Last week I bought a plant. I asked the florist how to tend for it and the advice he gave me was simple and profound. "If you want the plant to stay small, keep it in a small pot. If you want it to grow big and luscious, plant it in a larger pot. But keep increasing the size of the pots gradually as it grows."
Humans are no different. We are constantly in a state of flux and it is up to us whether we want to stay small in the comfort of our original pot or if we want to grow and expand our minds.
I make it a habit to get STD tested every six months or so. It's just good practice and good health, in my opinion. I normally go to a testing lab and pay out the ass but this time I decided to both get tested and breach my comfort zone a bit. I decided to go to Planned Parenthood.
As those who are close to me know, my stance on the topic of abortion is pretty conservative. I have never condemned anyone who chooses to have an abortion whatsoever, nor would I; but it's not a choice I would personally make for myself. As such, Planned Parenthood has not only been off of my list of places to ever go, but was also on an affirmative, "don't want to go there" list. If fact, I passed a clinic every day in Long Island City for months and would put my head down as I passed by. (As if abortion was contagious and it would somehow lunge out the door and onto my uterus forever.)
So this morning, when I arrived at the unmarked building for my appointment and was ushered upstairs through a series of security alarms and locked doors, I was nervous. First of all, needles make me nervous at it is, but here I was entering the bowels of a facility I had been raised to stand against.
I was greeted by a friendly receptionist who asked all the things and had me sign all the documents. She ushered me back to a second waiting room, behind yet another locked door. "Maybe this is a separate room just for testing" I thought.
"Well you don't gotta all look so unhappy." A tall dark woman in the corner said as I sat down. "Now, I know this one up here's been crying and let me tell you something you have nothing to be sad about because you're gunna have a baby when you're ready to have a baby."
Another woman behind me chimed in, "My son has autism and I'm a single mother. I can't have another baby, I just can't and I know I'm doing the right thing today."
"Not a room just for testing." I said to myself.
The young woman in front of me who had been crying spoke up. "Well the father wouldn't even pick me up today because he said he wanted me to have the baby just so he can do a DNA test because he doesn't believe it's his."
The entire room began to shake their heads. Talk about feeling like a fish out of water. I was literally surrounded by women who were choosing something that I would never choose for myself on a topic I could in no way relate to. Just then a woman came in failed a huge bowl with little lolly pops.
"Well, at least we have suckers." I said and everyone started laughing. Over the next hour I listened to the women tell their stories, trading lollipops, and sharing experiences. In an effort to respect their privacy and preserve the sanctity of this experience, I won't give any more details of the conversations. Suffice it to say, I had never been so comfortable to be outside of my comfort zone.
In the end, I learned that like most things, my "fear" of this facility was nothing more than a simple fear of the unknown. And while this experience hasn't changed my outlook on abortion, per se, it has certainly caused me to evaluate things in a new light. To pass on sympathy over judgment and compassion over condemnation. To never judge a building by it's sign and always step beyond my comfort zone.
I like to think that my short trip to Planned Parenthood was a way of giving myself a bigger place for my mind to grow and challenge itself. I hope that I never stop upgrading pots and one day I hope to have a whole garden of ideals, values and beliefs that in turn produce a loving and generous family.
So, to the wonderful women of Planned Parenthood, thank you. You don't know what it meant to me.