St. Louis, New Jersey

I’m originally from Charlotte, NC. I was born in a little coastal town on the outer-banks of North Carolina, and moved to Charlotte to live with my “new” family (I’m adopted) when I was a relatively young child. My family was upper middle class… we took the nice vacations every year to Disney World, Washington, DC, the Space Station in Alabama, etc. We were close enough to the ocean to make day trips (or at the very least, short weekend trips). I never imagined I would find myself anywhere other than North Carolina. It had everything- the ocean, the mountains, historical landmarks, big cities, small towns, and the weather was awesome year-round. Plus, my dad’s alma mater, UNC was there. No way was I ever leaving.

We lived in a large house in a nice little neighborhood. We had several cars, and my older brother was driving a nice new Cadillac- at 17.

I have 3 brothers, one of which is about the same age as me (like me, he was adopted). Another is older- he was getting ready to graduate high school as I was finishing up 7th grade; the other was 5 years my junior.

For the purpose of this story, it was the end of 7th grade. I’d been having some trouble in school… fell in with the wrong crowd, skipped class, stole a car, got kicked off the school bus for fighting, and was otherwise terrorizing my parents. I think I was technically failing the grade itself.

On this particular night, my parents decided to take us to dinner, which was rare on a school night, in the middle of the week. My oldest brother had to work, so it was just my 2 other brothers, my parents and myself that would be going. They took us to a nice place, and as soon as the waitress brought our drinks, my mom looked at my dad and said, “Well, should we tell them?”

Uh oh. Tell “them” what?

My dad smiles and says, “No, why don’t we let them guess?”

Immediately I said, “Oh no. You’re pregnant”

My mother says, emphatically, “I better not be”

Ok, so what is it? I was stumped… are they finally making good on their promise to send me to military school?

I decided to take another stab- “Are we moving?”

Mom says, “Yes, but where?”

I’m getting annoyed. That’s it? That’s the big news? We’ve moved 3 times in the past 8 years, so what else is new? We always go to a bigger house, in a nicer neighborhood, but our school district always stays the same. Who cares?

So I say, “I don’t know, where?”

That’s when she drops the bomb. “St. Louis”

Where the hell is that? I ask, “St. Louis, New Jersey?”

Mom laughs, and dad just sits there (likely pondering how he raised such a dumb daughter). She corrects me by saying, “No, no. St. Louis, Missouri”

I’m dumbfounded… really? Almost immediately, I realize that this could be my ticket. This could change my life; I’m moving far, far away, and no one will know one thing about me that I don’t want them to. How sweet is that?!?!

My brother, the one that’s about my age, seemed devastated by this news. He immediately, without saying a word, puts his head on the table and starts to sob. Wuss.

My other brother, my youngest, is the most excited of all. He smacks his fist on the table, yelling, “Holy shit!” (in a positive way). His hand hits his fork, sending it flying across the room, hitting our approaching waitress squarely in the face.

Finally, I think to ask… “Why?”

My dad takes over the conversation by saying, “I’ve been called”

I’m confused. “Called by who? Like on the telephone?”

“No” he says, “I’ve been called to the ministry”

Ministry? What the hell’s a ministry? Like church or something? My dad’s gonna be a nun?

Turns out, yes. Exactly like church (not so much like a nun though). My father, at 45 years of age, was giving up his lucrative job as the VP of Finance for a prestigious healthcare company to become a minister. I then learned that in just a few weeks we would be packing everything, and moving from our vast home in Charlotte, NC to a tiny 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment in St. Louis. In fact, it wasn’t a real apartment we’d be living in. It was a dorm, on campus at Eden Seminary. He would spend his days earning his Masters of Divinity- for 3 full years- and then become an ordained pastor. From there, he’d be assigned a church, and where we’d end up is anyone’s guess.

Well clearly, it was time to buckle up and hang on for dear life. We were embarking on a hell of an adventure…

Geez. Talk about your midlife crisis.

 

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