Speaker's Age: 25
Story Told In: 2005
21

It happened while I was in South Africa at an artist residency in Cape Town. One of the guys I was living with, we got to be really good friends. He was from Cape Town. And there was this one night where we were both in the studio together really late and it turned into... well, being more than friends. When I told him I was pregnant he was excited and wanted to keep the baby.

I knew it was not a good situation given options in South Africa. He wanted to keep it but he doesn't have any family support and he doesn't have a whole lot of money. He's completely in the air and doesn't have solidity in his life. I think he was really afraid of losing me. Before this, he asked me to marry him and stay in South Africa. But there's just no way that would have happened.

My parents are pretty Christian, conservative and Republican. I knew my mother didn't know how she stood on abortion issues, but I had to call her. She was really amazing on the phone and really helpful. She wasn't telling me what to do-- she was helping me figure out what I wanted to do. My father focused on the issue of AIDS and the fact that I'd had unprotected sex with a black man from South Africa who grew up in a township. Maybe the issue would have been different if it had been an affluent white man. If I had decided to keep the child, it would have been a black baby and difficult for my mother's family to deal with. On the other hand, it maybe would have helped them understand things. But I wasn't going to have a child for the purpose of working out family issues.

I went to the clinic and there was only one female OBGYN in Cape Town. I saw her and she told me I needed to make the decision before it became too late. It was an awful couple of days. I locked myself in my room and cried and cried. There was something really important for me in the process of being sad and upset. It felt very different from other sadnesses because there was an urgency in the decision I had to make. For me, there's usually a feeling when I'm really sad that it's like a black hole, that it's like a freefall. I don't have anything to hold on to and I feel lost. But in this experience I didn't feel lost. There was something very sure in the moment. I was dealing with everything pretty much on my own. It was nice to know that I had this strength inside myself to work through something and to be OK.