Staying at the Salvation Army allowed us to be bumped up on the section eight waiting list, which helped us to move into a house a lot faster than the expected five years or more. Our “new” house was in Breckenridge Hills. The magic of having your own house is amazing. No, we didn’t own it, but it was on a block with houses that were similar, in a pretty nice neighborhood. No one lived there but us and I started to feel almost normal. No, I do not remember anyone or anything from Ritenour middle school I was still not interested in knowing nor allowing others to know me. All of my memories from that year were focused around my home, family, and this was the year I had my first boyfriend!
We moved into the house on Calvert avenue halfway into my seventh-grade year. My sister and I shared a room. The other two rooms were for my brother and mom, and one bathroom for us all. The best part about this house to me was the yard, long drive way, and the basement. We had furniture vouchers for the Salvation Army which allowed us to get most of the necessary pieces like beds, sofas, tables and whatnot. None of it was new but I could care less I had my own bed that I got to sleep in every night! We also got a bunch of Christmas gifts from the Salvation Army or Toys for Tots or some program. It worked out well for my sister and brother, but I guess there was a mix up and the folks in the program thought I was a boy! I got boy stuff. Footballs, basketballs, and a bunch of other stuff I had no interest in, but the kidos were good and that’s what mattered.
About a few months into staying in the house we, got word that one of my uncles had gotten beat up really bad and needed a place to stay and some help with recovery. When my uncle Arthur arrived, we had to wheel him down the driveway and into the basement. Both of his arms and legs were broken, his front teeth were knocked out, and he had a big Frankenstein gash that had been stitched up along the side of his head. He looked like something out of a movie with all four limbs in a cast in a wheel chair drinking food through a straw. I never asked him what happened I knew better, you couldn’t just go up to a grown up and ask “so ummm who beat your ass like this?! And what in the hell did you do to cause it?!” Remember my uncles were all crazy so I knew HE did something that led to his current condition. I couldn’t ask, I would have to eavesdrop and get all the info. Basically, from what I could make out, with my ear pressed to a glass on the wall, was that he owed some dudes money for who knows what, definitely something illegal, and didn’t pay so they beat him nearly to death. My mom took care of him mostly, I don’t remember much about his care I know he got better pretty quick and began setting the basement up like a home theater. He got old movie posters and cardboard movie promo cutouts from the video rental store nearby. He had a couch a TV, VCR, and stereo set up. He had lots of movies and albums and he also “hooked” up the cable so we had all the movie channels. I didn’t really talk with him much honestly, I have never had must trust in men. I know it sounds crazy but, in the back of my mind I always felt that men were attracted to me in a sexual way from a very young age. Actually, I can’t recall a time when I didn’t feel like that. My uncle never did anything inappropriate (except tickle you until you nearly peed your pants!! I hated that) and never said anything that made me uncomfortable, but he was a man. I wasn’t taking any chances, so I kept my distance.
That summer before eighth grade, my aunt Andrea gave us an above ground pool and my mom and uncle set it up in the back! I was excited until I became familiar with my moms teaching methods for swimming, yup the good old throw you in and you better not drown, or I’ll whoop you method! Things were good. Close to the end of summer I met Sheldon, he was an older boy that lived around the corner from me. I had never seen him before because he was in high school (I was going into the eighth grade and I think he was going into the tenth that year). I don’t remember any of the details of how we met or how he became my boyfriend, I just know he did. We didn’t do much, just walk around the neighborhood talking and holding hands. My mom knew about it and was ok with us sitting on the porch, but he was never allowed inside the house. I have no idea what we talked about, but we did a lot of talking and at some point, we kissed. I never felt that I was in love with Sheldon, but he was very sweet, and I probably would have been had we stayed around longer. We moved to Kirkwood (well Meacham park) half way through eighth grade.
We moved into a brand-new house on Alsobrook, that no one else had ever lived in but it was way out in south county! That meant that just as it started it had ended with Sheldon, there were no smart phones, neither of us had a car, and from a St. Louisans perspective driving from north county to south county is like driving across the country. That is actually kinda what it felt like too. It was far from everyone in our family and most didn’t have cars, so we didn’t see folks as much as before. But Kirkwood was a better school district, in a more diverse area, there were tons of kids in the neighborhood, and we had a brand-new house! I wasn’t sad about the move, I had gotten use to moving and leaving people and things behind. I was always excited about the possibility of a new adventure. I was still very shy for the most part but found a group of misfits to fit in with. No I didn’t open up to them and tell them anything about my past, but I didn’t have to because I could tell that many of them had the same story and that is why we gravitated to one another. I was building a little network, I was so optimistic, and I could feel my voice returning.
Ok, another odd fact about me was that sometimes my life had theme music, sometimes it was a popular song of the day but often it was like theme music theme music…lol Sometimes when I was running it would be that sound from the Bionic Man “Beennn nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh”, if I was climbing a tree it would be orchestra music from Indiana Jones “Dun dunanta dunantan duntan duntan dyantan duntan dun dun dun dun dun atan dun dunn dun dun duntan duntan duntan”, and on days that were just good it would be the theme from Greatest American Hero! Lmao!
“Believe it or not,
I’m walking on air.
I never thought I could feel so free-
Flying away on a wing and a prayer.
Who could it be?
Believe it or not it’s just me.”
Things were gradually getting better and I began to allow myself to relax into happiness. I danced with my friends, went roller skating, had sleepovers, went to the mall, and talked trash with my friends. I was becoming a normal kid. I had let my guard down I was letting go of my fears, getting to just be me again and it felt good. I didn’t know how much things would change in the next two years, I didn’t know that I was being a foolish child to believe I could have a normal life. Soon enough I would realize that this was not a new beginning that I had hoped for, this was actually the beginning of the end.