childhood memories

TOUCHED

I walked into my brother’s shop after class.  I was an adult “non-traditional” student in my early 30s at the local university.  I remember riding in the back seat of our family car as a young girl, and while the campus was a fixture in our small town, it seemed a world away.  I wondered what it would be like, to be one of the young women there and yet miraculously for me,  I   became one of them.

My brother asked “how was class,’ and we exchanged small talk when he began discussing the difficulties his son was having in school:

“You know, Dad and I were talking the other day, and we agreed you and Daniel have a touch of the same thing…”

I was shocked. I didn’t respond verbally.  Silence is my usual response.

Now I can see that even then, I had a lot to prove, though education was for my own sake, for my own desire for learning.  But simultaneously there was a tab to pay, a peg to move one step ahead in effort find myself on home base. Obviously, I am not even in the game, or at least, that is how I felt in that moment.  His words hit a nerve- for all my learning, for all I have overcome, his view of me was incredulous.  Not only that, he and my dad seemed to agree on the fact.

I’ve always admired my brother.  If he had self-doubt, he didn’t show it.  He was always of good humor, level-headed, an intelligent, straight A student and when we were kids, engrossed in sports.  I thought he had the better of things  being a boy, and for a short time, I dressed like him, wanted to play on his ball teams- even one summer I practiced catching ball thinking I would join his all-boys team.   I wanted the acceptance, admiration and success he had. I tried to model myself after him, and he never knew.  We had many fun times together.

(Did he really say that?)

“You know, Dad and I were talking the other day, and we agreed you and Daniel have a touch of the same thing…”

A touch.

A little thing resulting in a great divide.

I am sure he was referring not only to our similar learning difficulties, but also our personalities and behaviors to some degree.  When I was around my nephew’s age, I experienced what the family jokingly refers now as “the dark years.”

I can laugh at that most of the time, but they truly were dark, and back then it wasn’t very funny.  I think his ability to classify it in such creative, dramatic terms is the kicker.  Most of the time I laughed, but one time I responded, saying they actually were very dark and I wasn’t in the mood to laugh about it.

First Impressions

As an adult, I have experienced faith, skepticism, questions and doubts,  agnosticism and a return to faith, though my faith looks different than before.  It lead me into some interesting places which can be read about in my public profile:         http://en.gravatar.com/joyaisthorpedesign       

I was not raised with a particular belief in God nor was I raised in Church, though I did occasionally  glimpse into the world of religion.  Here are some first impressions:

Since Childhood, Faith was summed up in a portrait illustration of Jesus hanging in my parent’s bedroom. His kind eyes seemed to follow me around, and it was nice to think he might be watching over things and thinking well of me.  He also hid in the pages of the Family Bible. After exhausting all forms of entertainment, my siblings and I knew a dull moment could be temporarily forgotten by hauling the monstrous book from the shelf and scanning over illustrations:

-Moses carted away in a makeshift boat;
-men in dresses, making their way with crooked sticks;
-Angry Lions, Disarmed Soldiers, Walls of water…

and there he’d be in his underwear, arms stretched out on two slabs of wood with his head bowled over.  looked pretty sad to me.
When I was around 6 or so, mom took us to a local Baptist church for a brief period of time where I received a charm bracelet. Each scripture verse memorized was worth one metal charm:  a  cameo in honor of the disciples, each whose metal cheek bore an engraved scripture reference.

When the memorization program ended, we had a party in the church basement with a special guest: “Dr. Shock,” the 1970’s late- night host of scary movies.  Protestant Churches are always using whatever attraction to draw the people in, and while we probably weren’t allowed to watch him at home, there he was in the flesh, and what kid could resist a man in black wearing bad eye-liner??  His swaggering voice invited us to join him in the front of the room where he would sign his autograph on the inside  of our Bibles.

“Mom, can we go…

no…

please?

NO…

I WANT TO…

I said NO!”

We took our place behind the other sheep,   holy book in hand with the words of Jesus written in red-  the grand prize for memorizing a bit of the content.
We broke at least one of the commandments that day.

Incidentally, I still have it – Signature intact.

A few years later, I attended a vacation Bible school hosted by my grandmother’s church.
I remember the classroom, the self-assured teacher, a classmate with a plaid dress, red Kool-Aid and being incredibly disoriented. I don’t remember any of the class content, because I was too busy trying to comprehend instructions. Which language is this teacher using, anyway? What did she say? It sounds like English, but something sifts and jumbles every word.

My Grandmother  lived in a Senior Citizen’s apartment complex, and one of her upstairs neighbors who wore a muumuu and beehive hairstyle was a hard-core evangelist.

She caught my eyes when I looked up at her from my Grandmother’s porch steps, and asked excitedly:

“Are you saved, girl? You know Jesus?”

Moments like this produced a mix of unexplained shame and curiosity.

My grandmother interrupted, shooing away the neighbor. She then looked at me through her screen door and said:
“Don’t pay any attention to her. She’s a nut.”