Back to Decatur

Today was an exciting whirlwind of an adventure.

Deb asked if Eleonore and I wanted to join her and Wolfie on a thrifting jaunt to Clinton.

I figured we should just go crazy, and go all the way to Decatur.
(All the pictures are courtesy of her and her artistic self! )

You see, I have this odd love affair with Decatur. I lived there from the time I was four to third grade and for my freshman year of college. Those are pretty pivotal years in the development of a memory, of a personhood, at least they were for me.

It was hard as we made every turn, and drove past every place to not share with Deb the story that accompanied the particular place or street. We did some pretty great thrifting, and the kiddos behaved quite well.

Eleonore & Wolfgang holding hands in the backseat! 

What was more valuable than any physical treasure, was the remembering. Remembering where I was when I first heard of the Iraq war starting on the radio in the car. Remembering the thrift store that my mother would buy me clothes from that I would despise because a peer had told me “only poor people wear thrift store clothes” and I had an incessant need to tell people where my clothing was from, so if I wore it, everyone was going to know it was second-hand. I was going to tell them.

The thing that stood out to me most about my time in Decatur were all my different “educational” experiences.

I was home schooled for Pre-School, went to Northwest Christian Academy for Kindergarten, and first grade, was home schooled for second grade and went back to Northwest Christian Academy for the first half of third grade, transferring to Glad Tidings Christian Academy after Christmas.

I kept harkening back to my first experience at Glad Tidings in 1993. I was excited about the change, I thought I had a good handle on things.

Little did I know.
I arrived to school in a hot pink corduroy jumper with a peter pan white blouse underneath. But here is the kicker. I had on Troll Santa Claus earrings, which were highlighted since I had a boy bowl haircut at the time. What went through my third grade mind that morning when I woke up? Perhaps I had a bit of a C’est La Vie attitude about the Santa Claus troll earrings. Or perhaps they were the one thing I had that I felt transcended into popular culture. I might have ridden in the Silhouette Spaceship Van to school thinking, “I’m the freaking s@#t, I have on troll earrings, you will all bow to my prowess”. Because who is ballsy enough to wear troll earrings to a Christian school? No one I had encountered in my short time on earth. . .
Everyone else was much cooler (ballsier) than I. I had failed miserably. At recess, Jaclyn Dick and Jessica Dixson came over and started talking to me. They were unmistakably the Queen Bee’s. And if I remember correctly, they had their ears pierced twice, and long hair down to their mid backs, GUESS sweatshirts with leggings and keds with scrunchy socks.
WHAT ARE SANTA CLAUS TROLL EARRINGS WHEN COMPARED TO THAT!?!
As they approached they began to probe.
“Do you like Grease?”
All possibilities began to run through my mind. Grease. . .food grease? My father saves bacon grease to pop his popcorn that he gets in a tub from the boyscouts in.
I gingerly raised my eyebrows and stated what I could muster as calmly as possible:
“Like in a frying pan?”
They could have been cruel at this point. I think they only giggled a little bit.
“No, the movie Grease! You will have to come over and watch it.”
“Oh yeah, that, sure. I’ve been meaning to see it. Just haven’t gotten around to it.”
I immediately boiled with seething rage at my parents. What was this travesty they had committed against me, that I didn’t know what this mysterious Grease Movie was?
I knew plenty about Star Wars, I knew plenty about anything Jim Henson had done. I knew the set list that the Moody Blues played at their Live at Red Rocks PBS special that I had been allowed to stay up for so I could “dance” behind the couch to “Nights in White Satin”.
None of these things could serve me now. I was like an Israelite who was ungrateful for her manna.
When I got older I would look back on this again and think, “you let your eight year old twirl to a song clearly about SEX but didn’t show her GREASE!?!?!?” For the love of God people!

When I did make the trek to Jaclyn Dick’s house, she enlightened me on such things as Nancy Drew Mysteries, Guns and Roses, and Madonna. I truly felt that I might go to hell for listening to Guns and Roses. Something about it seemed sacrilegious probably the skulls on the cassette tape cover. But Madonna’s Poppa Don’t Preach made sense to me.
I could justify that. My father was a pastor, and all of a sudden I had a song if I ever got pregnant and wanted to keep my baby.
Always a good thing for a third grader to hold in her back pocket.
I think I remember sharing that with my Father soon after I got home from Jaclyn’s for the first time. 
He was calm and sensical enough to not bar me from hanging out with her ever again.
I became one of the “popular” girls at Glad Tidings, despite my boy hair bowl cut and faux pas first day outfit. The way I did this? By telling everyone what sex was. 
Yep. 
In detail.
When I was in second grade, on a ride home from Champaign where my mother was working at the time, I had turned to her and nonchalantly asked:
“So what is this sex thing everyone is talking about?”
Being a nurse, the practical answer was to tell me what this sex thing was, in scientific and biological actuality. 
It was like social gold, this information. Everyone else was still getting the birds and the bees junk from their parents. But I, as I sat atop the jungle gym with my captivated audience shared terms, and procedures like a 10th grade gym teacher reluctantly does in required Sex-Ed. If memory serves me, I shared with much more vigor and tenacity, punctuating certain terms with added thrill and rising intonation.
But, every time I did this, I had to pay my penance. Remember that United Methodist guilt I talked about? Yeah, like being born into sin, I was born into that, and I confessed to my mother every day after school. 
Mid spring we found out we were moving to Arthur, Illinois.
 (That process is a different story for a different time.)
I remember going to my mother as a third grader, and saying:
“This is my chance, I will be able to have a fresh start and begin again. I won’t have to be known as the “Girl who always talks about sex”.”
The first day of fourth grade in Arthur came with great anticipation. To my credit, I think I made it to the second day of recess before I blurted out my wealth of information. It worked it’s charm, and I was a “popular” girl again.
As we’ve moved back to Bloomington, I haven’t had any instances where I have felt insecure to the point of needing to talk incessantly about sex in correct biological terms. I think with the presence of Eleonore it is pretty clear I hold that information.
But just in case you are with me, in a coffee shop, or at dinner, or at the mall and I suddenly start saying things like “COPULATION” or “GONAD”, simply calm me down, and reassure me that my identity is not found in my sexual knowledge, rather my identity is in Christ. 
As Henri Nouwen says:

The truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity and held safe in an everlasting embrace… We must dare to opt consciously for our chosenness and not allow our emotions, feelings, or passions to seduce us into self-rejection. 

This wasn’t something I was able to grasp as a second grader, or third grader, or fourth grader, or. . .ok, you get it.
But I think I am beginning to get it.
And it is one of the things that makes coming “Back to Bloomington” possible at all. 
peace to you,
meredith

Among our finds? 
This beauty for $1.00 which came with a polaroid camera and a leather case!
Perfect to capture new memories with.
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