Sixteen And Pregnant- Part One

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On July 7, 1988, I found myself traveling across Phoenix, Arizona in an un-air-conditioned 67 Gallaxy with red leather seats sticking to the backs of my thighs.  Windows rolled down, pony tail flying in the wind, I looked out at the city rolling by…so far from Alaska, so far from home…and wondered how I’d come to be there.

I laid one hand across my swollen middle, tugged at the sweaty white satin of my wedding dress as it clung to every curve in the 120 degree sun and tried to imagine a different dream.  One where I wasn’t about to marry in a courthouse, far from home, eight months pregnant and completely in denial. It was hard to focus on the dream with the baby kicking inside my womb and Metallica screaming on the radio station as the would-be father sung along as he drove.  I was sixteen years old.

He swung the car into the parking lot of the Maricopa County Courthouse and switched off the 390 big block.  It was a hot car, in every sense, and probably the only thing we had going for us that day.  I opened the car door, put my flip flops on the steaming black pavement and waddled out the door, slamming it behind me.  He gallantly held out his hand and we walked towards the building where we would be determined husband and wife.  He was eighteen years old.

When we arrived inside, he went to the little window to fill out paperwork while I made my way to a grouping of chairs in the waiting area.  I tugged the white satin away from my round figure and looked down to realize that in 120 degrees, white satin coated with sweat becomes almost completely transparent.  Nice.  So I plopped my practically naked, eight month pregnant form onto a hard plastic chair next to an elderly man.

The man looked me over, smiled politely and said, “Are you getting married today?”

“Yes,” I smiled shyly.

“You look lovely.”

God bless him…I almost believed his smiling sincerity until I went to tug my pony tail back into place and found it had slid halfway out down my head and hung, limp and wet, down my back.  Yes…I was a beauty, for sure.  I was eight months pregnant, sweaty, basically naked, too young to see an R-rated movie and about to be married.  I was, no doubt, quite a site.

They called our name and we went into a chamber where the judge looked over his glasses at me, then at him.  Do you have any witnesses, he wanted to know.  We did not.

A few minutes later two small round Hispanic women from the front office entered and stood on either side of us.  Our groomsman…and maid of honor.

Approximately fifty-eight seconds later, I was hitched.  The two sweet women hugged me, said somethin I couldn’t understand, signed and stamped our certificate and yelled out, “NEXT” as we were ushered out the door.

We retraced our steps, through the lobby past the sweet old man who again smiled as I past, no doubt wondering if we’d even make it out the door before we divorced, and back through the thick wall of heat just outside the tall glass doors.

As we pulled from the parking lot, onto the busy street a truck pulled in front of us, the back full of tan, young girls in bikini tops and shorts.  As I tugged my maternity underwear from my skin and felt my baby move with force, he honked his horn, smiled and waved at the girls in the truck.

And so began the spiral of my first marriage…

Part Two

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