“You’re going to be just like family, so make yourself at home,” the mom said. That’s a line that you can almost always be sure is going to turn out to be a big, fat lie. I had my own room, for which I paid rent, I had my cell phone, but the home phone bill was constantly scoured for my portion, I had my own shelf of groceries in the fridge, and yet paying my own way did not offer me the privacy and independence of a paying boarder. My clothes were borrowed without permission, my cell phone used, and I was expected to “keep an eye” on the girls. The mom worked in the accounting department at the ministry where I cleaned and had two teenage daughters who were home-schooled, and they lived in a mobile home park not far from my sister. So as the mom worked all day, and I was home all day and worked late at night, her daughters were at home all day (with me) supposedly “home-schooling”. In fact, they were sneaking my clothes and wearing them to go wrestle in the grass with the delinquent neighbor boys. I was the one who had to fetch them away from their hormonal frenzies in the boy’s bedrooms when their mom called to check in. In fact, I was the only one studying in that household.
I had decided to take my SAT’s. I didn’t know what I’d do or where I’d go to school, but I at least wanted to know what my SAT score could do for me. I spent my days teaching myself the algebra I never learned how to do in school, and taking reading comprehension quizzes in a test prep book. I studied during work breaks and during my carpool ride, and for the first time since grade school, I found myself enjoying academia again. But algebra remained a struggle and I had no one to help me. Taking what I’d learned from Debra, I asked God for help with my math. I remember the problem I was working on and how nothing seemed to click. I’d been over it and over it on paper and couldn’t make sense of anything. Finally, I prayed and asked God to help me (Him being pretty brilliant in math and all). When my eyes returned to the problem, I immediately knew the answer and why “z” equaled “0”. My practice quizzes immediately began to improve. Go figure (pun intended).
In the meantime, my landlady decided to take her girls to an ORU College Weekend, and if I wanted to pay the $25, I could go with them. Even though the idea of traveling with this dysfunctional family of girls for four hours up to Tulsa and back didn’t thrill me, neither did staying in an out of the way trailer park with no transportation all weekend. I decided to go.
I had never really heard of ORU and had no expectations of the weekend, but somewhere between the sumo-suit wrestling matches I consistently won, the cafeteria pizza, and the physics class I didn’t understand, I knew that was where I was supposed to be and that everything I’d been through in the last several months had led up to this. I was also able to get some distance from my boy-crazed companions and meet some girls, who like me, were interested in everything else going on in the world besides just guys.
The place just made sense to me, with the exception of their tuition costs. I didn’t know how in the world I’d pay for school. I’d almost completely blown off trying in high school, so no chance of scholarship there. My mom was still in California, just paying her own bills. My dad was in Washington State and I hadn’t spoken to him in about a year. I was on my own, but I knew that if that was where I was supposed to be, it would happen. I applied and took the SAT’s as soon as I got home.