It was cold outside. I was in the no-man's-land of time between Christmas and New Year's Day. I had vacation time since Christmas eve and wouldn't return until the students came back in the first week of January. I was already a little nervous when Athena had asked me to go with her to the store to buy a pregnancy test. She wasn't feeling quite right and "had some related symptoms" that could indicate pregnancy. So we went to the drug store. All the while I told myself that we were just being thorough. The pregnancy test was just to rule out pregnancy as a possibility. This was nothing more than due diligence. We returned to our apartment and I tied back the curtain over the large window in our living room. I was inexplicably tired all of a sudden. Looking back now I know I was holding my breath. I lay down to take a nap on the futon, asking Athena to wait for me to wake up to use the pregnancy test. I wanted to be with her when she waited for the result.
Shortly after 2:00pm Athena woke me up saying she had to show me something. "I'm pregnant," she said. Time froze. My limbs went into a frenzy trying to get me vertical. I nearly fell off the futon trying to sit upright. Equal measures of panic, terror, and despair were pumping in my veins instead of blood. Every inch of my body was trying to run away from the rest. There was no where to go but I felt the need to move all the same. I honestly don't remember exactly what happened next. I held Athena. We cried. I paced. We lay down. We cried. There may have been a failed attempt to eat.
My world had burst apart into a million pieces. Every plan I'd made for my life came loose and crashed down destroying everything it touched. My world was eating itself. In the end I wasn't in a new world. There was nothing new or scary about where I found myself. There was nothing. Everything I thought I knew and understood had been replaced by the utter blank vacuum of space. I wanted to ask "how did this happen? How do I go on? How can I be a man now? How can I take responsibility? How can I make this go away? How can I get my world back?" With nothing left to interact with my mind soon fell into a repeating loop asking one question, "How?"
I wish my first response had been to tell Athena we would be okay, that I was going to stick with her, and we would find a way to make everything better. All I could do was cry.
The experience was one of utter devastation. A bomb had gone off inside me blowing apart the structure and sense of my understanding. I could barely string together a complete sentence.
The following two weeks were a blur of weeping, shaking, and distraction. Athena and I barely left the futon in our living room. The only exceptions were a visit to each of our parents, and when I returned to work. Leaving the apartment for the first time after the news, leaving Athena alone, felt like a terrible betrayal. I wanted to stay with her. At the time, Athena didn't have a job. She would be at the apartment all day by herself. I had to go to work or we couldn't pay the rent, but I felt terrible doing it.