Spring 1997

Somehow I managed to skate through the holidays without incident. I didn’t get in trouble for having a big head because of presents, or being happy. I am about to turn 14, and I have survived my 13th year, in which I got my first taste of being in a big “lesson”. The lesson in itself is a little hard to explain; I got in trouble because I was happy and excited to be a teenager. I have now gotten through that lesson and asked Jesus to come into my heart (for the second time in my life).

The next step was to get baptized. It was surprisingly easy, I just said I wanted to do it and my parents set up a time with the pastors. The church had a hot tub in the basement, which didn’t seem weird at the time but now it seems really strange, and that is where they did the baptizing. Baptizing is such a weird thing to me. It feels very intimate. You and the pastor get into some sort of water for dipping, he asks you some questions, then tips you backwards under the water, and pulls you back up. It is a metaphor for putting on the armor of Christ, and showing your trust. At least, that is what they taught in this group.

Our school is very small. Jenn is the only girl my age. I am afraid to talk to the older girls because I will be told that I am trying to be on their level. I am afraid to talk to the younger girls because I will be told that I am trying to be in charge of them. Jenn and I hang out a lot. I like her. She is a little boy crazy. I either avoid them, or try to fit in with them. I am afraid of boys after that movie Pastor W made me watch. I do not want what happened to Jodie Foster to happen to me. Jenn must not have watched that movie. I am also a little jealous of Jenn. She is so fearless. She hangs out with the older girls and the younger girls and never gets in trouble. I feel like they have somehow cheated the system, and I haven’t figured it out yet. Most of the time I just feel lonely.  Jenn likes one of the W boys who is exactly her age. She says that when they graduate they are going to get married and have kids. She talks about their wedding and it sounds like she has it all figured out. I am puzzled, as I have never sat around thinking about my wedding. The only dress I have ever liked was worn by Buttercup in the movie The Princess Bride. I have pictured my life as a grown-up: I would live in a log cabin on a large piece of land, with many horses and a few dogs. In the picture I would be married I suppose, but that wasn’t the focus. I liked the picture I had in my head of me driving my old truck down a country road with a dog in the seat next to me. I didn’t have much to say when she talked about getting married, so I would just listen.

I am called into the office during school. I am instantly nervous, with a ticklish feeling in my tummy. The principal’s tone of voice didn’t sound mad, that’s a good sign. As I enter the office, I see two boys already sitting, as well as both pastors, my principal, and principal’s wife. Both boys are my age. One is my friend, Henry, and the other is one of Pastor W’s sons, Charlie. Charlie is the next brother in line from Ted. Nobody looks mad, but both boys look nervous. I wonder what I did to call this meeting? Pastor W starts talking. He tells us that we are all getting older, and are going to want to start thinking about relationships. Pastor W says that it is not good to have too many relationships, and the ones we choose now should be the ones we have forever. This is a new concept to me, especially since I am not allowed to start dating until I am 16. Then he turns to me. He tells me that I need to choose between Henry and Charlie. Who would I like to marry? I feel totally put on the spot. I really like Henry, but I would not want to marry him. Charlie is cute and quiet. And I think that if I get involved with him, that maybe Ted will leave me alone. I wonder if I choose Charlie maybe I would not get in as much trouble all the time. I think for a long time, knowing that I have to choose one in order to get out of this office. I say that I choose Charlie. I have the feeling that I would have gotten in trouble either way, but no one was happy with my choice. There were a lot of questions like “why didn’t you choose Henry, do you think you are better than he is?” I am scrambling for answers. I don’t remember much else about the conversation, but I was eventually allowed back to my desk.

That is how I became betrothed to Charlie.




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