Love Shack

My first apartment Lisa and I named the Love Shack. I had the best times there as well as my worst times. It was a garden apartment in Evergreen Park. It was close to my friends and it was a good size. I moved in only months after moving from home. Soon after moving in I ran into a girlfriend I grew up down the block from at Walgreen’s. We renewed our friendship and I was always over at her place. She had had a baby and was getting married to her fiancé. Her fiancé was a police officer who worked with her father on the Oak Lawn force. I went to their wedding and from that point on I spent a lot of time with them.

I was always helping out. Cheryl and Billy were great friends. I would stop by help out with the baby and have dinner and chat. They made me feel part of the family. I helped when they got their first home. I helped peel wallpaper, paint, or whatever was necessary. I enjoyed being a part of their lives. They came from backgrounds just as dysfunctional as mine. I remember once Cheryl ran into another former neighbor of ours. Rose asked about me and Cheryl told her I was well and we saw each other often. Rose asked how I liked Berwyn. Cheryl said she lives in Evergreen Park. My mother had told Rose, that I lived with my father. Well my mother tried to save face as best she knew. I felt even more sympathy for my mother and her lies. This was only the start. My friends would run into her and she would lie to them as well. I can only imagine her pain.

Billy gave tattoos in his spare time. He gave me mine. I was one of his early works. He was very talented. I took my time deciding what I wanted. I finally chose a dolphin. I named her Delilah and she is lavender and the sea around her is turquoise.

The lowest point in my life found me fighting for Anthony’s attention. I was in serious counseling. I thought I had made the break, I was dating a guy a worked with but it ended. Then I really fucked myself. I decided to go off the pill. On Sweetest Day 1991 I got pregnant. I was a lost soul. I went to a friend’s annual Halloween party with my friend Jenni. We dressed as presents, we were wearing big wrapped boxes and we had bows on our heads. The next morning I knew I was pregnant, I just knew. I took three tests and called Cheryl. She said maybe I made a mistake and to come over and she would read the next test I took.

Anthony refused to believe me. I was gaining weight at a ridiculous rate. I went to the doctor to review my options. Cheryl and Billy were looking for a house and they told me if I wanted they would look for a house with a basement so the baby and I could have our own area. Cheryl offered to baby-sit while I worked and we would be a big family. It was very appealing and I knew I had a serious decision to make alone.

At Thanksgiving I still had not made a decision. I remember I went to breakfast with my Aunt Lynnette and cousin Ellie. I told them and they were stunned. I told them I had not made any decision. I was still in therapy, and upon my therapists advice I bought “Our Bodies, Our Selves”. I looked at every option. In the end, I decided terminate the pregnancy. It was the hardest decision of my life. Once I had made the decision I really had no self worth.

I had started meeting guys at bars. I seeing one guy in particular and I told him just do not hurt me. Hurt me emotionally. He was a dork and I do not even remember his name. I still am haunted by the guilt. During this time Anthony’s brother Devlyn threatened to beat me up. He is five years older than I am and a freak. My Thanksgiving present to him was having him arrested. December 9, 1991 I had the abortion. Anthony said he would meet me at my apartment and go with my aunt and me. Well surprise, surprise he never showed up. My aunt had never been to my apartment. When she arrived she commented “I must be waiting for prince charming”. My apartment had black and white pictures of couples on all the walls. I remember telling my aunt he said he would be here I know he will be coming. I tried not to cry but I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. She said we really had to go or we were going to be late. I got to the clinic I had enough money for a local anesthetic. I could not afford the twilight anesthesia. My aunt paid for the balance. I am still grateful for that to this day. I did eventually pay her back.

I remember being in the waiting room in my gown and there was this girl who was like sixteen or something and she said it was her second visit to the clinic. It freaked me out. When I was in the waiting room I remember it was a whole diverse crowd. All of us were there for the same thing. So it was not like you had to be ashamed. I went into the operating room, and it was like so normal. I was having a conversation with the doctor and nurses and the next thing I remember is waking up in the recovery room. I kept trying to get up. The nurse kept trying to make me lie down. I went to the bathroom. The nurse said I should expect some blood. I went into the bathroom and I thought I was going to pass out. I expected the blood from my period not bright red blood. I was freaked out. I was devastated. Lisa spent the night with me. I even called Anthony and told him I did not go to the clinic because he did not show up. The major depression hit that week. A so called friend called me at work and said, “how are you mom?” because she did not think I would make that choice. I was crushed. I had to go to the restroom and cry.

I had been dating someone that I had met at the Halloween party he was very nice and I had known him from Junior College. He did not stick around long after I found out I was pregnant and I shared that with him. He then conveniently disappeared.

I went through a period in my life I call blacker than black. I was out every night drinking. I came home hammered and I was not sober by the time I had to leave for work. I went home with strange men. I cannot even believe that I looked at some of them twice. I had absolutely no self-respect left. I felt I had left it all at that clinic with my baby. I even ran into Anthony one night out with my friends, he ignored me. One night Jonah came over. I told him I was going out. He said I have heard about all of your escapades and they need to stop. The sex and the liquor need to stop now. I said something flip I am sure. He lifted me off the ground by my shoulder’s shook me and said you know what you had better snap out of it. I snapped out of it. I had never seen Jonah mad at me until that moment. I stopped drinking like that as soon as he put me on the ground. I am forever grateful to him for that moment in time.

I went to California on vacation to visit a girlfriend and get over my loss. Renata had paid for everything but the ticket. She was so wonderful and it was a boost that I needed, when I needed it. When I returned, I came home to the news that Lisa’s father had passed. This was the family that had taken me in when I was tossed aside by my own family. Then Anthony appeared at the door. He told me he had seen Cheryl at a bar and she told him the truth. He was sorry he was not there for me and he was there now. He said we could make more babies. All I could think of was that Doritos commercial with Jay Leno. The one where Jay says “Its okay we’ll make more”.

I was so hurt. The song that was on the top of the charts at the time was Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven”. It always hit me in the heart. I was lost for a long time. I tried for years to make up for the lost child. I know it could never have been possible but guilt is a strong feeling. Lisa and her family were the greatest gift God bestowed upon me. Now that her life was in turmoil I could not pull it together. I felt terrible that I could not be more supportive. I was a mess on my own. I could not pull it together. I was so sad and guilty.

I was a mess financially emotionally and mentally. I was a lost cause. I really did not know how to deal with all of the loss in my life. I forgot to look at the positive. Anthony was still in my life and I could not break the chain.I felt as if we could work it out the loss of my baby and my family would not be in vain. It was a great rationalization but it could never hold water in the real world.

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