After the abortion it often felt like someone had left open a door and my life had wandered off and gotten lost. I was lost at sea and the forecast was deep fog, 24/7. But I was no ship, and there wasn’t a beacon anywhere in sight. This was a storm I had to brave all by myself. I went about my life with a pretense of normalcy in the desperate, but absurd belief that if I did not talk about what had happened, eventually I would get over it and life would get back to the way it was.
But it did not. The year 1990 had started with a bang, the death of my father, and ended with another bang, another death. In all the abortion debates I had seen back then, absolutely no one talked about the aftermath, about what comes next once the choice has been made. The people at the abortion clinic just told you how to take care of your body until it recovered. Nobody told me how to take care of my mind, what to expect or whether I was ever going to recover from my decision. Nobody told me that the machine they hooked up to me was going to suck so much out of me. I saw the reddish tinge on the inside of the hose, and right at that moment I crossed a line from which there was no turning back.
So when the storm started raging, I just battened down the hatches and got ready to wait it out. But all my experience in surviving hurricanes did not prepare me for this.
In my black or white world, God (Destiny, the Universe, The Fates, or whoever keeps order in the chaos) had punished me for having sex, had tested me to see what I was made of. And I had failed miserably.
On my way back home, I would drive by one of the first controlled access subdivisions in my town. It consisted of a series of duplexes or town homes, barricaded by a freakishly tall cement wall. No trees anywhere to be seen, small lots with teeny tiny backyards, a total claustrophobic nightmare. Why would someone want to pay a premium for that? The back of the subdivision faced Iturregui Avenue, and graffiti artists loved to decorate the concrete wall. As I drove every day, I could see the graffiti evolve. Some were trivial proclamations of coupledom (Yaya y Tito, Luisín y Lucy), but there was more elaborate stuff, lots of intricate artwork and recurring tags.
I was obsessed with that wall. It beckoned me, its maze of scribbles and explosions of color a welcome change from the drab, dull surroundings of my daily commute to and from law school. As my world plummeted into darkness and despair, the wall shined brighter and brighter. The slightest turn of the steering wheel while driving at high speed, and everything would be over. Every day, as I passed it, I would dare myself to do it. Sometimes I let go of the steering wheel for a fleeting second, just to see if the car would careen into the wall by fate. But I was too chicken to attempt suicide, too afraid of pain to have the guts to do it.