I walked out of my old life and started over after reform school. This is something I only realized about six months ago. I mean I understood that I left Mississippi after I graduated from Escuela Caribe, but I didn’t realize I’d severed all ties when I walked.
I cut all ties and told half truths to the few I stayed connected with. I know exactly how I must have said it, eyes wide, face creased in a smile. “I went to a Christian boarding school for high school? In the Dominican Republic? We did lots of service projects and we went to the beach.” If anyone pressed me I’d talk about how beautiful the D.R. was, and then I’d flip the conversation and ask about them.
I couldn’t deal with it- the disconnect between my past self and the present, the girl I was before and the shell I had become. I couldn’t tell anyone my parents had spent thousands of dollars to have me broken and remolded into a compliant Christian daughter. I couldn’t write about any of it until I had my own child.
I just walked out of my past and started over when I moved to Athens, and in Athens I found a safe place where I could become the girl I had dreamed. And until last December when I was interviewed for Raw Story, I didn’t talk about Escuela Caribe or being raised evangelical or even being from Mississippi with most of my friends here. They know me as a writer, a rock and roller, a fashion plate, a librarian- not some girl who was shattered because she was raised evangelical. And that’s all I ever wanted, back when I was growing up all fundamentalist in Mississippi- not to be defined because of whom my father was or by his beliefs, but to be known on the merits of what I valued, of who I was myself.