Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Endless winters when the dreams would freeze

The summer between 8th grade and high school, was the summer I went to Florida.  I wasn't sure it would actually happen.  Truthfully, living in Nebraska, where the oceans were multiple days drive away?  We didn't travel that far, and I had never seen an ocean before.  Florida and California both seemed like exotic locations.

But I had an aunt & uncle living there.  They had a 3-year-old, and another on the way.  I could buy a round-trip ticket, and be their au pair for the summer.  Eight weeks, and I only got yelled at once.  (I don't count my cousin, she was only three.)  It seemed like heaven.

I've talked about Mercy.  I'm coming to realize that the emphasis on educating the whole person... the emphasis on art was MEANT to help us find ways to express ourselves.  Meant to help us learn how to speak up, find our voice.  I don't think they used the term, but courage does seem to fit.

The time I bruised my chin, Freshman year, I had one friend that I could call.  She offered to come get me.  I didn't think about makeup the next day, but after everyone reacted, I tried covering it up. The fourth reason I don't normally wear makeup.  Because I don't need to.  I have nothing to hide anymore.

I'm not sure my father liked Mercy all that much.  I'd like to think that they were still worried about the expense.  He kept talking about how he thought I would do better in a public school.  No, more than talk.  Any stupid adolescent argument, my rabbits and Mercy would be... brought up.

After my Freshman year ended, I spent a day at Bellevue East, with a student, much as I had done for Mercy, Duchesne, and Cathedral before high school.  Bellevue West didn't offer the "day on campus" shadow option, but they did let us come tour the facilities.  I had already been there for Girl Scout lock-ins more than once.

Mrs. Hancock lived down the street from us.  She had two daughters.  I didn't interact with the older girl much.  I got the impression that she was older than me, but I'm not sure how much older.  The younger daughter was my sister's age, and we hung out together more.  They had taken in one of our rabbits, the year I bred them.

My Freshman year of high school, Mrs. Hancock took on our Girl Scout troop.  That was the year my sister and I were both Cadettes.  We had a lot of fun.  I had only been to about 1 meeting in 8th grade. But as a Freshman I was back, and it was awesome.  We had a Mary Kay makeover one night.  Another night, we had a sleepover, and watched Beaches.

The summer between my freshman and sophomore year, many things happened.  One of them, was that the Hancocks moved.  But before they moved out, Mrs. Hancock sat down with me one day, and told me that I could become anything I wanted to be.  That still means a lot to me.

My parents sat us down for a conversation that summer, too.  To let us know that Hi-Tek was on the way.  But I couldn't tell my friends until about the time school started.

One other thing happened that summer.  My father was passed over for promotion the second time.  The Cold War was over, the Gulf War was over, the military was cutting back, and they weren't going to keep him.

As part of our Sophomore class retreat, the teachers gave us some time to stand up and talk to each other on our own.  I was still very introverted, I waited until almost last before standing up, and oh I was shaking so badly. I was so scared, and I talked about the job changes, the baby, and maybe having to move.

Hi-tek was born a month early, on a Sunday morning.  After we got to see him, Dad took the older 4 of us to see Star Trek VI.  The next day, after school, Mom brought him down to the Choir room to pick me up.  One or two weeks later, at home, I opened the door to find the sophomore class officers bringing a load of baby supplies for us.

Both years I attended, Mercy held a mini-course day.  The day was broken into four sessions, and a number of programs were lined up.  Some time before the event, we would get a listing of the options, and asked to pick our 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice for each session.

As a freshman, I alternated between science sessions and crafts.  I don't remember the science sessions anymore, but we made ribbon roses, and I learned a little bit about knitting.

Sophomore year was different.  I still got my two science sessions: one was a chemistry demo out of Creighton University.  The other, a telescope had been set up to project sunspots.  But I'm pretty sure that if the other two sessions were on my list at all, they were my third choice.  Women's self-defense, with a local Tae Kwon Do instructor.  He had us break a board with a simple foot-stomp.  And a session on sexual assault, some training on what to say if it happens to a friend.

That was when I started looking at options for martial arts training on base.  If I wanted to train, I'd have to pay for the lessons myself.  While my babysitting business was doing fairly well, I wasn't comfortable committing ~$80/mo to training.  Family policy had long been that 50% of my earnings went straight to my savings account.  Another 10% went to the church.  So I would have had to earn $200/mo, in order to have $80 of spending money.

Mercy looked out for me.

Part of Mercy's negotiated tuition program included what they called a work-study program.  Some of the students worked over the summer, others stayed after school to erase chalkboards and straighten desks.  I hadn't done that as a freshman or sophomore.  My sister earned the same scholarship I did, but when Mom's job was not great and my father was searching... In order for my sister and I both to attend Mercy, we both started work-study over the summer.

I say started, because we didn't finish the week.  Dad got a job offer, in Indiana.  We discussed it over breakfast, which was a disaster.  My sister and I went off to work.  But as I was cleaning the window, I replayed the conversation, and realized what they were going to do.  We were going to move back to Indiana.  I would have to leave Mercy.

Oh yes.  Hi-Tek was about 7 or 8 months old, and Dear Brother #4 was on the way.

* Post title from a Meatloaf song.  I won't post it here.