Sunday, June 14, 2015

In which my mother unwittingly steered me into apostasy

When my family lived in the Bay Area, I was the only Mormon kid in the school. But this was never a big deal; I had friends who went to other churches and I had friends who didn't go to church at all. 

In the middle of 4th grade, we moved to Exeter, CA (a small town in the Central Valley) because my mom had found a job in nearby Lindsay. Why did we move to Exeter if her job was in Lindsay? Well, we didn't have a home yet, and Exeter had a fairly nice motel that offered rooms with kitchenettes. I think the idea was that we could prepare our own meals, but my mother never once cooked in that kitchenette. I ate cafeteria lunches at school and we went out for supper every night. (I remember that I used the stove once to make Jiffy Pop popcorn, which Mom had never bought before because she thought it was an expensive, gimmicky product especially since we had a popcorn maker. But I think she was feeling bad about making her kid live in a motel so this purchase assuaged her guilt. To be honest, I didn't think living there was a bad thing. I got to talk to my mom until one or both of us fell asleep, we could watch TV in bed, and someone else cleaned for you everyday! And yes, after making Jiffy Pop once, I agreed with her assessment of that product. The results were not like the commercials! Bah.)

Near the end of the school year, my mom found a house in Lindsay and so we moved there. I am not sure why she bought a house there instead of Exeter because she hated Lindsay. The commute wasn't far but the fog in area is really bad, so maybe driving was just too stressful. Or perhaps it was because housing was cheaper in Lindsay than in Exeter. Like I said, she hated Lindsay and was appalled that I had to go to the local public school, so she convinced my father to pay for me to go to a private school by telling him (and this is a real quote) "the elementary school here is so bad that kids leave the school either pregnant or drug-addicts." (I personally believe she didn't want me to go to the public school because she was racist and didn't want me mingling with a population that was more than 50% Hispanic. Also because she felt that any private school is automatically prestigious and therefore "better" than any public school. This same time period also coincided with the worsening of my mother's mental illness and the beginning of long bouts of rather erratic behavior.)

You would think she'd sent me to a Catholic school, as Jesuit teaching is well regarded even amongst non-Catholics. That would be a logical thing to do.  But whether it was an issue of cost or the racist thing again, or because I said I didn't want to wear a uniform (actually, I didn't want to wear a short skirt, which seemed to be a part of a girl's uniform of any private school), my mother instead enrolled me in a Seventh Day Adventist school. 

So once again, I was the only Mormon kid in school, but this time I was surrounded exclusively by Seventh Day Adventists. I went there for two and a half years (when we moved again) and my fate was sealed during lunch time on my first day when I unwrapped my ham sandwich. 

You do know that Seventh Day Adventists are vegetarian for religious reasons, right?

to be continued... 

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