Souvenirs: An Abecedarian EssayAbout No. 5, his name was Jackson.

Boyfriends are so much trouble; I prefer to keep track of men by their numbered order in my sexual history.

Condoms, Jackson and I used them, but one broke and I ended up at Planned Parenthood the next day for the morning-after pill; years later it’s available at any drug store. 

Don’t be silly; what else was I supposed to do, only 19 and away at college, thousands of miles away from my family and home on the Big Island?

Every time I put my feet in those stirrups, it seemed to be for some sex-related emergency, so I ran the ABCs in my head to distract myself from the fallout.  

Fatherhood was not something planned for, at least not by my father, who conceived me when he was only 19.

Growing up, good grades meant I was a good girl, so I deluded my father for a while, even graduated valedictorian of my class.

He said, “Book smart, not street smart. You don’t know how to read people.”

I knew he meant my choice of men, but he failed to realize he was my first prototype of a man to love.

Jackson didn’t go with me to the clinic, but said if I ended up pregnant we should keep it.

Kids should be planned for, not something to have by accident; that’s what I thought, so perhaps I lost my chance.

Losing my chance at having a baby is something I think a lot about these days, now that I’m 44.

Miscarried pregnancies–I’ve had several over the years–leave genetic remnants inside a woman’s body.

Now that factoid came from The New York Times, which must make it true; a phenomenon called fetal microchimerism, although the headline read, “Pregnancy Souvenir.”

Our local Planned Parenthood was situated among Christian conservatives in Colorado.

Pro-lifers protested outside; Jackson was a pro-lifer too, but I guess the morning-after pill didn’t count in his mind, or it didn’t count if he didn’t go with me.  

Question: could I have gotten pregnant that time with Jackson and carried the baby to term, but instead flushed the embryo out with a pill?

Rightly so, I let that chance of a baby go, then lost others along the way.

Somewhere in my womb, perhaps I carry a few souvenirs.

Tethered like an old string of Christmas lights, the bulbs long ago gone out.

Unrequited little ones.


We’ll never know for sure.

Xanadu, the idyllic place where I escape this failed baby-making, back to a time when my father still had a good opinion of me, as a girl who kept her legs closed.

You want a father to think well of you, even if he doesn’t think well of himself; my father once drank himself and his Jeep into a stone wall; he walked away from that accident with his third DUI; when I visited over winter break, he threw me out on Christmas Eve after I said he should quit drinking; I slept in a car borrowed from his driveway.

Zenith of this story: you can’t imagine how cold it gets in Waimea during the wee hours of Christmas; the winds come down a snow-capped Mauna Kea with an icy chill; reclined in the driver’s seat, arms wrapped around my own body, my fetal keepsakes never warmed.

Photo used under CC.