Eighty clients on the schedule. Around 11:30, I knock on pressboard wood and said, “Everything is going so well.” It takes a clinic to perform an abortion, and I don’t mean the building. “The clinic” is the people who run it. Naquia and I are all business until we reach the inner hallway. There, we dance together, conga-style, until Tommy passes through. Then, we burst into laughter. I can count on a warm text from him later on. Chloe and Ruby tear their hair out, but they do it together. I offer a hand to squeeze, just like I do for clients. They refuse in a chorus, and they smile. Chloe’s favorite descriptor is “amazing.” Sometimes, I don’t realize it until she says it, but it probably is amazing. Like Ruby’s smile is. Alethea is in Jakarta, but we’re all linked to her via text message. “She’s OK,” we relay to each other the day after the bombings. Robin was probably the first to speak with her. Any news, good or bad, is best to hear through her.

In between comforting clients, Elizabeth talks “Wizard of Oz” in the hallway, and she brings gifts just because your birthday is still 5 months off. Erin never seems less than poised, but when she is, you love her a little bit more. Especially with the blue lab coat that matches nothing she wears. Aviva sits on my lap and we agree that it’s “completely appropriate” when Marcie comments. Aviva tends to have perspective on things like my life. Marcie tells me or you or anyone how it is, and she’s usually right. Paula vibrates with enthusiasm while Shannon makes me laugh so much that I have to put my phone call on hold. Still, Kathryn works, seriously, and with her Minnesota/Georgia accent. She’s the only person I know whose eyes do show her feelings, and she’s the better version of myself.

It’s a clinic family.

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