Image: Morgan via Flickr.

I spent my twenties making mistakes — really good mistakes, too juicy to share with a nameless audience. Not having money did not stop me from having fun. When I was twenty-five, fifty dollars was a serious investment in fun. Fifty dollars bought me a good night out at the bar. Fifty dollars was the cost of an eighth. Fifty dollars was the price of Plan B.

I loved Plan B. For a few years, Plan B was my Plan A. Sasha on birth control was not my friend; I refused to have a relationship with my body, especially not on constant hormones. The consequences of my actions bored me: I ate what I wanted, took my antidepressants whenever I happened to remember them, and drank my way through anything approaching regret. I refused to give a man a reason to say no to me — if he didn’t want to use a condom, it wouldn’t be a problem. And it wasn’t just for his sake: I refused all limits on my pleasure. (Women who hate condoms exist; I am one of them.) I did dumb shit with strange men at bars because it meant I’d have a good story to tell the next day. I’d let anyone do anything to me as long as it was exciting.

The promise of Plan B made any night thrilling, made any story good. It offered an immediate redo, an erasure of the whole affair, and I wore the fuckup badge proudly. I always felt so cool buying Plan B. Like when I don’t let myself take ibuprofen during menstrual cramps. Like as close to my womanhood as I could get. O, Plan B!

I never called Plan B “the morning-after pill” because there was rarely a morning after with the people I slept with. But there were times when texting someone about splitting the cost felt like the ultimate in human connectedness. That twenty-five-dollar Venmo coming through was evidence I was cared for. Maybe he’d even text me again sometime?

I don’t know what’s in Plan B, nor do I really know how it works — what it does to my body, how long it lasts in the bloodstream, any of the invisible side effects, the dangers of taking it too much, or too young, or taking it on an empty stomach, or with other drugs. I didn’t know until recently that Plan B is slightly less effective for women over two hundred pounds, and I still don’t know why. All I knew is what I needed to know: You have to take it within seventy-two hours of unprotected sex, or as soon as possible. Preferably alone, in the Walgreens parking lot, hungover and wearing a cool pair of sunglasses.

I never got pregnant. I survived my recklessnesses. Today — older, stronger, healthier — I can look back at all those mistakes lovingly. I was just a girl, a go-getter, a hot young patriot taking advantage of her freedoms. Were they even mistakes, anyway? I did exactly what I wanted to, because I could.

Sasha Debevec-McKenney

Sasha Debevec-McKenney is a poet who studies the presidents. She was the 2020–2021 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and she received her MFA from New York University. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Yale Review, TriQuarterly, Granta, Peach Mag, Underblong, and elsewhere. She was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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