I've been holding on to this one for a long time - I haven't been sure that it was something I felt safe discussing. But we are all going to need to take more risks, now and in the future, so I'm going to lay myself bare.
A long time ago, I had a miscarriage.
I was young and I was stupid and I skipped a couple pills, and I didn't know what had happened until it was over. The experience was traumatic - it was immediately very clear what was going on - and in my own, typical, make-it-look-good fashion, I disposed of the evidence, washed the sheets, and moved on with my life.
I think a lot about that moment, and I think about what I would have done if I had been more aware. I can tell you, right now and without a doubt, I would have gotten an abortion, and I would have done it with a great sigh of relief. I would have made an appointment - an investment in my future - and kept it, and I would have had the exact same life I have now.
Nothing would have changed - though maybe I would feel a sense of pride in making a necessary decision.
I used to be so ashamed of that moment - though now I don't really know why. I wrote stories about it in my intermediate fiction classes, and I cried about it at two in the morning after too many martinis, and in none of that did I think that I had ever, actually wanted a baby. My childless life has always been a blessing. I had to dispense with the gendered baggage first - had to go against what all women are taught, that being a mother is the best work we could ever do - but saying out loud that I don't want kids feels incredible.
And I think about me, a long time ago, and all the things which were going to happen in my future. I think about academic achievements, and making friends, and having the time to make mango-curry truffles at midnight; I think about my sobriety, about not continuing cycles, about changing careers. I think about all the hours I spend with my husband, how we are both big kids who like to watch Star Trek and debate the meaning of the universe and get on an airplane whenever we want.
I think about me, a long time ago, and I think about how utterly necessary an abortion would have been, and I think, dear God, every woman should have that choice.
Our futures are sacred, and they are a right, and these are our choices and no one else's.
I've read the news - Kennedy resigning, Roe at risk, the world breaking into jagged pieces - and I'm sitting here in my writing chair, and I'm thinking about what could happen. I'm thinking of myself, of novels unwritten, of a high-risk pregnancy, of death - and I'm thinking about other women, their futures, their hopes. Women who don't want children, or who do but not yet; women who wanted this baby, for whom things have gone horribly wrong; women who make a choice to share joy and pleasure and other women who survive violence.
I'm thinking about our grandmothers, our great grandmothers, all the women dead in childbirth or bound by biology and love and marital obligation and no other choices.
Women marginalized. Women desperate.
What came out of me was not a life, and even if it had for a few moments held the seeds of life, that life was not more important than my own. I matter - all women matter. We are not incubators, and our pleasure is no sin. We know that if forced-birthers truly cared about stopping abortion, they'd hand out birth control on every street corner. They'd end rape culture. They'd vote for universal healthcare. They would be liberal.
But they'd rather see us punished - and in that they reveal themselves, because, of course, they see a child as punishment. They call a potential life sacred, and then use children as manacles to imprison, to bind. They have no real love in their hearts - not for those children, and certainly not for any woman.
I don't know our way forward - I really don't know what to do. Maybe this will make the rest of us wake up and say, no more, even though atrocities are already being committed and our eyes should be wide open and God, I hope it's not too late. Maybe we'll have to protest; maybe we'll have to riot.
It comes back to me, sometimes, that moment when I was young. A few skipped pills - because I was careless the way young people are, immortal in my own mind, thrilling at freedom - and there was a whole future there, a future unspooled, words unwritten, friends unmade, a body burdened, a spirit subdued. Events played out and I didn't have to make the choice.
But I would have. And I would have been damned proud.
No woman should be denied her future. The road is uncertain and the days are dark, but I will not yield in this. I will not give up.