Now that we had moved and another summer began... life was very different.
Mom got a job in another town and was gone during the day. A grocery, doctor, Laundromat and our elementary school was within walking distance of our apartment. My sister and I often slept in and then walked to the school for the sack lunch provided by the school's summer lunch program. We sat under a tree and I often let my sister play for awhile after we ate. I usually saved the fruit from lunch in case I was grounded to my room for the evening. I felt grown and very adult like that I was responsible to taking care of my sister and took full bossy advantage of that. I often cheated on my chores and made her do part of them and broke all the contamination rules for the ones I did do.
We began attending a new ward at Church. There were some "mean girls" in the new ward. Many of the families were very large and there was an on-going competition to see who was the most temple worthy. I didn't make myself any friends correcting doctrine that was being taught wrong in Sunday school. Apparently not every child is read to from the Journal of Discourses.
I always had the chores done before mom came home in the evening and on Saturdays carried the laundry about a block away to the laundry mat. My mom went the first few times to show me how to bleach out the washer before using it. How to wipe out the laundry baskets during the wash cycle so that I didn't contaminate the clothing. Each week I was given a roll of quarters and most of the time told to carry the laundry down. Sometimes it would take several trips, but there was no more hanging clothes on the line. Sometimes I would put some of the quarters in the Pacman arcade game and pray while I was playing that my mom wouldn't "check in" on me. I cherished moments away from her. Freedom that wasn't really free.
We fell into a routine of chores and church in our new community. Sometimes we would go outside and get to know the neighborhood kids. None of them too savory. My mom made a new friend, Donna. Donna had an edge to her. She didn't play by life's rules and I liked that. She was blunt and to the point. Shit didn't get to her much and she just dealt with whatever needed to be dealt with and moved on. She sometimes stayed all night and I soon learned she had cancer. A shame really.
Days went by and routine set in. Donna convinced my mom to lighten up the reigns on us a little bit and told her to let us go outside and "play". I remember smiling as I heard Donna say "What the hell", putting my mom on the spot. My mom and Donna bonded. I think maybe because they both took a lot of medicine. Mom said she had Rheumatoid arthritis and took her pain medicine and "Gold" shots. Donna took pain medicine for the cancer. I had decided my mom was a hypochondriac and her "illnesses" were an excuse to make me do everything while she took pills and naps. I tried to be good and wrestled with my relationship with my mom during the day and God at night.
My understanding of my mom changed on a late night when thirst brought me out of my room while Donna was sleeping over. I snuck across the hall and put my lips under the bathroom faucet for a cool drink of water. I listened to my mom and Donna whispering and giggling at the kitchen table and took in the smell of something funny. A smell that was familiar in the air of our neighborhood. My mind was spinning. No way. My mom still smoked cigarettes then even though it was her last barrier to being given a temple recommend. But this wasn't cigarettes. I snuck down the hall and as I approached the end of the hall, made a surprise appearance and announcement that I needed a drink. I glanced at the glass bowl contraption filled with smoke as my ears rang with mom's controlled voice telling me to go back to my room. The one that said she meant business.
So mom was smoking pot. I laid in my room and tried to make sense of it all. Nothing made sense.