“Hello, Outside World! It’s Jill, coming to you live from inside my bedroom in an undisclosed location not far from Hotlanta, Georgia. I’ve interrupted your evening to let you know that I am going nutso!! Coo Coo for Cocoa Puffs! My Gram calls it “stir crazy” and promises I’ll be okay. I hope she’s right. Now, back to your regularly scheduled program.”
I’m soooo bored!! This is the first time in my entire 18 years on earth that I have nothing to do, nowhere to be. I’ve always been super busy, this feels weird. Just a few weeks ago, I had school, church, a volunteer job at the hospital, a paying gig as a tutor, Beta Club, student council. I guess I never realized how quickly life can change.
Harvard. It’s why I pushed myself so hard. I decided that’s to go there when I was like five. Harvard, med school, doctor. I’d tell every adult I met, just in case they could help. I made one slight modification after my Papa died of cancer; “doctor” became “oncologist”. Other than that, I never changed my mind.
Did you know that Harvard only has a 5% acceptance rate? I sure do, I heard it about a 1000 times. “You need to be aware, Miss Hill, that the odds aren’t in your favor.” (Before you ask, yes, my parents really did name me Jill Hill.) I was aware, but not discouraged. No, I don’t have a second choice because I’m not going to need one.
Think you’ve figured out where this is going? “A smart girl was Jill, but also a fool. No back-up plan, left without a school.” Logical assumption. But, not how it went down. So, how did I end up here? Living in Boredom Town, Bonkersville. Well, if you want to know what really happened, read on, my imaginary friends. I’m ready to tell my story. Why not? I’ve got nothin’ better to do.
I started dating Jack the summer before my freshman year. His family had just moved here and started going to our church. I’d never had a boyfriend, and I wasn’t looking for one. Jack and I were naturally drawn to each other; it was like we became a couple without even realizing it was happening – if that makes any sense. My best friend, Katie, called it fate. “Jack and Jill” – our names were a sign we were meant to be together.
Jack is an all-star baseball player. Our high school team is one of the best in the state, which was one of the reasons his parents chose their house. Jack believed playing for our coach would give him a better shot at making it to the majors – his lifelong ambition. Jack and I were both overachievers. We loved spending time together, but agreed to never let our relationship get in the way of our dreams.
Fast forward to senior year. By the end of first semester, Jack and I were both committed to a college. He was heading to the west coast on a baseball scholarship to USC. Me? I’d beat those odds! I was heading to Cambridge in the fall. Not only that, I’d been invited to participate in an elite summer study program abroad. First stop, Europe then on to the Ivy League. Ciao, Bitches!!
Jack and I would be on opposite sides of the country for at least the next four years. It didn’t make sense to try to hang on to our relationship. So, by Christmas, we’d decided on a concious uncoupling with the promise to always be friends. I’m not gonna pretend it didn’t hurt, we were together over 3 years. But, I was way too busy to sit around and mope. I had a future to prepare for. That’s what kept me going.
Senior year spring break is a big deal at our school. Everybody goes to Florida; first time away with no adults! Me, Katie and 2 other girls were staying at a house right on the beach. I couldn’t wait! I’d been looking forward to this week since 9th grade. It didn’t hit me until I started packing, I’d always imagined my spring break plans would include Jack. But, we barely even talked since moving into the friend zone. I still couldn’t help but wonder if we’d run into each other.
When we hit the road, I was psyched! This vaca was gonna be everything! And, it was. The week flew by. On our last night, we went to a party at house not far from ours. Jack and some of guys from his team were there. And, it wasn’t awkward. Everybody was just hanging out – having fun as a group. Maybe we’d be able to do this “just friends” thing after all.
I started getting tired around midnight. I was the one driving us home early the next morning and knew I needed some sleep. My friends wanted to stay, so Jack offered to walk me home and I accepted. Was it the full moon or the spiked punch? Not sure. All I know is an old spark was ignited during that stroll down the beach. And, Jack…spent the night.
Back in Georgia, life was crazier than ever. Graduation was just around the corner; two weeks after that, I’d be leaving for Italy. On top of all my usual stuff, I had to write a speech (Valedictorian) and shop for my trip and college. Shit was so hectic; It took a few days for me to realize my period was late. I’m not one to have sex unless I’m in love, so I’d gone off my birth control when I split with Jack. My cycle hadn’t been regular since. I told myself that’s all it was.
A week later…still nothing. Nada. No cramps. No bloating. No sore boobs. And, no more excuses. The shit was gettin’ real and I needed to stop pretending it wasn’t. I had early dismissal on Friday, so I was able to get to the drug store to get a test. I got home and made a beeline for the bathroom. I had to know. The last thing I remember is seeing that plus sign starting to appear. I don’t know if I fainted or went into shock or what because the next thing I knew my Mom was beating on the door asking if I was okay. I’d been in there for over an hour.
