Showering Solo

I was home.  It was time to get ready for my first baby shower.

It was June, and I was staring at the laundry basket full of the recently moved clothes, desk supplies and newly purchased maternity clothes, wondering which outfit I should wear.

I left Michigan State University six months pregnant.  In the final weeks of school, my pregnancy went from a mystery to an obvious state.  I never mustered the courage to call Joe and tell him that I wanted to talk to him, even though I did want to talk to him.  I just couldn’t bear the thought of the exasperated sound of his voice as we yet again fought about who would do what and when and why.   I still had his phone number at his mother’s; maybe one of these days now that I wasn’t going to classes or studying or working, I would finally get past my fears and reach out.

I was caught between utter shame at going out in public and possibly running into someone I knew and flat out defiance that anyone would dare to think less of me because I had gotten pregnant less than a year out of high school.  I was sure that everyone I knew was gossiping about my fall from grace; alternatively, my circle of friends became so fiercely loyal and supportive that I felt that those who weren’t were just not worth my time anyway.

The baby shower was being held in my friend Dean’s basement, cohosted by my friends Karen and Dean.  I took this as a good sign.  Dean and Joe were best friends; in fact, it was in Dean’s basement where Joe and I had shared our first kiss.  For Dean to support something this forward thinking and planful I took as a sign that Joe’s anger had softened.  Maybe he was accepting that the baby was possibly a good thing, or at least not a horrible thing.  I let my mind wander, just a second, to the thought that Joe might actually show up.  It was probably too much to hope for, but maybe, maybe it would happen.

I drove over and lumbered down his basement stairs, decorated in streamers and helium balloons.  I looked around at the pile of diaper bags and wrapped gifts and smiling faces.

I swallowed as I noted which face was missing, put a smile on my face, and pretended that I hadn’t even expected it in the first place.  This was happening, with or without him.

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