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Virginia Lore

6000 17th Ave SW #3

Seattle, WA 98106
(206) 764-8890
@ 1,039 Words
c. September 12, 2001
submitted September 13, 2001
All Rights currently retained by author

Part of the Family

That winter, mornings were particularly cold. I’d wake reluctant, stumble to the kitchen to make some
coffee, and get distracted. I’d stare into the freezer for long moments, imagining what I’d be doing
differently if I were still pregnant. But instead of feeling movement in my abdomen, I felt emptiness. I’d
measure the coffee into the filter and turn the pot on, forgetting to pour water into it. Often I’d stumble
around the apartment all day, still in my nightgown, avoiding my roommates.

In August I had gone for the ultrasound alone. I’d joked with the technician about all the desserts I could
eat now that I was expecting. She had called the doctor in to confirm what it was she saw on screen. The
baby had no heartbeat. I would need a d & c to remove the fetus from my body. My parents flew in for the
surgery and left soon after, and I started my senior year of college.

It was a miserable wet Olympia rainforest fall. I dropped all my classes in favor of an independent study
and I quit my three jobs. Though I was supposed to graduate in the spring I had no idea what to do with my
life, or even where I would live. I had made all my plans for the year with a February due date in mind. I
had lined up resources and prepared for life as a single mother. Now I had nothing. I applied for an
assistant manager job at Subway sandwiches and never heard back from them. Even fast food didn’t want
me, I told myself. I belonged nowhere.

I found relief from the pain in Heend, a small experimental band which played improvisational rock and
jazz fusion. Terry played bass. Adrian played the homemade drum kit, complete with baking pans, beer
bottle tops, and a Rubbermaid trash bin. Andrew played everything else: guitar, trumpet, pvc pipe, and
any object handed to him by his fans. They took any request as a challenge. When asked to play in 13/7
time, they wrote a song called “prime” and brought it back to the next show. The shows were great theater,
but the loneliness and misery always crept back.

Tina was Andrew’s girlfriend. She was small and seemed much younger than I. Though she was perfectly
friendly, I dismissed her almost immediately. We chattered about things, but I thought of her as a groupie.
I wasn’t a groupie. I was a fan, there only for the music. The only problem at the shows was my ex-
boyfriend, who also showed up once in awhile. Every time I saw him, waves of pain knocked me over.
We sat as far apart from each other as we could get, and we tried to be civil. Eventually we came to kind of
an understanding. He attended the shows in town and I went to the shows on campus.

One night that winter I was particularly depressed. I had just spent the Christmas holidays alone on
campus. I walked the path to the student center, considering my options. The internship I had lined up for
that quarter had fallen through. Although I decided I’d move to Seattle after graduation, I had no idea how
I would get there or what I would do. The magic 8 ball on my desk became my only advisor. Should I
consider a career as a zookeeper? Outlook doubtful. The outlook was always doubtful. Water dripped
from the trees down the back of my neck and I heard music coming toward me out of the fog. Of course.
Heend was playing on campus tonight. I could forget about all this crap for awhile.

I found a place in the back, but the music drew me forward. There he was, to the left, my ex-boyfriend. I
hadn’t seen him for over a month, but seeing him brought it all back: the grief, the anger, the whole mess
of our relationship, the deep sense of shame I carried for all of it. As I left the building, I was desperate to
stop the pain.
I heard footsteps behind me. It was Tina, running after me.

“Virginia, what’s wrong?” she asked. Her hand felt warm through my sleeve. It was the first time any one
had touched me since the nurse had put the warm blanket on me after the d & c.

“This is my turf,” I told her. “He doesn’t belong here.” I felt the familiar prickling behind my eyelids and
swallowed to stop from crying. I couldn’t even go to shows on campus, I said. I can’t remember what else
I told her. Maybe everything. I had months of misery stored up to share. I don’t know how long we were
out there. We stood under the trees in the darkness as they dripped from an earlier rain. It was wet, and it
was cold. I could see her breath in a cloud when she said, “Come back.”

“You’re part of the family,” Tina said. “You belong with us.”

It was a small, warm thing from one woman to another in a time of wretchedness, and it felt true. I was
part of the family. Suddenly, I belonged somewhere. Something inside me clicked into place—something
subtle. In that moment, Tina and I became real friends. In that moment I knew I would have other friends.
There were people out there somewhere who were my people. It would all be okay.

Last September, Tina and Andrew held a picnic in Olympia for family and a few close friends. Kevin and I
went with our nine-month-old daughter Penelope. As we drove back to Seattle I counted my blessings.

I belong in so many places and I love so many people. I have a wonderful partner and a healthy, active
daughter. I have meaningful work as a stay-at-home mother. I live in an intentional neighborhood and
have many close friendships.

I talk to Tina almost every week. I call her one of my angels because she is a source of inspiration, comfort
and wisdom often when I most need it. And because it was Tina who reminded me: I’m part of the family.
We’re all part of the family.


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