Friday, May 6, 2011

Hard To Swallow

A lot has happened since January, but today is a very rough day for me and I think there is some healing to be had in writing.

As soon as I returned from my visit with my boyfriend in New York, my mom let me in on a plan that had just been forming for the last 1 or 2 days. We knew we weren't going to be able to stay in our house for much longer because of a many stagnant situation. Everyone used to live down here with us, but now we were the minority who still hadn't moved to central Florida or higher. Jobs were far and few which is why I was working in fast food and why my mom was more often unemployed than employed. The only really stable thing about where we were was that my sister was still finishing her senior year of high school. Other than that, we were all ready to move somewhere new. My mom thought it would be a good idea for just me and her to move to Orlando first, and have my sister and stepdad join us after graduation.

I had to skip a semester of school and it took a few months more than we planned, but in mid-March we were in our new house in Orlando. My best friend Autumn lived no more than 10 minutes from me now and with no job or school, I had all the time in the world to hang out with her.
A month later my sister and stepdad visited and brought our two dogs up with them to start living at the new house. I was going through the enrolling process at the nearby junior college and job hunting, and everything was looking better and better.

At some earlier point in April, my stepdad drove up to spend the weekend here, and left my sister at home to watch the dogs. I found out through Autumn that a big party was thrown at my old house that weekend and that it had some very bad people at it who were pulling out knives, doing drugs in my old bedroom, and having sex in my parents' bed. My sister also apparently felt the whole thing backfire on her and learned the true colors of some people she had considered friends, but all of that aside, she was in huge trouble. She was supposed to be grounded until the end of April, I guess, but she was going out with friends again in less time than that because it was understood that she legitamately was sorry and had no bad friends anymore.

The only hiccup between then and now was that she took her senior trip to Universal Studios and lost her cell phone and had an awful time. Other than that, smooth sailing.

Oh, except for yesterday when my mom woke me up early in the morning to tell me that my sister was (save for a conclusive test) about 2 months pregnant.

I wasn't particularly shocked at the concept, but the reality. I saw her with a growing belly, with a tiny newborn, with a toddler and struggling. I saw a baby in our new house. I saw my little sister giving our mom the first grandchild. I saw her coming back to her old self and growing up and having an anchor to responsibility. I saw my niece or nephew.
Then everything happened very swiftly. My dad (real dad) took a no-nonsense stance immediately and pressured my mom to push for my sister to choose abortion. "She's not going to have no future, this has to get taken care of now." My mom texted him back with tears in her eyes to remind him that it wasn't that easy and that this was their grandchild. It didn't sway him much and he offered to pay for the procedure. So did my mom's mom.
None of us had heard yet what my sister wanted to do about it.
I had never really talked to her about it hypothetically, and so I had no idea which way she would go. But I hoped she would want to keep it.

But I don't know what it's like to be 17 and dealing with that. Without even an hour of sitting on the fence, she decided she did not want it. The father didn't either. My mom and I decided to keep our mouths shut about how we felt because we didn't want her to make a choice she wasn't satisfied with for the rest of her life. My mom was afraid that if we made her keep it, she would always resent it and it wouldn't get the love it needed from her.

She didn't ask for advice, and she didn't flip-flop on it. She just did not want it and was "trying not to even think about it".

I'm sad for her situation. She's young. The guy was never her boyfriend. She's not particulary mature and I didn't truly expect her to want to keep it, but I just hoped she would. I don't know if she's as collected inside as she is on the surface right now. It would really bother me if she was, actually.

My mom has already driven home and the appointment for the procedure has been set for tomorrow morning. I'm terribly sad and I wish there was something I could do to change her mind. This little baby is growing and living right now and I have to squash it down already as something that will never be. It's just nearly gone, but I know that at this moment it is here. I've been crying all morning.Will my sister ever know how I cried for her? Will she ever ask me if I wanted her to get rid of it like our dad did? Will she just assume that I was on his side? Or will she know that I saw a baby I was ready to open my heart for and love forever?
My mom heard me choke when she told me that they set the appointment. "This wouldn't work. It's just a bad situation. She's so young and she doesn't want it and you know how she is. We know how she is. And you know she does whatever drugs, who knows if it would even come out okay? This wouldn't work, there's nothing we can do. It's gonna be okay."

