Chapter 6

Kindergarten was the last grade of school I have any fond memories of. My teacher Mrs. Duke was very kind and made each of us feel special. I wasn’t good academically though and would often fall behind my classmates in spelling.

First grade was worse. I started getting into trouble. I would talk back and question everything. Did I mention it was Catholic school? They hated questions. When I questioned a perceived contradiction in a Bible story, Ms. Case lost her mind screaming at me, telling me I’m nothing like Jesus and that I never could be.

He that believeth in me, these works that I do, he shall also do. And even greater works than these

John 14:12

After she recited this verse, I asked her if I could also make miracles. It wasn’t me who was saying I could, I exclaimed. Jesus said I can do more than he can! Shouldn’t we take this into consideration? Imagine the implications. What if instead of thinking we’re born sinners, on our knees begging forgiveness for our ratchets souls – we were striving to become enlightened and ascend to a higher consciousness? What might the world look like? Is our anxiety and depression at least partly rooted in the lie they tell us, that we’re damned from birth?

Of course I’m paraphrasing the argument I made to Ms Case. I think what actually happened is I spilled my cup of water on the floor, walked across it, and told everyone I was just like Jesus. This garnered hilarious applause from the other children and the fury of Ms. Case. She was the first in a long line of teachers who seemed determined to stifle my creativity and intellectual curiosity.

Back in Martins Ferry, with 2 children and my father actually being there, the house became too small for all of us. My mom was slowly moving up in her company and with my dad staying at home with Josh, we were able to save a few dollars.

We decided to move back to Saint Clairsville and into the house my mom grew up in, where Gram lived. There was a public school nearby and it would be cheaper than the private Catholic school I was in.

They built and attached a trailer sized apartment to the house itself, where I stayed with my family, Gram moved into the addition. It was a lot smaller than what she was used to but she made the sacrifice for us and it helped tremendously.

By the time I left that Catholic school my behavior had really become a problem. My parents encouraged me to use this new school and city as an opportunity to start over. I even changed my name. I no longer wanted to be called Arthur. I was A.J. now.