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October 23, 2020

Decisions, Decisions - Jill Chenault & Harjeet Kapor

The Moth


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Welcome to the moth podcast. I'm your host aleeza kazmi.

Wherever you are in life path right now. If you turn around you'll see a string of decisions that led you to where you are today the choices we make big or small give us agency over our bodies and our being

today to Storyteller. It's hard to make very difficult and vastly different choices are first story is from Jill Chenault Jill told us at a story Slam in Ann Arbor where the theme of the night was the heat is on yours Joe live at the mall.

Richard Nixon resigned on August 9th 1974. I know this because a year later I was lying across the back seat of our station wagon hot ass vinyl seats.

Drenched in sweat pretending to be asleep. So my parents wouldn't talk to me. My father wouldn't turn on the air-conditioning because it bothered my mother sinuses and she was sitting next to him in the front seat on the radio initially was jumped WJZ then public radio. No one had spoken for the hour or so that we were in the car except for when my mother asked me if I was okay, if we got off the highway I heard the theme song for all things considered as we pulled into our driveway the host said that that was the first anniversary of Nixon's resignation. I don't care about that.

I wish I were riding my bike or playing tennis or just lying in the grass looking at the clouds. But there I was in that backseat my face stuck to the seat sweat running into my eyes listening to a story about Nixon.

We were on our way home from the hospital where I had an abortion. I was 14 years old. I'd only had sex once and he was my first boyfriend and we weren't allowed to visit each other unless at least one parent was home, but he was persistent and I was curious and so even though I like sports more than boys. I gave it a try as soon as I miss my. I knew back then pregnant girls were sent away and if they came back it was either with no baby or they suddenly had a baby brother or sister that polite people didn't ask about

Appearance when do any of that but everybody expected me to become a lawyer like I denounced in second grade. I couldn't be pregnant.

I had planned on riding my bike all summer. And I was a good kid earned honor roll all the time. I was all city in track and volleyball. I played softball for st.joe Park. I make Nationals in tennis. I played the cello.

I couldn't be pregnant.

I was going to ride my bike all that summer and just playing the sun until I was blue black in the sun made my hair red.

I couldn't start 10th grade with girls whispering and pointing at me I had to do well if that's cool. I had to make my parents happy I couldn't be pregnant. I was going to ice skate at Central Park that summer and I was going to play crack the whip. I just couldn't be pregnant.

In the shower. I tried to will my body to force everything out into the tub.

I used to knitting needles to try to pierce my cervix and cause a miscarriage.

I'd heard that taking poison. Maybe Drano would end it but it wouldn't quite kill me.

One morning after I sneak to the downstairs bathroom to throw up my mother met me in the living room. She took me by my shoulders and said what's wrong.

Are you pregnant?

For the first time her holding me in her arms didn't help.

She took me to a doctor out of town very small soft-spoken woman who's beautiful Indian accent carried me to someplace far away. Maybe she'd say I was just sick.

But she confirmed what I already knew.

Over the next few weeks. I tried to will my heart to stop or have a stroke like my Aunt Shirley. I cried so hard I threw up thinking maybe I could convulsed the pregnancy away.

We never talked about whether I would have an abortion. We just knew my mother told me the date and then on August 8th, she told me not to eat after 5 p.m. Nobody talks in the car on the way to the hospital. I gladly escaped into general anesthesia, and I tried to stay there, but then we pulled into the driveway.

My mother got out and opened both back door. So maybe I could catch a breeze and I thought my father had gone in the house with her, but when I finally set up he was standing right there staring out into the yard.

I swing my legs out of the car, but instead of helping me up. He knelt in front of me. I prayed that he wouldn't talk.

Do you like sex ohmigod? I gave the only answer to that question from my father. No, don't worry. You will you're supposed to like it. I love it, but that's because I'm a grown man, and I love your mother. Oh, God. Please make him stop talking. Please just making stuff.

One day when you're older and more mature you'll want to have sex again, but that's my point. You're too young to make that decision.

I still wanted him to stop but I settled down.

When you're ready, just tell us and we'll get you some birth control. You got that. I'm not.

Don't you believe all these little boys talking about they love you, and you're so pretty don't you fall for that?

And don't start thinking that you're cute smart Beats the hell out of cute every time and you're very bright. We love you. You going to be okay?

I don't agonize over having had an abortion. Sometimes I wonder how my life would have been if I'd had a kid when I was a kid.

But then I think about what a good life. I've had. I wasn't capable of raising a child and I wouldn't ask my parents to do it for me.

At times I think about laying in that backseat in a puddle of Sweat and Tears trying to wish everything away.

And even though I hated the choices that I had I'm thankful that I had them. Thank you.

That was Jill Chenault Jill comes from a family of storytellers. She's lived in a lot of places and has worked as a criminal defense attorney actor writer and dog walker Adventures have provided plenty of material for her stories.

Jill's father passed away recently. She told us that one of the things you loved about him was that he always said what needed to be said, even when it was hard or uncomfortable and he had a strong opinion about pretty much everything. She said that a lot of his choices for his family were difficult to understand like moving the family to Germany for a year or taking them to Haiti during a time of unrest but they were all made in the name of education and fro and when it came time for gel to make a choice about her pregnancy, she said my father fully supported my decision you understood that it was mine and mine alone to me.

To see some photos of Jill and her father had to our website the ma.org.

Up next Hardy Cooper told the story on a story Slam in Seattle where the theme of the night was Love Hurts. Here's hard to live at the mall.

I am an expert at long-distance relationships.

I've been in one with my parents for 9 years now.

