On Thin Ice
On Thin Ice
Adrienne's life in Amsterdam was little more than typical for any single woman of 28. She frequented a few pubs and knew enough of the regulars there to spend a few hours drinking, flirting, or going dancing at a disco with cohorts from the bar. You Can Go Your Own Way, sang Fleetwood Mac on their album Rumours released that year; the song reflected her thoughts perfectly in 1977.
Things were easy in the quiet beauty of Amsterdam's canal district. Adrienne felt confident walking home after a night out, but mostly she bicycled, no matter the time of close - Amsterdam was very safe.
Yet, something was missing in her life. Her vacations were exciting enough, although she had a bit of a job finding a travelling companion. She had seen so much of the continent that she could not think of any particular place she wanted to visit. She had seen pretty much all that she'd care to see of the European landscape.
Most of her friends had found love. Every year she had fewer single friends to join her for a night on the town on the spur of the moment - partners and kids having appeared on the scene - so she was generally bar-hopping alone, visiting the regular places, meeting her café contacts there.
She had survived two long-term relationships, or more accurately, medium-term relationships: four years with each partner had seemed all she could handle. In the end, the results had been unsatisfactory. Her last boyfriend, Ethan, had broken her heart a few years back, and she had needed time to recover from that disaster. He might have been the reason she had decided to remain single.
Adrienne's strict religious upbringing had completely lacked any kind of formal sexual education, not even within the school system. Combine that with a fear for pregnancy closer to a phobia, and anyone might probably understand what had prevented her from experimenting much with sexuality before meeting Ethan. In fact, her ingenuousness and worrying had also seriously affected her first relationship, with Harry.
She had met Harry, when she was still in high school; he was an interesting man in his late twenties and called himself a poet. The year was 1969. Harry took her under his wing, was gentle with her and did not demand much. Harry had shoulder-long dark, curly hair, big brown eyes and at various times sported some facial hair as well. He seemed to be respected by his friends, always seeking his advice on many issues. Her parents refused to meet Harry, as they saw him as a danger to their daughter's future; they called him a hippy. Through her choice to date him and later, to start living together, she alienated her parents from her, as they thought this conduct was completely unacceptable.
Harry also introduced her to the Dutch Association for Sexual Reform, NVSH in Dutch, which provided birth control services to its members. The membership fee was low, subsidized by the general health care plan; it was set low intentionally, so anybody could access birth control without further costs and there would, hopefully, be fewer teen pregnancies in the country. Before the Pill, Adrienne had always stopped her boyfriends from going beyond heavy petting in stolen moments and had never allowed going all the way. Pregnancy was Adrienne's great fear, as it was for any girl at that time. It was the great shame people whispered about in her school and in her church community, leading to the end of any future, for a girl . Although abortion was an option, and legal, it was still difficult to access. Not many young women knew how to get one, afraid to ask their family doctor. Common gossip was: "Have you heard? So and so has to get married." Has meant, she is pregnant . A wedding was mandatory. If she were not married, the shame would be unfathomable.
It was not the life to which Adrienne aspi