Ten was the age of opposites. On one side of the coin, life was good. I met some of my best friends in the fourth grade and we formed a band called The Socks (as part of our gimmick, we rolled up our jeans and wore crazy-colored socks). My fourth grade teacher booked us gigs in the library, the auditorium, and in front of members of the PTA. We were veritable elementary school celebrities! We performed songs from The Go-Gos like "We Got the Beat" and "Vacation" and although I really wanted to be lead singer (I loved singing, and I wasn't bad at it either), I was willing to take backseat to the prettier, more outgoing, Stacee.
But home was empty--no dogs or dads. My mom was dealing with her divorce, and I was dealing with her emotional freefall. My way of coping was pretending to live in a fantasy world fueled by plotlines from soap operas like All My Children and General Hospital (I watched GH religiously). In many ways it was easier to stay in that world as much as possible. There, I could make my own endings to my own story lines. I often think of this time as my precursor to being a writer.
Then things got really bad, and I learned to pray. On my knees in my bathroom with my hands clasped and eyes closed, I called out to God with desperation. "Something really bad is going to happen. Please help my mother." I had grown up in a family of prayer warriors. My paternal grandparents were sincere lovers of Jesus, and they taught me that He was always there for me no matter what. And at the age of ten, I learned they were right.
God comforted me in this time of desolation. When I felt I couldn't talk to anyone else, I knew I could go to Him and He would listen. This was the beginning of real faith for me.
About a year after the divorce, my mother met a man who literally swept her off her feet. He was from another country and spoke with a thick accent that I found hard to understand. Within six weeks, he would become her third husband and my new step father.
And life was about to change for us in a big way once again...