We've all had those moments.
The moment you miss that last step. The panic rises. For a second, you're not sure you'll ever hit the ground. You just keep falling because this can't happen to me. It's surreal, overwhelming. All of that packed into the red pill and then down the hatch.
I was 22 years old. I was still going to school, sleeping on the floor, staying up too late and wondering where I might work that summer. I was still a kid. We both were. And we were huddled in the corner of a shit hole house, the quiet night shattered by her sobs.
My roommates didn't say a thing. Not then or in the morning. Midnight arguments were not the norm but they weren't that unusual, either. They probably heard the door crash open, heard the wailing and went right back to sleep. Despite walls as thick as the paneling, they didn't understand much. Unless they caught that one word.
So now what?
This was unplanned, certainly. Not good timing, definitely. I was at a point where I wasn't 100% sure I could take care of myself. I was heading into depression. I had been for quite some time, just didn't have a label for it yet. I was frightened, confused, and aimless. School was about done and I had no idea what I wanted to do or why. Like many kids, that transition to adulthood can be long and winding. I was thoroughly lost.
So I lay in the blankets holding her, supporting her. Whatever my issues were at the moment, they took a backseat. It forced me to set them aside, stop focusing on myself and be there for her. In a way, it was a relief. I wasn't thinking of me and, as a result, stopped wandering around lost. I had a job to do.
It was grow up.
The storm eventually passed. Her violent sobbing settled. She was able to breathe. And then she told me. She had taken a pregnancy test because she was late and it turned out the price was right. But that wasn't the show stopper, the force that drove her across town in the middle of the night, the reason she was consolable.
I don't know if you're the father.
Bit of a left turn I didn't see coming. We weren't an exclusive couple. She had been with someone that month so there was a fork in the road. I was on one side and a guy named Steve was on the other. In the meantime, we had a big red pill to swallow.
After the words left her, the storm returned with all the guilt and shame and sorrow that one would expect. It was out there, she said it. It was real now. I wasn't angry, not even hurt. Maybe it was the depression that kept me from heading down that path, or that there was this person I loved in genuine, utter distress. Despite my feelings about it, I needed not to go that way and be right there. I could (and would) feel all the hurt and sorrow for myself at a later time, a tidy little mess I would eventually address many years later. But for now, there was this.
So we lay there. In the morning we'd figure out what to do. Two kids, barely in their twenties, with a baby eight months away.
Time to grow up.