Segment 36: When a Third World Came West

Segment 36:

Beatrice was my mother’s business friend who was in a relationship with another woman named Beatrice also.  She had a daughter who I used to babysit from another marriage back in 1992 that dissolved because of a number of reasons.  And now here she was at Paneras drinking black coffee and tapping the empty cup that she’d drank the last of it out of, against the ends of the table.  I didn’t need her to lecture me, I already knew what she was here to say.  I’d answered her message that I’d gotten that morning driving back from the beach when I was busy throwing up all my breakfast into another old coffee cup.  Here I was drinking more coffee that I knew was bad for me and for the kid and listening to her the next afternoon.  She opened up to me about a time when this had happened to her, when she was married and she’d found out that she was pregnant, when it just wasn’t the right time.  She asked how it had been since I’d been back from college, living with my parents and she asked how I thought they’d felt living with me and everything else that had been going on.  And I knew what she was getting to, that I was difficult lately, obstinate, and that I’d really stirred the pot up a bit what with me not making a decision yet about this thing, and about me not going back to college yet.  I’d secured a job with a friend of mine around the corner and I was happy with that, but I still thought about college and I couldn’t think about my future within the context of me possibly having a baby soon.  So everything was up in the air.  I wanted it but I didn’t.  Living at home without Sam around the corner, even if he was on East Central at a homeless shelter, wasn’t easy either.  I’d sit at the dinner table with my parents not feeling like I had anything to bring up and feeling like nothing was really fun anymore, or exciting.

I’d taken up driving back and forth towards where Sam was because he was being held in an INS detention center since he was illegally here in the United States and since he hadn’t made any attempts to renew his visa.  It was two hours one way and I would load up on quarters from my mother’s bank, pay the meters for two more hours, lock up my purse, sweaters and other things in a locker, and ride up in the elevator to see Sam.  From where we sat separated by the glass divider, we could see Manatee County out of the porthole window behind him on the concrete wall.  I’d worn a yellow sundress once and Sam and I had talked about different names for the baby until we decided on Juliet for a girl and Julian for a boy.  I was happy.  After I’d leave him I’d drive around in my car until dark, listening to the Indigo Girls and sitting next to the beach so that I could stay feeling close by Sam and close by as a family.

Sam started to feel bad when he’d stay on the phone with me at nights, using other inmates’ calling cards to stay up and talk to me.  But I used to get night sweats and I’d get sick at night and I’d put him on hold while I ran to the bathroom to feel better and to get it all out.  I’d drove up once when he’d had his final hearing against the judge and he’d begged him to let him free so that he could take care of me because he’d said that I was sick and that I needed help.  But the judge didn’t budge and I think that the lawyer who thought I was lying about being pregnant smiled in the corner about how Sam didn’t bring any evidence or conviction to his side of the fence.

Eventually I gave in and my grandmother came down to help me with the aftermath.  I called Sam to tell him that I’d lost the baby and I was hysterical telling him that I’d never felt like this way in my life and that I didn’t know how to go on now, feeling the way I did.  I bled for days afterwards and I would sit in the shower and feel loss and guilt and would miss it.  I applied for a job at Kodak soon after on Vineland Road, they offered me a job taking photographs at the theme parks, and I went to an orientation.  Not even three weeks later I was snapping shots of families in front of Cinderella’s castle on Main Street in white pantaloons, a white beret, and a blue and white striped shirt.  Things had really turned around.


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