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Lovers and Friends


Chapter Twelve

The next month was very busy for me, as it was for everyone at that time of year, especially for graduating seniors. I had a University Choir concert, voice juries, my final paper, and final exams. I also had to plan my move to London. My parents were still a bit apprehensive, but they knew I'd be with Auntie & Rog, and that I had come back from the summer relatively unscathed, so they figured it was safe. It wasn't like I was moving to a totally unfamiliar place. I think they were just worried about the distance between us. Anne was so excited for me. She was going to UW-Madison for graduate school. She admitted that she chose that school because of Dave, but we both knew she was planning on grad school anyway, and IWU had just ended its graduate programs in music, so she would have had to find another school regardless. I knew that I was going to miss her most of all. She promised that she would find some sort of excuse to come to England the next summer for a visit that she could pass off as an educational trip!

One of the songs I had selected to study that semester was "'Til There Was You." As a voice major, we could do one musical theatre song each semester; the rest had to be arias or art songs. I had thought about singing it the previous year, but now that it had meant so much more to me, I was glad that I had put it off. I could put a lot more feeling into the song now. On the other hand, it was sometimes hard to get through the song without choking up. The only people who knew the significance of it were Anne and Mrs. Harris, my voice teacher. Mrs. Harris thought it was pretty funny, but she understood the trials and tribulations of an overseas romance. She was an older woman, about 43. Her husband fought in the war, and they corresponded by mail for two years. I performed the song at the last voice convocation of the year, and Anne and Mrs. Harris were there to root me on. Actually, every voice major was there. The "convos" were a requirement for all voice majors; we had to attend every one Thursday at 4 p.m. in Westbrook Auditorium. They never really took attendance, but it was just understood that you had to go. They were a place where you could test out a song you had been working on; people loved it when you selected a nice short song! It went a little better than I thought; although I remembered just a few weeks prior when I was on that same stage singing and Paul was in the audience. My thoughts went back to Paul singing that song to me the night after we met in the smelly, dark Cavern Club, trying to make eye contact with me, and winking at me at the end of the song. It was such a sweet gesture, and once I had found out the song was for me, my heart melted.

Finals came and went, and although I was beginning to get preoccupied with my impending transatlantic move, I did pretty well. My final paper was on the symbolism in Wagner's Ring, which was not an easy paper, but I guess your final senior paper really isn't supposed to be a cakewalk!

A few days before graduation, Anne woke me up early, and since the only thing I had to do was work in the music library that night, I was hoping to sleep in. All the seniors had three days after finals to pack up our stuff, say goodbye to friends, return all our overdue library books, and press our graduation gowns. Anyway, Anne woke me up at 8:00 a.m. "C'mon, Jill, get up, I have a special day planned for you," she said as she sat on my bed.

"Huh?" I said groggily.

"We're going out to, um, lunch today. Maybe do some shopping."

I looked at the clock. "Anne, it's eight in the morning. No place is open, and it's way too early to even think about lunch. Can't I sleep in just once before I graduate?" I pulled the covers back up over my head.

Anne pulled them back down. "Jill, c'mon, get up. We're not going shopping just yet. I'm taking you to the doctor."

"Why? I feel perfectly fine, Anne. Actually, I'd feel better if you'd let me sleep in just a little bit more, and stop being silly," I said from under the covers.

"You can't; your appointment is at nine."

Now she was really confusing me. I poked my head back out of the covers and asked, "Appointment? Have you gone off your rocker?! Why are you making doctor's appointments for me?"

"Because I want to give you a sort of going-away present. You're going on birth control."

I sat upright. "What?!"

"Birth control pills. I've been on them for six months, and they're great!"

"For you, maybe. What makes you think I'm going to u--oh…" I said, slowly realizing the plan she was concocting. "Alright, let me get this straight. You want me to go on birth control because of Paul? You think this will somehow help the relationship?"

She nodded. "Yeah, it's great. You can be spontaneous, whenever you want...it's great, Jill."