So I I call if my dad and usually I talk to my parents one at a time. But on this day, I called my dad. He's in the balcony this morning. She's having his morning tea and I tell him call Mom. I need to talk to you guys and and my dad says is everything. Okay, what's going on at the time? I was searching for a new job. So my parents first thought was that I was calling to tell them about a job offer and then my mom comes running in and she says what happened to get a job and I said no more. I need to tell you something. I've met someone that I like her name sejal. She's Hindu.

Like most young people hiding from the existential dread of talking to strangers. We met online.

not not on not on hinge or Tinder but on Reddit and

and unlike most single serving conversations just like one of our teams are ghosted that happened online our conversation turned into a beautiful friendship like a seed that grows into a tree and backed our first conversation went so well that by the end of it and offered her a partner steak in my imaginary potato based food truck spudnik.

We spoke in the first time in September would buy New Year's Eve were comfortable enough to spend four hours on the phone together discussing New York Times 36 questions that make you fall in love.

And on the question of what role does Love and Affection play in your life. We talked about her past relationships. I told her I'd never been in one. I told her my parents expect me to marry someone who's sick someone from my own faith, and she said it would matter the rules weren't mad when you find the right person. The rules won't matter at the time. I didn't know that you would be the person would breaking the rules 4.

We and then she was at she was kind. She was generous. She was giving she's beautiful inside now. She study psychology. She work with children with autism someday. She'll come back bruise with the children. She's working with but with a smile on her face because she loved what she did.

and I'll

Sorry, I'm thinking but she nnnnn she would she would remain calm in the face of adversity and she'd remind me to stay calm as well as particularly when things didn't work out like finding a dog sitter in Seattle winter or dog sitter had to cancel or sending me send sending me voice notes before every interview when I was searching for a new job. If I was Marie. Kondo, I'd say she aspired to Joy.

And I'd love Blossom like a flower on that tree. I when I told you that was going to tell my parents about us. She said, you know how much that scares me. Right? And I said jokingly to her, you know, if my parents say no will just wait about 10 years. Everybody's going to come down then we can do whatever we want and then we get to the phone call with my parents Mom. I found someone that I like her name schedule cheese Hindu silence and then my dad asks, who is she? What did she do with her parents do when my mom still hasn't said a word and he says what do you know? It's too soon right? Now. You guys are just mad or have just been talkin and that's the saddest place in the monster hasn't said anything. So it's your mom say something that you said. What do you expect me to say and just anything what what are you thinking and she says there's nothing to see right. Now your dad said if you know what let's just wait it out. We cut the call what I didn't know after this was that there's a storm brewing a thousand miles away and for my mother who'd made so many sacrifices to see her son succeed. She

Plans for us and me marrying someone outside of my faith was not one of them.

And I called my mom the next day and she told me that after we've spoken she couldn't sleep the night night before she tried and tried to reconcile with the fact that this might be happening but you just couldn't let it go and I asked her just because she's Hindu something she didn't have any control over and she said it's her logical and irrational but emotionally my heart just can't accept it and I just can't do this tattoo is always better at seeing the future that I was she always like to think of contingencies. She asked me what if you talk to your parents and it doesn't work out. What if this is the last time we're speaking and I promised her that it wasn't but this next time was going to be

Patch I spoke to my parents. They said they can't accept it. They said that even if they did would be incredibly difficult for us that the rest of the family might not accepted. Our relationship would be under microscope and everybody would just be waiting for us to fuck up and even with all of that with the change that it would require on the sacrifices that it would demand. I don't want acceptance to come at the cost of changing you. I'm sorry touch is this over then say it heart is it over?

Patrick Kane

my heart's she cut the call.

At this point in time is probably easier to think of my parents of the villains, but imagine it from their perspective.

Imagine you've built this beautiful house that represents everything that you believe in your identity all the time. That's everything and someone you love and Trust unconditionally who is a stone in their hand threatening to destroy everything and represents and then they're attached or so and I can't imagine what it must have felt like for her to be told that you as you are not enough when I knew that for me she was and then there's me having to choose between the love that made me who I am today. I love that I chose and nothing hurts more than choosing between the two loves.

Edge and I haven't spoken in a year, but I still think about her there are days when I wish for her to just be happy and that she does whatever she wants to do, but then there's days when I think about the fact that what we said to each other we said if our parents say no will just wait about 10 years. It's been 1 year now nine more to go.

That was her Jeep before it was in New York and working technology, but says he's a Storyteller at heart will not working or telling stories. He likes to spend his time walking his dog hoping he doesn't bark at every UPS truck that passes by.

When I listening team first heard the story we needed to hear more from hard. He wrote us to say that although he intends still haven't spoken. He still thinks of her often. He said has and I were both very aware that there was a chance of things might not work out. We agreed we prioritize our parents over each other even though it meant me put it be together Life Works in funny ways. So who knows what will happen, but right now I view our time together as cherished memories that will last a lifetime.

Before we end today's episode. I want to take a moment to thank Jill and hearts for trusting us with their stories. Not all stories have a happy ending or tie up neatly in a bow and it takes a special kind of courage to share them with the world their stories remind us that even though we may not agree with the choices of others. We better ourselves each time. We try to understand them.

That's all for this week. If you're looking for more mop, you can check us out on Facebook and Twitter at the moth and Instagram at moth stories from all of us here at the moth have a story where the week.

Aleeza kazmi is a former moth assistant producer and alumna of the moth education program. She began telling stories with them off in 2015 and her story pastels and crayons has been Heard On The Moth Radio Hour and published in Teen Vogue and the moth third book occasional magic podcast production is by Julia Purcell The Moth podcast is presented by PRX the public radio exchange helping make public radio Moore Public PRX. Org.

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