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Amber Paulen

In Michigan

3 February 2010


It’s very pretty here, this morning, in Howard City, Michigan. With the snow drifting like heaven’s dandruff, down from the pale grey sky; with the snow clinging to drooping pine branches and stiff bare oak; with footsteps trailing and cows lowing. But I don’t think I’ll stay and enjoy it for awhile, two weeks is well enough.

I can’t stay here, because every time I think of what would be in store if I did, my gut upheavals. There’s family to contend with, and the easier admittance: it’s not for me. I hear lots of stories when I’m here, about people I’ve known and people I haven’t known, stories which end strikingly with babies. And lo I be ripe in childbearing years, I don’t feel it because my feet and my mind have always moved quickly. So many stories about young girls in their adventurous years, getting weighted in the belly.

“And then, she got pregnant.” So the stories end, stories that began full of youth and expectation.

Pregnancy is not just ailment of Michigan, though there is something here that exponentially births it. Abstinence lectures, “living in sin” and their sister: pro-life. The inundation is overwhelming I’m sure, so that pregnancy (overwhelming) leads to: I keep it, without a thought for the matter. Which blows my mind.

Yet, of young women having babies I cannot be so critical. After all, my mom had me at twenty and she is living a life at her disposal. It is a different pace, a different adventure, but when I see the ragged lines on my brother’s face trying to keep up with his one year old after a full day’s work, I’m not jealous but joyous that I get to go to the beach in Thailand. In Michigan, one baby by twenty-five is the norm; no thought of a baby by thirty is unnatural. I am against the status quo. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!



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