I opened the door and handed her the test stick. What else could I do? And, that was the moment I realized how AMAZING my mother is. The first thing she did was make a doctor appointment for Monday morning. Then, we talked about my options. She was so calm. She’d called to let my Dad know what was up. He kept his distance when he got home, but let us know he’d be right there if either of us needed him. They both told me it was my choice and mine alone. They would support me 100% no matter what.
I stayed in my room the rest of the weekend. I thought, I prayed, I googled. I weighed my options. When it came down to it, there was only one choice that would still allow me to go to Harvard. It was my dream and it was important. I wanted to make a difference in the world. I wanted to fight cancer. If you’d asked me the week before, I would have said I didn’t believe in abortion. Now, I realized you can’t really know what you’d do in a situation until you’re in it. Things looked so much different now.
My parents had lunch with Jack’s Mom and Dad after church on Sunday. My Mom said telling them was the proper thing to do. She made sure to let them know that Jack could call if he had questions or just wanted to talk and promised to give an update after my doctor visit the next day. My Dad thought it went well. He must’ve been right because we didn’t hear back from them that night.
On the way to the doctor, I told my mom that I’d decided to have an abortion. It wasn’t an easy choice or one I made lightly. When faced with an unwanted pregnancy, there is no easy solution. After the exam, we sat down with the doctor. I told her I had some questions about abortion, but she cut me off mid sentence. She told us that in Georgia abortion is only legal up until the sixth week. I was a little over 7 weeks along. She went on to explain that, because of the serious consequences and criminal charges physicians now face, very few doctors perform the procedure anymore. And, those who do, are not willing to accept out of state patients. In other words, I didn’t have an option after all. I had to carry this child full term.
Three Months Later:
My diploma is in a drawer somewhere – still unopened in the envelope they mailed it in. I didn’t go to graduation; I never even went back to school. I had more than enough credits and was excused from the last few weeks of classes. My parents thought I should go to the ceremony; that I should still be proud of what I’d already accomplished. They said nothing could take that away. But, something did.
The speech I wrote wasn’t anything special. Just the typical “dream big and work hard” crap. Technically, I was still valedictorian. But, did they expect me to get up in front of 1,000 people and say some bullshit I don’t even believe anymore? Not happening. I didn’t want to be laughed at and I didn’t want to be pitied. And, I damn sure didn’t want to walk across the stage knowing people were trying to catch a glimpse of my baby bump beneath my gown.
Am I keeping my baby? I don’t know yet. I found out there are 14,000 children in foster care in Georgia. 14,000 kids who need homes. The social worker says that won’t happen to my baby. Newborns are always adopted immediately. What about all those older kids though? Don’t they deserve a family too? Will my baby take a place that might’ve been theirs? But, if I keep it, how fair is that to my parents. They’ve taken care of me for the past 18 years. This should be THEIR time. No way I could do this without them, though. And, who knows how long it would be until I could.
If you’re wondering what Jack thinks, well.. you’ll have to ask him. You may want to do it soon, he’ll be leaving for USC any day now. Jack’s mother did not return my Mom’s calls after my doctor appointment. She finally explained things over voicemail. Jack’s mom responded by text. “We will do our part financially should Jill decide to keep the baby. We feel terrible about Harvard, but don’t see any benefit to Jack missing out on his dream as well. He will be attending USC in the fall as planned. My husband has put in for a transfer and we hope to be moving to the west coast within the next 6 months. Give Jill our best.”
That night in Florida, Jack knew I wasn’t on the pill anymore. Which means, we BOTH made a mistake. We BOTH acted irresponsibly. Why am I the ONLY one suffering the consequences? My ENTIRE life has changed. I lost Europe. I lost Harvard. I’m NOT going to be a doctor. Jack loses nothing. His parents may have to dish out a little child support payment every month. Big deal. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Jack. I can’t get mad at him for doing what I would if I could.
I am angry. Angry at the system. Angry at the MALE politicians who voted “yea” on a bill that erases over 40 years of progress in WOMEN’S rights. Angry at the governor who looked so smug and proud of himself at the “official signing” photo op. For what? Winning a political game? And, who pays the price for your victory? Not you. Not Jack. With your signature, women in the state of Georgia got screwed. I got screwed. And, like the old saying goes, Mr. Governor, I didn’t even get kissed.
If you think this could never happen to you… or your daughter, or granddaughter, or niece.. think again. I am intelligent. I was raised in a loving, Christian home. I have morals. I NEVER got in trouble. And, I got pregnant in high school. Now, I’ll become a mother before I’m a legal adult. But, even if I was older, I shouldn’t be forced to give birth if I’m not ready. No one should.
I’ve been avoiding social media because I knew my friends’ graduation pictures and videos would just piss me off. Telling ya’ll my story made me feel better, though. Less salty. And, I have been curious, so… maybe I’d just scroll through a couple. But, wouldn’t ya’ know, Jack was in the first snap I opened. He was still in his gown, but in place of his graduation cap, he was wearing a Dodgers one. I didn’t open any more.
Thank you, Outside World, for listening.. and, lettin’ me keep it real. “Til next time.. Peace and love from Jill Hill.