In ninth grade, my friends and I got into a discussion about abortion. I was firm in my resolve: absolutely not.
Fast forward three years to the dorm of a private school. I walked into my room to see my roomate and (still) close friend and her sister sitting on the floor. There was a white stick in her hand. “I’m pregnant,” she said.
With an audible whoosh the stance of Absolutely Not flew right out the window.
Years later, I boldly stated that under no circumstance would I be changing my last name when I married. Nor would I give a child born out of wedlock the father’s last name. The child would bear my name, because ultimately, I would be the one responsible. I would not sacrifice my own identity for (scoff) a man.
Leila came before we were married, born and baptized with Steve’s last name.
The week after our wedding, I happily turned over my old license for a shiny new one bearing a different name.
It happens time and time again, doesn’t it? We make decisions, cast judgement and weeks or months or years later, we sit down to a big plate full of Humble Pie.
I try so, so hard not to judge people. A rude comment pops into my head and I check myself. I don’t know that person, I don’t know their story, I say. But it happens, nonetheless.
At the pool where I swim, there are a lot of old women. I see them on a semi-regular basis, we exchange hellos, changing side by side in the always-damp locker room. Once, I walked from the pool to the shower and saw an old, saggy, wrinkly woman showering. She had one breast, and a large awkward scar where the other had been.
Yesterday as I twisted and turned in front of the mirror to make sure everything was in place before leaving, I thought of her. I thought of how, one day, we’ll all be old and wrinkly and saggy and maybe we put too much emphasis on how we look today. Maybe that’s part of the innocence and arrogance of youth. And I wondered, when I am a very old woman, hopefully still healthy enough to make it to the pool each week, when I shower and young women with firm bodies look with fear at what they might become, will this all fly out the window, too?