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We never use condoms. Not because we don’t care, but because I assure him I can’t get pregnant, based on my own unscientific hypothesis. Since I liberally employ my preferred woman-on-top position, which I read somewhere, perhaps in Cosmopolitan magazine, makes implantation extremely difficult, and because I believe I am somehow gifted with a “tilted” uterus (I had overheard such talk between my mother and grandmother, a genetic predisposition, I intuited) we think we are in the clear. A green light for unencumbered lovemaking without duty, without consequence.

No, we never use a condom until a week goes by, then another, past the date when I should have bled. By then it is already too late. I can hear my grandmother’s voice in my head: ‘closing the barn door after the horse is already let out will do you no good’.

It suddenly dawns on me when I fall ill one evening standing at the stove frying onions while he showers after working all day delivering auto parts–that the unthinkable has happened.

We are both in denial for the first few weeks of the pregnancy. I recently started working at McDonald’s and my training is almost complete. But I find myself becoming nauseous first at the odors in the restaurant of frying onions and then just at the thought of walking through those kitchen doors.

We buy a box of condoms and start using them regularly, sobered by the scare. One night a condom falls out of the open window where we had it waiting on the sill.  It’s our last one. He scrambles downstairs looking vainly in the dark, stone courtyard below. It would be laughable if it didn’t feel so dire.

I’ve only just recently moved out of my mom’s place officially. And we’ve only been together for a few months. Even so, there is a certain inevitability that we will be together.

His parents are not happy with the situation, but I get the feeling my mom is relieved to see me go. She said if it doesn’t work out I can come home. But I know we made the right choice.

I love playing house and I love cooking for him. I am disappointed that he doesn’t like to eat in the morning. I especially love cooking breakfast. I  pack his lunches, wash his laundry, and wait each evening with dinner ready after work.

After dinner we sometimes go for long walks up and down the dark sidewalks of our neighborhood or we sit in the Florida room playing records and smoking Marlboro Lights on into the night. He picks out a few notes on his guitar and strums along now and then. We both agree Summer Breeze by Seals and Croft is our song. The lines and verse express everything we are building together, everything we feel about the blissful domesticity we share.

“Sweet days of summer, the jasmine’s in bloom. July is dressed up and playing her tune.

And I come home from a hard day’s work, and you’re waiting there, not a care in the world.

See the smile a-waitin’ in the kitchen, food cookin’ and the plates for two.
See the arms that reach out to hold me, in the evening when the day is through.

Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind.”

I immediately quit high school upon moving away from home. My Mom is distracted with her own life and doesn’t try to keep me in school anyway. I feel like I can get away with skipping a lot, and I do. By moving into my new life it is a logical way to get out of going to school for good. I finally feel free, living an adult’s life, though I am only fifteen.

We spend our small grocery budget each week on the same basic items. Cheap packages of thin-sliced processed lunchmeats at three for a dollar, white sandwich bread, iceberg lettuce, bottled thousand island salad dressing, cottage cheese, the house-brand equivalent of Pop-Tarts, boxes of Rice-a-Roni when they are on sale, dried pasta and tomato sauce, milk, cereal, eggs and sometimes ground beef.

My menu repertoire is simple most of the time in the small kitchen with only a counter top stove and no oven. Occasionally, because I feel I should do something to ‘earn my keep’ and because I like to cook, I try a few recipes from my mom’s cookbooks.

There are chicken fricassee and chicken and dumplings to be proud of. I become closely attuned to the foods he likes and doesn’t like. I borrow my Mom’s crock-pot and make beef stew with vegetables. I make sure the vegetables in his salad are diced large the way he prefers.

His mom shows up with bags of groceries in the beginning. It feels like Christmas! Brand -name breakfast cereals, canned goods, real Pop Tarts and Rice-a-Roni galore.

On most weekends we  buy a cheap jug of Carlo Rossi Rose’, a couple blocks of cheese and a bag of potato chips for our little cocktail party for two. Our ritual never suffers for lack of money—we simply write a check and let if float until payday when he deposits his check to cover it. This method only fails a couple of times. I think he is so clever. Some nights we play cards or go to the movies with friends or family but most of our nights we spend in our cocoon.

To be continued…