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I've always believed in the philosophy "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" or in other words, I was a chameleon who changed colors to fit into any environment. I learned early in life that deceptively assimilating to change is so much easier being a faux chameleon than it is constantly butting heads with the status quo. It was another thing I was great at in short bursts, but one huge problem with
being a chameleon, I didn't have a color for pregnancy and whoever came up with the asinine idea that all pregnant women are beautiful was either a fool, a damn liar, a man or a combination of all three...try fat and ugly with stretch marks and having some award-winning hemorrhoids and insane food cravings instead and you might have hit the nail directly on its head. I always loved the reaction people would have, when they addressed me as "Mrs. Ratched" assuming that because I was pregnant I was married and I would politely correct them by replying "Miss Ratched...I'm not married." To my response always came an immediate apology and I always assured the person not to be sorry because I wasn't.

Upon finding out I was pregnant, I made the decision to return home. My mother insisted I do that because she was worried I wouldn't take care of myself. For the life of me I couldn't understand why she would ever think that [please insert sarcasm and eye roll here], but returning home seemed like the right thing to do so home I went...for awhile at least.

While I had been having my misadventures in Nub City, my stepfather's niece, Teresa had moved in with my mother and him. She had no problem with making herself right at home. This included plundering through my belongings whenever she felt like it and wearing my clothes without asking me. When I confronted her, she simply told me that I wouldn't be wearing any of them any time soon...TRUE, but they still belonged to me and she should have asked me first. It didn't take me long to see the writing on the wall. My relationship with her would always be adversarial at best. So much for having a peaceful pregnancy with no stress...

One day when I had my fill of Teresa, I wrote my mother a short note, walked out of the house and hitch hiked back to Chipley. Surprise, bitches! I'm back! Bring on the bologna sandwiches, but hold the mushroom tea!

In reality I was no closer to figuring out what I was going to do than I was before I left Pensacola. With plenty of time on my hands, I couldn't help but think about all the days that led to my present situation dilemma delicate condition. I think getting a birthday card from Bruce (remember him?) effected me more than I cared to admit. It made me think once again of Stacy and the huge mistake I had made. I never did tell my friends I was hurting. None of them knew of my adventures at Kinsman Hall. They knew nothing about the pain I carried with me. I missed my friends I had left behind and although I know the door had been slammed in my face months before from never returning there even though I had tried, I knew a part of me would always remain in Jackman. I just did what I always do...put on a convincing act as if and everyone saw me as a free spirit with not a care in the world (another thing to add to my list of things I do well.)

Everyone always assumes Florida has no winter. Up here on the Redneck Riviera, winter does exist! It may not get into sub-zero temperatures like those in Maine, but it gets in the 20's several times throughout the winter months (not exactly considered ideal camping weather) On one of those chilly nights in January, Theresa and I went by to visit her family and ended up spending the night at her mother's house. Her brothers had built a nice, toasty fire in the backyard and had pitched a tent. We thought camping out sounded like a splendid idea until about 3am when I hadn't slept a wink and was colder than a witch's tit (an old Maine saying.)  No matter what position I got in, I couldn't get comfortable laying on the ground in a sleeping bag. The crackle of the inviting fire had long died out and was replaced with the sound of Theresa grinding her teeth in her sleep. And yes, Theresa could sleep through anything!

I woke her up and told her I was going inside the house because I was freezing. I was either going to kick one of her brothers out of their bed or I was going to crawl in with one of them. Upon waking, Theresa discovered she was cold also and thought going inside was a great idea so in we went and out came her brothers bitching at how rude we both were. Being pregnant definitely had its advantages.

The next day Theresa and I made our way back to Chipley. Our first stop before going "home" was to make a bologna run at the local Piggly Wiggly. Murphy Laws states that whenever you don't want to run into someone, that person will always show up unexpectedly so one should always be prepared for such inauspicious occasions. When we came out of the store, there was Rickey Brooks and Kent French waiting for us. Naturally, after the customary greetings, Theresa thought it would be a friendly gesture inviting them back to our place. This would have been a great time to have Theresa wear a shock collar set on "kill the bitch," but I smiled and agreed to the visit.

By this time, there was no hiding that I was pregnant. I could see the wheels grinding away as Rickey did some quick math in his head. It seems like I went from being able to wear my normal clothes to nothing fitting overnight. Being pregnant definitely has a way of spreading the news without ever having to say a word. The visit was somewhat awkward. Rickey eyes never left me and I kept trying to avoid looking at him as much as possible. He looked like he was waiting for me to say something acknowledging being pregnant, but I never said a word. Add that to my list of things I'm great at doing! A simple discreet "the baby isn't not yours" would have adequately sufficed, but no such  words ever left my lips.

Rickey looked good...he always looked good. But more important, there were no visible signs of the horrific accident he had been in a few months earlier. After awhile Rickey fell into his normal playful banter with everyone and he even tried convincing me he was crazy because his car rolled on his head. To that, I kindly reminded him that the car rolling on his head had nothing to do with him being crazy. That ship had sailed a long time before his accident! When it came time to say our farewells, I did manage to tell him I was glad he was okay and that I was moving back to Pensacola even though I hadn't actually decided to do so. I just knew I couldn't tolerate anymore visits from him. I had some real regrets where he was concerned, but dealing with them now had been placed on the back burner. Maybe someday I'd address those regrets, but today wasn't that day.

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