Here is the third and final section of my autobiography (written at 16). See part 1 for the project scope.
I started middle school in September 1991, scared out of my mind. It wasn’t half as bad as I imagined. Sixth grade was interesting. I did a science project with two tiny turtles and participated in the “International night” at school. I was also in the chorus. Around that time, Mom was surprised to find out she was pregnant. I did not understand how it could be a surprise, because at that time I thought that people only had sex when they wanted to make a baby. My brother Nick was born in May the following year. I was excited to have another brother. That summer we went to bible school and had a blast. In August I got my first period. The moment I had been waiting for! I was a woman! I called Joanna and Chrissy to tell the good news. They were both jealous because I had gotten it first.
Seventh grade was a good year. I don’t really remember anything specific that happened, other than I had a huge crush on my Social Studies teacher. He was young, tall, blonde haired and blue-eyed. I was so nervous around him. He was a stud if I ever saw one.*
Eighth grade was a great year. Unfortunately we moved to New Jersey in April. I was so mad. I could not stand the idea of moving to New Jersey!** I was mad because I would have to finish eighth grade n a new school. I was even more mad because we had to live in a big housing development. Yuck! It would be tough I knew. So in May I started at Chestnut Ridge Middle School and hated it. All the kids in my class were nice but the school was overcrowded with obnoxious adolescents. I was glad I only had to be there for two months because if I had to stay longer I probably would have gone berserk. That summer we went to bible school and I roomed with my friend Leah. We had a blast that week. I had a huge crush on a guy named Nathan but to my disappointment he started going out with another girl. The rest of the summer we spent fixing up the new house and going to the shore.
In September 1994 I started high school. I was absolutely terrified on the first day. It was such a big school (with 1200 kids) that there were two buildings. One for ninth and tenth and the other for eleventh and twelfth. I didn’t know anyone in any of my classes and I really didn’t care. Throughout my freshman year I was a total loner. I didn’t have a single friend until the very end of the year when a new girl moved in and I introduced myself to her, knowing how she must have felt. Her name was Wendy and we became pretty good friends but she lived too far away to hang out with after school.
The summer of ’95 was a great one. We went to bible school as usual and I hung out with all my friends there. After we came home from that, I wanted to go to another bible school but Mom said they were probably all filled up. Shortly after that conversation, Gram called to say that she would be going to bible school up in Massachusetts with her friend Jean and that my friend Jay would be going with them. So I persuaded Mom to call and see if there was room for me. It all worked out, and that Saturday I was in a car going up to Massachusetts. I am so glad I went to that bible school because I met so many new people. I met a girl named Debby and we hit off really well, like we’d been friends all our lives. She lived in Connecticut so I didn’t see her much but we wrote and talked on the phone a lot. In August we came up to Vermont to ‘house-sit’ for a family while they went to England for three weeks. We fell in love with the area and dreamed about it when we went back to New Jersey.
10th grade was an interesting year. Wendy and I had two classes together and we goofed off whenever we were together. She moved in December so that was the end of that. I had another bone graft in December 1995. The doctor moved my upper jaw forward and down and wired my mouth shut so it could heal. So I spent the month of January at home with my mouth wired shut. I lost about 10 pounds because I could only eat liquids through a straw. My teachers came to the house to drop off work and tutor me. I enjoyed being home but I did not enjoy having my teachers come to my house.
We kept visiting our friends (who we called Uncle Trev and Aunt Jenny) in Vermont that year, in October, December, March, April and May. When Mom and I came up in March, we had a long discussion with them about possibly moving to Vermont. They wanted to build an addition on their house and they suggested that we come live with them while we looked for a house in the area. Mom and I talked about it the whole way home. We were so excited! We kept saying that it was probably too good to be true and not to get our hopes up, but we couldn’t help being excited. In May, we came up as a family and Dad, Uncle Trev and Dave (Trev & Jenny’s daughter’s boyfriend) and I got started on the addition. I remember Dave and I digging for the foundation and talking about what it would be like if we lived there. We celebrated Nick’s 4th birthday at the Hubbardton waterhole and then that night we drove back to New Jersey.
