting in the chair looking at some paperwork when she saw me and looked up.

"Hi you must be Christen," she said, "I'm from the pregnancy center."

She shocked me and I looked around, wondering if anyone had heard her. This was getting to be like an episode of Get Smart.

"Don't worry," she said, "everything is confidential. No one knows why I am here."

Secretly, we talked about what I needed to do, and she told me that she had gotten pregnant young. A wave of comfort came over me, and for a second I did not feel so alone and like the sinful person society was trying to convince me I was. It was after our meeting that I decided I had to tell my mom. Like the baby inside of me, the secret was growing. I couldn't hide it much longer.

When I got home my mom asked me to go out to dinner with her. I took that as the perfect time to tell her. But when our food came and the time came around to it, I couldn't get the words out. They were risky and attached with an uncertain reaction at the end.

"I know you're pregnant," she said finally.

"How do you know?" I asked in total surprise.

"You left the pregnancy hotline number on my bed."

So much for the Get Smart approach.

Surprisingly, she was not angry. Maybe because of how wild I was before, she was now prepared for anything. I don't know. But after it sunk in and a couple months passed, she was excited to be a grandmother and happy that I was having a baby. She worried that I wouldn't be able to go to college. I told her with conviction that I could.

I started throwing up all the time, even at school. A couple times I had to run out of class before I puked on an unsuspecting victim. I was paranoid about chemicals, and the slightest smells set my nausea off. If I hadn't told my mom, she would have found out anyway because when I was riding in her car, I had to roll down the window and do my thing. She slowed her driving to a crawl, and I leaned over the side and hurled chunks everywhere. It dripped all over the side of her shiny red Camaro. I looked up and saw two men standing on the side of the street, staring at the scene with disbelief.

"PREGNANT!" My mom yelled in explanation.

We drove off, leaving the trail of orange muck behind.

When the school year ended, I was four months pregnant and moved up to Reno to be with David. That summer my belly grew more and more. I thought I looked beautiful, and had never felt more feminine in my life. I had a life growing inside me, what is more beautiful than that? It was an amazing feeling her kick inside me. I wondered how she felt, and what she was thinking. I even talked to her in my head. I would lie down at night on the floor with David and we would put our hands on my belly and feel her kick. I knew it was a girl, even though David said it was a boy. I was falling in love with the mysterious baby inside of me.