Everything is against the baby, she's right about that. The parents don't want it. There is no money to raise it. My sister is leaps and bounds from being ready for a baby in every way you could think of.
It will hurt less someday, but every now and then when I shed a few tears for my Papa, the only close family I've ever seen pass, I will think of my sister's baby too. I'm not religious at all, but I do imagine that my Papa knows when I am crying for him, watching me from some kind of Heaven. Maybe he'll keep this baby by him when I cry. I'll never know if it's for the better because it's not like we wouldn't have made this work if she did want to have her baby. It just tears me up inside and I don't think I can ever tell her. By the time I'd be ready, we would be grown women, and I would be digging up a touchy subject. So I'll probably keep it inside forever, and years from now if no one else is crying for this baby's memory, I will be. Now more than ever I see that it is the people you love the most who hurt you the worst.

- Erica

Sunday, January 9, 2011

In Limbo

Everything was supposed to happen once I finished high school.

I've been in community college and working in minimum wage food service for the past 5 months, still living at home. I don't know what I expected this in-between time to be like, but somehow I am still surprised.

I have always imagined my life in 3 parts: School - In-Between - Dream Fulfillment.

Ever since I was able to conceive that cartoon shows are made by people, I have wanted to make my own. I've been drawing for my entire life and I don't intend to be the person who lets her dreams slip by as life sets in. It is the one constant and the one dream I have always leaned upon. A few years ago I met a wonderful boy who does what I do and dreams what I dream. In some ways this makes it easier. I have a built-in support system and a partner who absolutely understands my passions.

All through high school I dreamed of escaping and "finally starting my life". I waved off the 'in-between time' and skipped right to moving in with my boyfriend and launching into the animation industry together.

The last year has been a minefield of plans that are so up in the air they have no hope of being executed. Senior year forced me to pull together some sort of unmotivated college plan. I can't think of a thing to go to college for. I'm too poor for art school. Hell, I'm too poor for a 4-year university, but at least that is realistic enough for my mother to allow it.

Let's pause and get some basics straight:

  • I'm a cartoonist
  • My long-distance boyfriend is a cartoonist
  • My mother is overbearing

I've always known that college had to fit into my cartoony plans somewhere because that is what my mother expects of me. I never had to confront the puzzle pieces until it was time to apply for college. To be honest, senior year came and went with me not knowing how to drive yet or being employed. Moving anywhere was not an option. And I'm not dumb when it comes to school, but I am lazy. Scholarships of any nature other than financial aid were not popping up in my favor.

Let me try to recall some plans as the year progressed..

I wanted to go to VFS in Canada.

I wanted to go to SVA in New York.

I wanted to go to any college in New York so that I could be with my boyfriend.

I wanted to go to a college near Portland, Oregon because I think it would be neat.

I wanted to convince my boyfriend to get an old hippie van, drive down to Florida to get me, and keep going until we hit California so that we may be free livin' nomads.
"To avoid parking fees, I'll drive while you sleep. We'll never, ever stop!"

Then I really sat down and said to myself "This is not going to be fun. Pick something in-state and cope." Around the same time I was visiting family in Orlando and friends on the campus of UCF. Something about it sparked my interest and my mother was very excited to hear it. We planned on UCF.

My application was deferred in November. Many of my peers' were as well, and some were flat-out rejected. I was hopeful. As the year marched on, people in my boat were rejected in large numbers and accepted in small. I made totally awesome plans to be roomies with my friend Victoria and live on-campus. She was accepted and I checked the UCF website every single day, if only to stop prefacing every conversation with "If I get into UCF and we're roommates..."

They had me waiting from November to April. My status never changed to rejected or accepted. I was deferred for five fucking months while everyone else at least got a goddamned yay or nay. And then one day in April my status had changed to rejected. Just like the wind blowing out a candle I had kept lit for the last five months.

With about a month left in high school, I put my shit in reverse and applied to Valencia Community College and got accepted right away. I planned to move into an apartment with my best friend Autumn, which had actually been our plan since 5th grade. The lining could not have been more silver on this cloud. We talked about how we would decorate and what sort of groceries we would stock the fridge with, and how often we would chill out with some good TV and a bong.

The plan may have been feasible, except you may remember reading earlier on that I did not yet drive or work. I had no money saved up and no car. Somehow though, it was going to work. My plan was way more focused on moving out than it was on college, and my mom intercepted it.

Broken, I realized I was stuck going to the local community college that I had avoided. I could've chosen that back at the start of the school year and not gone through all of these bullshit ups and downs. And she helped me when I was applying to Valencia! "Why did you just let me do all of that if you were just going to say I had to stay home?!" Her response was that she was waiting to see how long it would take me to realize that I had no means to move out and live 3 hours away from home, and she needed to stop me now because she didn't have enough time or money to move me out and back in once I fucked up.

Come July my close friend Amanda took off for Washington, and August saw off Autumn. I cried, hard and alone. I had to work and go to school, but I still had to live at home, and my friends weren't even around to hang out with in the off time. And then I thought...

.. This is the in-between time.

- Erica