In June 1996, my grandmother Nana got married. We went up to Canada for the wedding. It was kind of strange to see my own grandmother get married, but it was nice. The next day was my 16th birthday and I spent it lying down with a stomach virus in the back seat of our van as we drove home (11 hours!). That was definitely the worst birthday of my life. I didn’t even get cake (not that I wanted to eat any at that time anyway.)
The first week in July we went to bible school and I roomed with Debby. We had a great time and met lots of new people. The Wednesday after bible school, Mom and I went to Saint Louis for an NFED conference. NFED stands for National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias, which is the syndrome I was born with. As soon as we got home from the conference, I was off to the bible school in Massachusetts. Debby and I had a great time. She fell in love with a guy from Texas and I flirted with any guy who was around. It was fun!
In August the whole family moved up to Vermont, except Dad, who stayed in New Jersey until he could find work here. Kris and John started school at Castleton Elementary and I started taking two college-level art classes at Castleton College with Uncle Trev, who is a professor there. I took a watercolor class and a studio arts class and liked them both. I didn’t get credit for them but it was a good experience. In the beginning of September Kris and I went to a CYC (our church youth group) weekend in Northern VT. I started my junior year at Fair Haven Union High School in September. I like Fair Haven better than my school in NJ because it is so much smaller and friendlier. On the first day of school I met a few people (I then went on to list their names, but I won’t do that here.) I liked all my classes, especially art. My art teacher realized I was serious about art, so he invited me to come with some of the seniors and juniors on a trip to the Hartford Art School in Connecticut for a portfolio review. That was really exciting for me because I was able to hear professional criticism and advice about my work. I also got to talk to representatives from art colleges across the country.
That pretty much brings us up to date. Right now my family is still living with Uncle Trev and Aunt Jenny in Bomoseen and Dad comes up every Friday night. I love living in this area because it is such a beautiful place and is not cram-packed with people like New Jersey was. Debby and I are still best friends, I still talk to Becky and Ben and Joanna’s brother Zach, but I haven’t heard from Joanna in about a year. Since we studied dreams in Psychology, I have been trying to write down my dreams as soon as I wake up. I have always been very interested in dreams and now that I’ve been writing them down I am seeing patterns. I often dream about dad – probably because I am anxious for him to find work here so he can live with us. I also dream a lot about things happening to me, like all my teeth falling out or forgetting to put my pants on before I come to school. I have also discovered that I dream every night. I used to think I only dreamed once in a while, but now I see I dream at least once a night if not more.
My plans for the future are always changing, because I want to do so many things. This summer (1997), I plan to go to the Governor’s Institute for the Arts for two weeks and then go to the Massachusetts bible school after that. The rest of the summer I plan to work in the garden and run around barefoot in the grass and jump in the lake and just have fun. Hopefully some of my friends from bible school will come visit.
I plan to go to Castleton College or UVM in 1998 and major in any one or combination of the following: Liberal Arts, Agriculture, Fine Arts, English, Environmental Science or Education. (As I name the entire school). After I graduate from college I’m going to get started with a career and then get married. I want to have a couple of children and enjoy seeing them grow up. I plan to live to see my great-great grandchildren and be healthy, alert, and active until my last day.
Oh dear. How optimistic I was for my future! it is kind of amusing to me to go back and read how I saw life as a 16-year-old. In some ways I was so naive it’s embarrassing. I really did have a sheltered life, and of course I am glad for that, but it did mean that I had some serious growing up to do once I got out in the real world. If I could go back in time and talk to the girl I was when I wrote this autobiography, I would tell her this: First of all, make the effort to make real friends at school, because you can never have too many friends. Second, take your academics more seriously. Apply to UVM and actually go there, instead of just defaulting to Castleton. Don’t be so afraid of what people think of you. Trust yourself.
*Many years later I saw my old social studies teacher appeared on Jeopardy! Episode #25.101 He was still pretty cute!
**My apologies to anyone in New Jersey, apparently it was the target of all of my teen angst.