I have this running joke about being from the streets. Whenever I get into debates with my friends I say something to indicate that they should tread lightly and watch the tone they take with me because “I’m from the streets!” Technically these statements are true. People should watch the tone they take with me. I did grow up in some not so nice places and saw some not so nice things. Yet it’s not really true. Yes, I lived in tough places, but I was an observationist and never fully accepted or participated in the street lifestyle. So, after Captains Mast when we were found guilty and given thirty days of base restriction was a tad scared. Base restriction was basically baby jail. We, Linda and I, had to live in a restrictive barracks on base for thirty days and had to do some sort of extra duties. We were also supposed to be docked half of our pay that month but thankfully they somehow forgot, and we didn’t remind them! All this was due to the fact that when each of us originally applied to move off base we planned to do so solo. When we decided to be room mates we did not go back and change the paperwork. That first month we each received an extra five dollars or so on our check, that was fraud. The truth of the matter was that everyone knew about Linda stripping and the prostitution case. Some of the guys in the shop and around base had even gone to the club she worked in and seen her dance. This made her a target and since I was her friend/roommate I was included in the fun.
Once we got to the restriction barracks my fears were assuaged. It was just a regular barracks! Linda and I were the only Females, so we had a ten-person room to ourselves. It sucked to not be able to leave the barracks and to only be allowed to wear our uniforms, but it was not that bad really. Our friends could come visit us and bring us food. I laid the guilt trip on Adrian extra thick. I told him this was all his fault, if he hadn’t backed out of being my roommate I wouldn’t be in lock up! As a result, he brought us food a few times a week. From my perspective, other than not being able to leave it was basically the same as our life in our old barracks. From Linda’s perspective it was jail! It was unfair! She was being persecuted! She was so angry and wanted me to be angry too. I was not, I saw no benefit in it and therefore no point. Me being angry was not going to change anything and it would make the thirty days seem to last longer. I told her we should use this time to clear our minds and reflect on our lives and all the experiences we have had. She was more agitated. I decided to read the Bible. She was even more agitated!
I had grown up going to church. Most times my mom didn’t go but she always made sure us kids were on the Joy bus singing songs on our journey to the lord’s house. I believed when I was a little kid but sometime around thirteen or, so I began to doubt. The doubt started when my inner voice softly whispered, “are you sure?” The next question was “how do you know?” Then came “does this even make sense?” I continued to believe but I was growing disenchanted because once the questions were asked I began to really pay attention. I began to ask more questions and I began to see the agitation when the person I asked had no answers. I finally broke and gave up on the church after one Sunday at my grandma’s church in Arkansas.
The pastor was giving a sermon and told a story about raising chickens. He talked about how the rooster would crow every morning to let everyone know it was time to start the day. He said that if a chicken had gotten on the fence and crowed like a rooster they would break her neck, because she had forgotten her place. I was disgusted!!! I looked around the room packed exclusively with women and children and could not believe what I saw. These educated, hardworking, self-sacrificing women were clapping and yelling “AMEN!” They gave into shouting and catching the holy ghost and the pastor leapt from his sermon into some old negro sprituralish church song that everyone in the room already knew. I just watched. It was so unreal to me that a man could tell a room full of mostly single mothers that they better stay in a woman’s place or else get your neck broke and those women would dance and celebrate his words. After the service I cautiously asked my aunts about this and none of them knew what I was talking about. They didn’t even realize what he had said. They were caught in the rhythm and rhyme of it the celebration and the music. It was just a show, just entertainment. I was done.
So, I understood Linda’s agitation. We had discussed religion before and both were on the same page about it. she felt I was trying to get all religious and find God now that we had gotten in trouble. I truly was not. Not at all. I wanted to just read the book. I had never done so, and it is hard to argue against that which you don’t understand. I just wanted to know what the book said. To be honest I did kinda hope that while I was reading the sprit of the lord would wash over me and I would be filled with the love of the lord. I didn’t think that was possible, but I was not opposed to it. I read and read and read. I really enjoyed the stories! I was super annoyed with all the names and listing of names at different times, but over all I though the stories were quite good. Good life lessons contradictory at times but good none the less.
As our release date drew near I was also reaching the end of the old testament. I was not converted but did have a better understanding. I had also occupied my mind, allowing the time to pass in a really relaxing way. Reading the bible did not allow my mind the time to attack me or worry about what was to come. My mind was too busy digesting, analyzing, and trying to find reason in something I had believed to be unreasonable. Just as I had tried to find reason in Linda. I still hunt for reason in everyone and everything. In that thirty days I learned that there is a bit of reason and understanding to be found in most things, but that humans exaggerate the things they believe to be reasonable or the things they feel should be understood and use them to justify their actions. Weather its religion, relationships, selling drugs, or robbing folks all have a reason for what they do.
When we got off restriction I called my grandma and told her I had read the bible thinking she would be happy to hear it. She was not! She told me that the “Bible is not a book you just read from cover to cover”. She instructed me to “just pick it up and open it and the lord would show you to the pages he wants you to read.” This conversation sucked the wind out of my biblical quest. It was another moment where I was shown that many had no real desire to understand the bible as a whole. How could randomly reading sections of a book possibly help you understand the point of it all? Could you imagine opening random pages of a Steven King novel (or any book ever written) and just choosing a random sentence and know what the story was about as a whole? On that note I was good, I never started the new testament of the bible. I did start the new testament of life with Linda. We went and bought the things we need for our apartment and finally got to have a house warming party. I was not my normal “this is our new beginning, everything will be good” self. I was more like “things are good let’s see how it goes this time around.” I think I was growing into my streetness.