Three women gossip of life for friendship.
When three women make up a social circle, there's an unstated rule that always ends up working out. If any two girlfriends are together for a "girl session", and the third friend is absent, the third friend will be talked about. I don't know if it's the nature of women, or just the function of gossip.
I hadn't seen Jennifer or talked to her on the phone for several months, about the same time I decided to give up my cell phone. Financial times are tough. Cell phones always end up costing more than the monthly fee, if you get into ringtones, and games and apps, and how can you not.
I was functioning okay with my first generation almost smart phone, so that fingers moving a screen is something that merely fascinates me at this point. I'll just admire from afar. I hate when I get a spell of trying to keep up with the Joneses' over material possessions. I know right now I don't have the time or attention to learn everything you have to know to actively drive an iphone.
Since I don't have natural computer skills to rely on; I'm not from that generation. For the time being I'm leaving the smart phone to the rest of the world. Not seeing Jennifer playing with her first smart phone kept me from wanting one. Usually her electronic and computer savvy keeps me on my competitive toes. We used to spend a lot of after bar hours texting each other. When I realized I was paying at least $54 per month to play around texting, well, it seemed extravagant. I'm usually at the house with my land line anyhow. How "in touch" do we really need to be? So I decided that for me. In the meantime Jennifer and I just quit connecting. We weren't mad at each other at the time. However, during the three or fours months involved, Jennifer and Lisa had gotten mad at each other--mad enough that they each threw each other's cell numbers away.
Lisa had moved twice, and lives closer to me, so we got to be running buddies, you know shopping for things, girl stuff sometime, girl talk always. Usually Lisa has a tale about a new boyfriend and another drinking binge that lead to custody problems with her teenage daughter and bipolar son. She says she know she's gotta stop drinking. She took some muscle relaxers with a couple of bottles of brandy and a new boyfriend on New Year's Eve, and her bare arm was sporting a purple and green bruise on her arm. She didn't remember what happened because she was so drunk, and she knew it was a different kind of messed up drunk because of taking the muscle relaxers.
Mostly when we're together driving around, I listen and she talks. I've been through the alcohol thing already, and I got to the other side as mostly a non-drinker. I'm about ten years older than Lisa. Jennifer is the wild child of the group, just recently celebrating her 25th birthday.
When I last saw Lisa for shopping, I could tell she was about to bust, wanting to tell me something. She got settled in the driver's seat (she usually drives because she knows where we're going), made a full stop at the stop sign, and turned on to the main road before it burst out.
"Jennifer's pregnant. They had to get out of the house they were staying in because the owner decided to sell. Arturo went back to California, and he took all his stuff with him. She said she's going to live under the bridge at the freeway in Garland."
"I know the one," I said. Maybe not the exact one, but I knew the neighborhood. Even though the sun was shining and the temperature comfortably warm for a day in Texas in January, Jennifer was speaking from stubborn desperation. She was crazy desperate, and willfully independent.
"Arturo just left? Of course the way she stuck herself to him, he'd have to leave town to get away from her." I contemplated the actual truth of the situation, They'd lived together and apart and together at quite a few places since they'd been together--maybe a year and a half.
"And he took all his stuff to California with him? He just went off and left her pregnant without a place to live? Did he leave her any money?"
"I don't think he had any money to leave her. He was working for his brother-in-law at an auto repair place, and they got drunk and had some kind of disagreement, and Arturo hadn't been paid since."
"That happened a long time ago, or it happened again. He's always made damn good money for a wetback. He was making more than $20 per hour when he was working the crane on that construction job. Then Jennifer implied he was making plenty of money since he changed jobs. There was enough money for a 12 pack or two of beer every night. She'd try to keep up with him, and try to outdrink him. I remember when she didn't drink at all. I thought the excessive beer was just a phase she'd drop when she decided to move on to somebody better. And he just left her."
By the time we got to the store, I was shocked enough still to be content sitting quietly in the truck a few minutes.
I've known Jennifer three years, and never known her to have a regular job. She talks about when she used to work at Taco Cabana. I heard she had a job at a sandwich shop for a week or so, until there was some problem that prevented her from showing up for the job on time in her uniform. Jennifer does contract work when she can find it. She helped clean my house a few times, but I wouldn't recommend her for her housekeeping abilities. Jennifer knows lots of people. She gets by. And Grandma has been consistently good about sending money to make ends meet.
There was none of me wondering what I'd do in that situation. My time for that sort of thing has passed. I never had a baby. Thought about trying it with a frozen pop and no boyfriend, but I didn't have the money to chase medical science back then. I was busy working. Jennifer said something about me being a grandmother once, joking you know.
A lot of thoughts were going through my head when Lisa got back. What the hell was she going to do? How can you have a baby with no help from the father, no place to live, and no obvious income. I was usually light and carefree and happy around Lisa. Her living situation, as well as Jennifer's, always makes me feel fortunate about my own situation.
On the drive back to Lisa's house I must have asked, "Is she sure she's pregnant?" about five times. Jennifer and I met about four years ago, when our boyfriends lived next door to each other. I was always trying to help out, or offer advice, or scrape together a few bucks for the present financial emergency. Lisa and Jennifer add chaos to my life that I consider excitement.
I wanted to help, but I wasn't in a situation to volunteer plunking her situation in the middle of my life. It was a few days later that Jennifer contacted me through Facebook, and she did indeed say she was pregnant and going for a sonogram next week. Jennifer said her Grandma was okay with her being pregnant as long as Alberto was going to be responsible.
I don't make waves. I took the information she offered. I worried about her day and night for three days. What was she going to do?
On the third day it hit me like a bolt. Some people are survivors. Jennifer is a survivor. Somehow. . . with God's help. . . she's going to make it.