It’s so easy to shop now! Episode 5.

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It used to be so dang hard to shop! Back when I lived at home and was going to college (and having to pass endless parent tests before wearing anything anywhere), nothing in any store was quite right, or fit all the requirements: loose enough, long enough, long enough sleeves, high enough neck, loose enough around the butt, loose enough under the bust. And I basically could never wear anything from any store “as is”: everything had to have camis underneath, or sweaters over the top – and if everything was fine with a dress except it was an inch over the knees, bam. That dress was useless. My mom would crawl around me swatting at my knees with the side of her hand to see if she could see any knee. And if she could, that was the end of that dress.

I used to look at cute dresses in stores and automatically catalog all the things that were wrong with them. “That dress would be fine BUT….”

Now it’s so much easier! I can look at a dress like this one and think “THAT DRESS IS CUTE.” No buts! And if I think it’s cute and I have the money to spend on it, I get it. Those are the only rules!

liliana plum

I love being alive.

Anyway, I believe I’m still in the middle of 2000. Sometime in the summer, we were at Máhanaxar and we saw the pastor’s teenage daughter, Arwen, getting ready to leave for a weekend youth activity. She had on knee-length shorts and had her backpack and looked so pretty and excited. I thought it would be fun to be her. L read my mind (he often did) and said “Next year that’ll be you, Kay.” Mom looked at Dad and then said “Eh….we’ll see about that” in a funny voice.

Summertime: We went to Numenor Camp for the second time so Dad could film their next promo video. I was so ecstatic because it would be a whole week where we could eat corn dogs and hot dogs because THAT’S ALL THERE WAS TO EAT. Camp food tasted sooooo good. Unfortunately the big waterslide was a liability and they had had to close it down. My brother L starred in this promo video, which was a Jumanji knockoff about a board game that transported children to Numenor, and I was jealous. (Dad explained to us what Jumanji was.)

We also went to visit Grandma and Grandpa Y in St. Louis MO that summer. Our cousins Eomer and Eowyn were allowed to come over and play with us, but we could not go into their house because they played video games and Eomer had an electric guitar. Grandma Y had a container of Werther’s Originals on her kitchen mantelpiece and it was a constant battle with mom to be allowed to eat one. We also could not go to Grandma and Grandpa’s church with them on Sunday because it was Evangelical Free and they had bad music there.

The grandparents were always trying to give us food we were not allowed to eat and take us places we were not allowed to go. Mom said that Grandma Y was very manipulative. She said that Grandma X just didn’t know any better.

September: I turned 12 and had a teapot-shaped cake. I got a family of dollhouse people for my birthday and made them an apartment in the middle cabinet of my bedroom hutch. I had a small wedding ceremony for the doll parents so it would not be a sin for them to share a bed.

At this point we were Máhanaxar members but things were not going well. Once I turned twelve and got to be youth group age, everything changed.

It was apparently all right for me to go to Sunday School and Awana with the other children when I was under 12, but once I counted as a “teenager,” it was suddenly a sin for me to do things with other teenagers. The pastors wanted me to be in the church youth group and go to the teen activities, and Mom and Dad refused. (I realized that this was what they’d been talking about in the bathroom for all these years.) Mom and Dad started fighting constantly with Pastor Bombadil and Pastor Goldberry.

I heard a lot of talk about how the concepts of “friends” and “teenagers” were bad, peer pressure was bad, and God wanted families to be together all the time, in church and out. “Your brothers and sisters should be your friends.” I wanted to be normal and be in youth group so badly, but I really did try to support my parents and make myself believe they were right. It was hard though.

Dad was still in seminary and the idea was we would stick this out long enough for him to finish his degree and then he’d start his own church. He’d started getting this magazine called “Patriarch” and he went to a “Family Integrated Church Conference” while we were in St. Louis. (These are Doug Phillips’ people.)

During the fall, when Awana started again, since I wasn’t doing any activities with my own age group, and I was too old for Awana, they let me be a helper with the younger Awana kids, the Sparks, and listen to their verses. I loved this.

Sometime later in the fall, or maybe second semester/early winter, Pastor Goldberry called me into his office and told me I couldn’t help in Awana any more because my parents wouldn’t let me be in youth group. I think this was the moment where I realized I was really truly an outcast. I came home that evening and hung up my Awana uniform in the back of the closet and said, “Well, I guess I am a woman without a country.” I thought I was very clever to be making a literary reference.

I got amazing dollhouse furniture for Christmas that year. The apartment spilled over to the two side cabinets of my hutch, and it now included a teeny tiny dollar store keyboard that actually played like an electric piano.

To be continued!

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