College and Boys

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Marymount graduation
The following post is an excerpt from Snow Globe Reconstruction, a work in progress...

I graduated from Marymount High School in 1977, overflowing with relief that I had made it through the maze of childhood drama and insecurity. Here I was riding the wave of adult possibility, but I was still...well, mostly terrified. After a short season of ministry training and service in Youth with a Mission in Sunland, CA, I managed to talk my folks into letting me enroll into Pepperdine University in Malibu, with the added perk of boarding at school. My father had always said we could go to any school we liked as long as we were home for dinner. Sort of kidding, sort of not.

My dad and mom agreed to let me rent an apartment with a couple of other students as long as I came home on the weekends…no wild parties allowed.

I was lost but having fun. Like, riding-on-a-tilt-a-whirl-while-throwing-up sort of fun. It was wonderful and disorienting; for the first time in my life, literally, I was alone to make my own decisions. Before moving to Malibu, every hour would have needed to have been accounted for, and every decision explained. Invited to ride in a car with a boy, I would have called for permission, or I would have at least been prepared to make a case for my choice. Although my parents were amazing and did a darn good job with four girls, looking back, I could have used a more extensive internship on how to be a grown-ass adult.

Due to very limited freedom up to that point, I was tentative and over-cautious at times, but vulnerable and naïve at others.  With no confidence or experience in the arena of independent socializing, walking into a room full of college students required a persona, and I didn’t really know what a “normal college girl” acted like, so I had to improvise using inference and hypotheses to pull it off. I tried out a subtly sensual tomboy vibe, warm and available emotionally but distant sexually, and I think I almost pulled it off.  As masks go, it was relatively harmless, but the problem with creating personas is that sometimes we start to inhabit them as if that’s who we really are. Eventually, the masks begin to function like fun-house mirrors that distort our true reflections.

Wearing the facade of the accidentally-sexy ingenue forced me to take another look at my sedative eating habits. I went to a naturopath/chiropractor who put me on a “cleanse,” the first of many throughout my life. I lost 10 lbs eating sprouts and avocados drenched in Bragg’s Aminos, allowing myself fruit in the morning, only. But this behavior would only be sustainable for the first month, followed for the rest of my tenure at Pepperdine by a mutated diet that for allowed sprouts and avocado during the week punctuated by pizza and ice cream on the weekends. I knew something was wrong, but had no idea how to address it, so I stayed on the tilt-a-whirl for two long trimesters.

Eventually, I chose to practice my naïve-and-overtly-cautious skills on a guy, an ex jock and graduate from Pepperdine who had returned to the scene of his college glory days to attend a basketball game with friends.  The romance was short-lived and innocent, lasting no more than a couple of weeks; my theory has always been that it didn’t take him very long to sense that I didn’t know who I was, or what I wanted. I didn’t know him at all, but I was still devastated that he disappeared, apparently into an actual relationship before my insecure attempt at junior high romance had time to bloom. Even though this moment would eventually become a blip on the timeline of my story, at the time it reinforced my fear that I was socially handicapped; this little event caused me to reach out to my mom over a tearful lunch, and she suggested a counseling appointment at church as a next step. Terrified of making a mistake at this sensitive life intersection, I agreed; maybe God would tell Pastor Jack who I was supposed to become?

Our family pastor Jack Hayford, along with my mom, sat down with me to hear about my disillusionment over this first year “away” at school. Truth is, although I didn’t think I knew what I wanted to do with my life, the road I was on at the time really wasn’t that far off. I had signed up for a degree in communication with an eye on broadcast journalism. With a class in photography and one in journalism, I might have been happy traveling that road, but insecurity took over, and I wanted to surrender the wheel to somebody else…God? My parents? Would somebody, anybody, just tell me what to do?

So, Pastor Jack gave me a push in a definite direction, and my mom offered up the possible coordinates. My sister Cherry and her husband Dan lived in Hawaii, serving at the evangelical Youth with a Mission base on the big island. Maybe I want to consider a hiatus from Pepperdine, and go to Hawaii for a year to serve, with my big sister there to look after me? I could offer myself as a student and intern in ministry training, and perhaps, this would lead me to the next step.

It didn’t occur to me to resist. Hawaii? Don’t mind if I do. I could please my parents, avoid making some terrible mistake, and go on a terrific adventure. I was on a plane in weeks.

YWAM in Kona, Hawaii, was a great adventure. I fell in love.

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2 comments

  1. Dear Laury💕

    Thank you for sharing your sweet memories.
    You and your parents a lovely person!

    P.S.
    Here’s a long-distance “Happy Birthday” to you from Japan❗

    God bless you💕

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you so much! I'm grateful to hear from you 😊

    ReplyDelete

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