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Swimming Alone in the Gulf of Papagayo

By Tricia Savelli

I have been careful all my life, a rule-follower to a fault. When I was twenty-two, I visited Costa Rica with my then-boyfriend, about a month after the-baby-we-could-have-had would have been born.

      Things had been rocky between Jon and me ever since, but we never blamed it on the abortion. Instead, we tried to blame our growing distance on our international relationship or my graduate school, our different lives arching further and further apart like the Tigris and Euphrates. For months I’d held our secret shame in the pit of my clenched stomach, as our silence stretched across countries and time zones. When I started graduate school, I felt like it was on the tip of my tongue, wanting to be free, needing to be recognized. You don’t know me if you don’t know my pain! It wanted me to shout to new friends over coffee, I lost something! I had to do it all alone, I hurt! It seemed integral to who I was. A pain I felt so truly but that was never recognized by Jon, the person I wanted to see it most of all. I felt, suddenly, that everyone needed to know, and at the same time, that I could tell no one. So it festered inside of me, an unspoken pain that never went away.

     When I first learned I was pregnant, it was in the rundown apartment that I shared with three other girls from college. My roommate, Lindsey, and I bought the test from the corner store, and tried to camouflage it amongst the magazines, cheap wine, and Ramen noodles in our cart. I knew it before I took the test. I was terrible at taking my pill. Too ashamed to return home to weather out the abortion, I planned it for a three-day weekend and Lindsey helped me through the first tough weeks. It didn’t matter that I was staunchly pro-choice, I didn’t want to be that girl  on a gossipy Catholic college nestled in a small town, and I definitely couldn’t bear to face my mother. While we waited for the pills to dissolve on my tongue, we lay on top of my bed. She squeezed my hand like a sister would, and I will always love her for that. Jon stayed in Canada, and didn’t visit again until I graduated college in May. I remember when he kissed me and said, It’s in the past now, baby.     


About the Author

Tricia Savelli is a graduate candidate in the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at California State University, Fresno. She teaches creative nonfiction at Fresno State. Previously, she worked for The Philip Levine Prize for Poetry and as an editorial assistant for The Normal School. She likes to visit her family in the San Francisco Bay Area, travel, and hike at the beach with her dog, Hugo. This is her first publication.