Look at my sinful shoulder straps! It is very strange to me now to think that this shirt would have been considered incredibly scandalous. (My maxi skirts from JCPenney are finally supposed to get here tomorrow, by the way. I’m very excited.)
The next part of my story feels pivotal to me. This was really the turning point between the “before” and “after” part of my childhood. Everything earlier was leading up to this, and everything afterwards is because of this. I believe we are in the midst of 2002 at this point.
I finished my dollhouse bathroom, which had to be in the pointy attic because there was no room for a bathroom downstairs. I had found a ceramic bathtub at Salvation Army, and a little resin sink with a mirror at Goodwill. Around Christmastime Grandpa X gave me a gag magnet that was a little toilet with an opening lid: when you pressed the handle it made a real flushing noise, which was incredible. For a plunger, I found a red fake cherry with a long stand-up stem, and Elizabeth Orc made me a wonderful crocheted bath mat. I was jealous of her crochet skills, but the only thing I could crochet was a long, long, long chain of meaningless loops.
This winter, I started going to the “adult” Sunday school class with dad and mom, because I couldn’t go to the teen stuff. I wore jumpers and hair-sprayed my bangs to be poofy like Mom’s, and I tried hard to be an adult. Dad and mom kept having terrible arguments and long secret meetings with the pastors at Máhanaxar. We and the Orcs and the Balrogs made all kinds of trouble from what I understand.
Once I went to Sunday school with dad and saw a reflection of him and me in the big glass church doors. We didn’t look like a dad and a little girl walking together any more, we looked like a man and a woman. I didn’t feel like a woman, so that was weird.
Now that we were on the Weston A. Price diet, we couldn’t eat normal oatmeal. Every night we had to soak a pot of oats with water and yogurt, and cook them in the morning. This made them really sour. With the Hallelujah Diet, at least we could have normal oatmeal. The good news was that normal oatmeal was now so bad for us that, if someone forgot to soak the oats the night before, we got to have eggs for breakfast rather than risk eating un-soaked oatmeal. The bad news was that the eggs were organic and fertile and sometimes had blood or embryos in them. I figured you win some, you lose some.
Birthday cakes were also difficult because they had to be made from sprouted grain and raw honey and they could not have regular frosting or candy decorations. For frosting we had to use whipped raw cream from Lotho Sackville-Baggins, and food coloring was bad so the frosting could be one of only three colors: white, slightly cocoa tinted, or pale pink from beet juice. I was the cake artist in our house and I got very creative with decorations made from buttons, marbles and Lego pieces. Surprisingly, no one ingested any of these.
That spring, we finally left (were asked to leave) Máhanaxar after one long last meeting with the pastors. The Orcs and the Balrogs stayed for the time being. I think Dad asked them not to leave with us because he didn’t want to be a “sheep stealer.”
After that last Sunday, Dad called a family meeting, sat us on the couch and said that from now on we would be having our own “church” in the living room with just our family. Maybe some other families would come later. I started to cry and they asked why, and I said “Because it sounds so wonderful.” I knew I’d be in trouble if I told them what I really thought.
Our first “service” was in June. Dad wasn’t finished with seminary – he never did finish seminary. It was bizarre. We all dressed up and sat in chairs in a semicircle in the living room, and then Dad knelt down by his chair and began to cry. Deep throbbing gut sobs. We asked him why and he said “Because God is giving me a spanking.” Then he preached a long, long sermon and gave us big clip binders called “Worship, Study and Service Journals.” We were supposed to fill out stuff in these journals, but after a while that sort of fell by the wayside.
All I remember about this summer is that I felt like my life was over and I started pulling out the curly hairs out of my head whenever I was reading. It felt good. I also had a huge crush on Shakespeare’s Brutus. Dad took me out in the car once and scolded me because he said he felt like my “spirit wasn’t really with the program.” I cried and said I would try harder to get with the program.
Sometime in June or July, I came to Mom and said I was experiencing some doubts about my salvation. She screamed that I was a wolf among the flock and I was going to be put on lock-down so I wouldn’t corrupt my brothers and sisters. I had to stay in my room for two days until I came out and said I was a Christian.
September: I turned 14. I don’t remember this birthday.
Sometime in the winter, the Balrogs left Máhanaxar and started to come to church in our living room with us instead. It must have been in the winter (I think February?) because their baby had a knitted hat on. This was a really landmark occasion because OMG REAL PEOPLE.
I was done with my dollhouse and after a while it went into the garage.
To be continued.