Now that would be nice. I remembered Mom's many speeches about being careful, and how she was praying that she wouldn't show too much with me before she went through high school graduation. Mom certainly didn't have to know; I honestly didn't know if she would be proud or if she'd have Dad after me with a shotgun! But what the hell, why not? I was almost out of there anyway, and sometimes Anne needed a little humoring. "Okay," I said as I reluctantly got out of my warm comfortable bed. "What do I have to do?"

"Well, just get showered up and dressed--"

"I know that, silly. I want to know what I have to do at the doctor. Can he just write a prescription and I can go, or what?" I took off my pajamas and started to put my bathrobe on.

"No, he has to examine you, and you have to get a pap smear test, and a pelvic exam."

"A what test? And what's with the pelvic exam?" I asked as I tied my robe shut.

Anne's eyes grew wide. "Oh no, don't tell me you haven't had that before?"

"No...why? What do they do?" I winced.

Anne sat down on the chair at the vanity. "Oh boy. Um, sit down, Jill."

I looked at her suspiciously, but obeyed. I pulled the chair from my desk over to her. "Alright, shoot."

She explained to me what the doctor does in these types of exams. I thought that it was a little weird, but I guess it was necessary. My mother had never taken me to the doctor for that kind of exam. She also told me about how the pills worked and when you needed to take them. After Anne told me all that was involved, she said, "Well…do you still want to go?"

I had to think about what this decision meant for me. I didn't think that Anne was promiscuous, at least after she and Dave started dating, but it was almost like this pill would allow you to be. I wondered what Dave thought of it when she started taking them. What would it mean for Paul and I if I was on this pill? Would he have to know? Would he think less of me if he knew I was taking it, like I was expecting a lot of sex? Or would it make me look more responsible, more grown up, more willing to take charge of my own life? He really didn't have to know, I guess. I asked Anne, "So, this pill will make my periods regular, huh?" She nodded. That was enough on its own to sell me; I had never had regular periods my whole life. I stood up and said confidently, "I'm going to take a shower, and get ready for my doctor's appointment." I heard Anne giggle as I marched out of the room.

***

The day before graduation I woke up throwing up. I had to wait until my period came to start the pills, and I was hoping that it would come in the next couple days so I could start the pills that coming Sunday. Until then, was there the chance I could be pregnant? I was in such a fog at the doctor's office, I didn't know if he did a pregnancy test or not. Maybe I was just stressed, nervous, et cetera. But I had the little packet of pills, ready to start taking them after my period. Stress did tend to delay my periods, so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. Thankfully, my period did end up starting late Saturday night, so I was able to start taking the pills the next day.

On graduation day, I got dressed in my long navy dress that Dad had bought for me as part of my present. Actually, he had just sent me money and told me to "pick out something nice for yourself." I wondered why I needed to get dressed up; whatever I had on would be covered by my long green graduation gown! I wished I could keep that gown--the dark green color was perfect on me. The only thing I could keep was the tassel. I put the pink (for my music degree, not because I liked it) tassel on the mortarboard and tried as best I could to bobby pin the hat into place. It really didn't want to lie flat on my curly mop! Everyone wanted to take pictures of me in my gown; by the time they were finished I almost couldn't see because of the residual flashbulb imprints blurring my vision!

We walked over to the new Fred Young Fieldhouse; it had just been dedicated at the start of the basketball season that previous fall. My family got seats, and I found the "D"'s to stand by. Since we were a small school, we just lined up alphabetically instead of by major. As we lined up for the procession, people kept coming up to me. "Is it true you're moving to England?" "What about this rock star boyfriend of yours--is this serious?" Everyone had many questions. I hadn't really told too many people about going to England, but a lot of people knew about Paul. I tried to field questions right up to the point the Titan Band started playing "Pomp and Circumstance." We filed in, and it turned out that Dan was sitting right behind me. I tried to listen to the commencement speaker (some businessman from Chicago dispensing all his worldly knowledge on our impressionable college ears), but Dan kept tapping me on the back, whispering stuff to me, kicking my legs, passing me silly notes written on his commencement program, trying to remove my tassel…just general juvenile stuff that he always pulled. Man, I was going to miss him! He had been trying to get into the graduate school at Oxford, but was still on the waiting list. I hoped he could get in, he would certainly be nice to have around; with Paul gone all the time, I could still have a friend to pal around with.

