I found this recently and decided to throw it up here. I think I wrote this in 2008, but I can’t really remember.
He sat on the oversized dusty blue couch, elbows resting on his knees. His gaze was fixed on his bare feet as his toes wrestled with one another. His head lay in his palms, heavy with thought. She paced in front of him creating impressions in the freshly vacuumed carpet. Back and forth, she moved like a metronome. Three minutes. The box said to wait three minutes. The tension in the room was palpable. It was almost as if they were situated underwater, every movement seemed to be slow and deliberate.
Life is composed of handfuls of short moments that can seem unrelated and insignificant. When we have our eyes closed, the memories play back behind our eyelids without any rhyme or reason. The little clips, like old home movies, blink by, seemingly unattached to one another. But every now and then, something stands out in our memory. We mentally press the pause button reflecting on that one moment, person, or experience that remains so significant, it defines who we are and shapes who we are to become. A brief event or conversation could create a new tributary and send our lives into an entirely new direction. The most significant shift in my life was the result of an experience that only lasted three minutes.
A small group of friends were winding down after a long, two-day binge of drinking, drugs and general young-adult destructive behavior. The couples paired off in their cars and drove home as the light of dawn was creeping through the tall apartment buildings. The remaining two people headed up the three flights of stairs to their dimly lit apartment to recharge. “We need to go grocery shopping, and if we don’t go now, you know we won’t go for days,” he called to her from his reclining position on that blue dusty couch. She was in the kitchen with her nose in the fridge; her eyes were squinting from the light.
“Yeah… There is nothing here to eat. I’ll get my keys.” She walked sleepily down the hall towards her bedroom. “You know,” she mumbled as she walked away, “We probably should pick up a pregnancy test.” She continued down the hall, not breaking her stride, and turned into her room.
He appeared in her doorway, alarmed at her suggestion. “What did you say?”
“It’s probably nothing. We’ve been partying a lot lately and with the all the late nights, I’m sure it’s just messing with my cycle. I’m just late, but it’s probably nothing,” she said in an attempt to reassure him.
On the way to the grocery store, they didn’t play any music on the radio. They didn’t speak. They tried to pretend that it was just another trip to Kroger, but inside they were both panicking. They went up and down aisle after aisle, in the deserted store. He placed the beer, the chips and ice cream in the grocery cart. She placed the pregnancy test in the small part of the cart where the children usually sit. They paid, then squeaked their cart out to the parking lot and went back home.
“You should go check now… Don’t you think it’s been three minutes?” This time, he was pacing and she was trying to keep herself busy putting the groceries away. She kicked herself for not setting a timer or even checking the clock. She put the melting ice cream in the freezer and then floated down the hallway. He assumed his position on the couch, bracing himself for whatever was about to happen.
“It hasn’t been enough time yet. We just need to wait a little longer,” she said. She hastily went to the kitchen and set the oven timer then scoured the room looking for something to put away, straighten, or adjust. There was nothing she could do except pace, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
Time seemed to stand still. She could hear her heart beating inside her ears, muffled only by the internal whispering dialogue in her head, “One line, you’re not pregnant. Two lines, you’re pregnant.” The beating in her ears and the whispering voices seemed to crescendo right as the timer beep-beep-beeped. She continued to hear it beep-beep-beep, chasing her as approached the bathroom light that crept into the hallway.
When she reached the door, she stopped to compose herself. The door creaked as she pushed, slowly swinging all the way open until it thumped quietly against the wall. The test was sitting on the counter’s edge, beckoning her.
There were two pink lines, like two tall, pink, slender arms reaching up to her, saying “Momma!” She was immediately thrilled, scared and excited as she practically ran down the hall to share the great news with her boyfriend. At the threshold, between the hallway and living room, she stopped. Slowly, his gaze went from his bare, fidgeting feet, up to where she stood. He saw her scared and awkward grin, so, masking his own fear, he grinned back at her.
Nearly six years ago, I was that reckless and selfish 19-year-old girl. Looking back, I realize the ironic parallel between conceiving my son, and re-conceiving myself. Getting pregnant saved my life in many ways. After that early morning experience, I cleaned up my life. I gave birth to a new me, long before I gave birth to my son. My life would never be the same again, and there would be no turning back, even if I had wanted to. Three minutes in that dimly lit apartment rerouted my entire existence. My life was no longer just about me, but about me and my unborn son. Taking that test was the catalyst that triggered the beginning of my new life, my permanent role as a mom.