**Linking up with MamaKat today: 2.) Tell us about a “character” in your town or neighborhood who left an impression on you. **
I grew up in a very small town in Michigan. Before my parents divorced, we lived out in the country with neighbors that were miles away. It wasn’t the type of situation where you really got to know your neighbors, especially as a child. After my parents divorced, my Mom bought a 900 square foot house in town and we had neighbors galore. I was never happier. I could ride by bike to multiple friends’ houses, I could walk to school with friends and my most favorite aunt and uncle lived a block away. It was something to be happy about in the midst of much unhappiness.
We lived on Elm Street. Can you believe it? Right in the middle of the Nightmare on Elm Street phenomenon, we lived on Elm Street. As a lifetime horror movie fanatic, I thought that was the coolest. We had many neighbors as the houses were very close together. On the right was a young couple with a baby for whom I babysat. That little girl would scream her lungs out for 30 minutes after her parents left. But, as a bonus, they had Top Gun on tape. I watched it for the first time after she went to bed one night. I’ll never forget that sex scene between Tom and Kelly. My 12-year-old head almost exploded.
To the left of us was one of the weirdest men I’d ever met. He was a 30-something who lived with his Mom. He was nice but creeped me out and gave me that icky feeling. He mowed lawns and, luckily, stayed inside most of the time. There house and lawn were always a mess. I’m not sure I ever saw the Mom. I avoided him as much as possible. It was a good first lesson in trusting your gut. He might have been the sweetest guy in the world, but I wasn’t taking any chances.
Across the street, in a little red ranch, lived a Baptist pastor and his wife. We were Presbyterians who went to church every week. The summer before, in a weird twist of fate, my babysitter had lived in the very house that I was now living. She babysat us all summer long and took us to bible school. Baptist bible school with the pastor who lived in the red ranch house. I loved all things God and church and bible school and was a model student. I memorized all the bible verses so I could get the punch in my card that would eventually turn into a prize at the end of the week. I learned all the songs, read all the stories, colored all the coloring pages. I loved it. One day, during the morning prayer/service time, the pastor said that if any of us wanted to be saved by Jesus, we could stay in the church and we would receive a cross necklace. Well of course I was going to stay for that! I wanted to be saved (even though I had no idea what that meant) and I for sure wanted that necklace. When I came home with my shiny new gold cross, I said I got it for staying after church and my Mom thought nothing about it.
When we moved into the house, across the street from the pastor, he and his wife came over to visit. They also mentioned that they were hoping to see us in church on a regular basis now that I had been saved. You should have seen the look on my Mom’s face. I mean, she was a religious, church-going woman, but this was a whole new level. She looked at me like “What the hell did you do?” and I had no idea. I just wanted the damn necklace. My Mom explained to them that we were Presbyterians and were very happy with our current church and she was very sorry about the necklace. I think I had to give it back. My mom later explained to me what being saved meant and why I had to give the necklace back. I was super embarrassed but mostly just bummed about my cross necklace.
After that, for the 3 years we lived there after the incident, I swear that pastor gave me a weird look every time I saw him. I’m sure he was under the impression that I was just another crazy Presbyterian after some free goodies. My Mom and I still to this day laugh about the day I was saved for a cross necklace. It makes for a good story, doesn’t it?