We went to dinner at a place in downtown Bloomington called the Central Station Café. I had never been there--what cause does a single college student have to go out for a nice dinner? My whole family was there, I think we had commandeered about one-quarter of the whole restaurant! It was nice to be with everyone. I cherished that day; I knew this was the last time in a long time that I would see everyone together.

***

My short trip home was a welcome rest. I didn't have to pack much, but I did need to unpack enough stuff to live comfortably for a couple weeks! Chris begged to keep my Please Please Me album; I figured I could get another one, so I let him keep my copy. I was half-joking when I reminded him that it was autographed by all four Beatles, so if they ever made it big it could be worth quite a bit of money. I tried to fit in visits from family members and friends who wanted to see me before I left the country. I went out for a night with just my parents; they told me I could go anywhere I wanted, and I selected Ralph & Charlie's, my favorite local restaurant. I figured in the long run, I would miss the local food more than any non-descript fancy restaurant. I tried to get in all the local flavor one last time. I went into St. Louis a couple more times, went to the Zoo, took in a show at the Muny Opera House (the big outdoor theatre in Forest Park, luckily their season had just started), and saw a Cardinals baseball game. I was going to miss that city just as much as I would miss my own family!

My mother and I had a girls' day out one day before I left. She took me all around Granite City. We went shopping at Glik's Department Store, and walked a bit around Wilson Park. Over lunch at Petrie's Café, Mom started in on me, something that I was dreading but expecting. "Jill, I know this isn't what you want to hear from me, but I really wish you wouldn't go. I'm afraid you're moving thousands of miles away just to be with Paul, and no offense against him, and I know you know this, but music is not a very stable field."

I rolled my eyes, trying not to act like a bratty little girl as I spoke. "Ma, you have raised me to be an independent-thinking woman, which I know you were not raised to be. It was just the times you were in. But I thank you for my upbringing, and I hope that you can believe in me in this: I am not moving there for Paul, but he certainly was a consideration." I saw the concerned look on Mom's face and continued. "I don't know if I am doing the right thing, I'm the first to admit that. But I love London, and I have free room with Auntie & Rog for as long as I need it. Could I get that anywhere else?"

"Well, yes," Mom snapped. "You could stay at home."

"Ma! Haven't we been through this?" I stood firm. "I am going to London in ten days and you are not going to stop me. I'm not rebelling here or trying to escape anything…I'm just getting on with my life. Please be happy for me." I was almost in tears.

Mom was, too, and nodded. She came over to my side of the booth and gave me a hug. "Jill, I'm sorry I doubted you…it's just that I see my children growing up and I get a little afraid for you, for what the future has in store for you. You're leaving home now, and Chris is beginning to think about college…I don't want to lose you, honey."

"Mom, you're not losing me. I've been away at college for four years; I'll just be a little farther away than I have been."

"A little?! You call England a little farther away?" She chuckled. "I knew you were never good at geography, but--"

"You know what I mean, Mom. You know where I'll be. And I won't lie to you, I am a bit scared, but last summer prepared me for it."

Mom moved back over to her side of the table to finish her lunch. "Well, I think we've covered that subject enough…so, how is Paul's group doing?"

"Oh, they're going all over England now, which is great. Once I get over there, who knows how much we'll actually see each other, they've been touring and making appearances all over. Maybe if they come to America, I can sneak over with them and you can finally meet him!"

"That would be nice, Jill…so, is this serious?" she asked with raised eyebrows.

"You know, I really don't know…we're just starting out now. And I know he'll be busy, travelling all over the country…we'll see, Mom, okay?"

"Okay, Jill, I just don't want my only daughter to end up an old maid." She chuckled nervously, but I really didn't know if she was joking or not.


On to Chapter Thirteen
Back to Chapter Eleven


Copyright © Winona Patterson, 1999-2006.