Food

Before we moved, Mom and Dad never worried about food. There was a drastic change after the move. We started going to the food bank frequently and hardly to the store. We froze almost everything we got from the food bank. Even the milk. I was aware of this situation, because Mom really didn’t like going to the food bank. She seemed very stressed every time we had to go. She looked so sad. Next to the food bank was a clothing closet. This is where we got our clothes for school. I do remember being unhappy about this. I am sure that I voiced it to Mom. I was used to her taking us shopping for clothes. Once we were there it was kind of fun though, like a treasure hunt.

I would get in trouble from the pastors when I voiced my unhappiness about these things. I was told that I thought I was better than everyone else. Up until that point, I hadn’t thought about anyone else. I was having a hard time adjusting to so many changes. I didn’t understand that we didn’t have any money. And all of Mom and Dad’s money was going to the church. The church leaders took everyone’s money and left families with none to even feed their children. You could say that the parents had a choice. In a way you would be correct. The W pastor would tell stories about how his family didn’t have a lot of food in the past. They would dig in dumpsters for food, and there was an infamous story about how all they had once was taco shells and ketchup. So that is what the kids ate for dinner. But “God saw them through” those situations. See how God brought them through (living off of other families?)? He would do the same for all the other members of the church. We had to go through the hard times first, like they did.

We had a system: Go to the food bank, hurry home, put everything we could in the freezer, and arrange it with the newest items in the back with oldest things in the front of the freezer. We knew that once we thawed the frozen milk we had two days to drink it. That was easy since there were four kids in the house. I started to feel possessive over the food that we had. If any of the teenagers who lived in the trailer came over, I would hope they wouldn’t eat any of our food. I was worried we would run out and I didn’t know what Mom and Dad would do if that happened.  Sometimes Jamie would bring fast food home for Jenn and TJ. Jamie worked at Taco Bell. Jenn would share with me. I would give some to Brother. Sister was too little. I felt guilty taking some away from her, but we had promised to take care of each other. I trusted her, I didn’t feel possessive of food around her or TJ. They were our “family”.  Samantha (babysitter) taught me how to make the most of our resources. She showed me how to make rice, potatoes, cookies, and pies. She showed me how to add frozen vegetables and eggs to top ramen to make it more like a meal. We also started a garden together (just flowers). I had always wanted a garden and it was a good distraction.

Jenn and I are eleven years old. Samantha and Renee (M pastor’s daughter) were fourteen. We looked up to the older girls a lot. They were just starting to wear makeup and Jenn and I really wanted to wear makeup. All of the women in the church worked for a direct sales cosmetic company. Some of my favorite memories from as long as I can remember; from the Carnation house and every house; has been to watch my Mom put on makeup. I would stare at her, she is so beautiful anyway. But the careful way she would apply the shadow, liner, blush, and mascara. She would curl her hair. The final touch was lipstick. It was a beautiful transformation and I could not wait until the day that I could do the same for myself.

Mom was driving Renee, Jenn, and I in the car one day. Renee has this bright pink lip crayon. Positively Pink. I am watching her apply it to her lips. It looks awesome. Renee asks Mom if she can let me try it on. Mom said yes, I was so excited. I carefully applied it, Renee coached me through. I loved it! I could not stop staring at my reflection in the car window as we drove. We got home, I couldn’t wait to show Dad. Before we got in the house, the M pastor saw us get out of the car. He asked where I had gotten the lip color. I told him that it was Renee’s and Mom had said it was okay. Then I looked at Mom and Renee. I had the realization. I had said the wrong thing. They looked suddenly sad and nervous. The M pastor was not happy about the situation for some reason. He was yelling at them. He took away Renee’s lip crayon. She was crying. He said she was trying to be older than she was letting me try the crayon. That Mom should not have let me do that. I felt awful. Renee didn’t get makeup privileges for the rest of the summer. She didn’t seem to mind, but I knew she was sad and that it was my fault. I was also beginning to question everything my parents did. The M pastor said Mom was irresponsible letting me wear makeup. I should probably start watching out for myself a little more. I didn’t want Mom or Dad to get in trouble, and I wasn’t sure if I could trust them.

~E

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