Thursday, April 12, 2012

Guest Post: "A Teenager Joins the Cult"

The first post of a new series by "Former Future Enlightened Leader," whose earlier contribution was a response to the recent Oprah Winfrey program featuring Fairfield and the Maharishi School.

A Teenager Joins the Cult

Part 1

My mom and step-dad learned TM when I was 12ish.  It was after my mom had gone to the loony bin.  She was in the nice part for people with eating disorders and depression not the padded walls part but try explaining that to the kids at school.

All my stepbrothers and I knew about mediation was that after work my step dad would sit in his recliner for a while quietly before turning the TV on and mom would go to her room.

If we got too loud playing baseball in the front yard my mom would scream out the window to be quiet because she was meditating.  Adding to her fame in the neighborhood.

My mom didn’t scream at us as much any more so meditating seemed like it wasn’t such a bad idea.  The strangest thing about it in the beginning was that my step dad actually did it.  Instead of going square dancing or playing cards with friends they would go to the TM Center. My stepfather was a simple man.  He was a shop foreman who could draw anything, made pancakes in animal shapes and built his own house.  He didn’t read Leo Buscaglia books and go to group therapy like my mom.  Meditation just didn’t seem like the kind of hobby they would share.

It was spring when they split up.  They had argued often, less after they had learned to meditate, so none of us saw it coming.  I was crouched down in the long grass of our front yard.  I had just cut through the neighbor’s yard on my way home so I didn’t know what started the fight.

My stepfather was in the driveway next to our golden-rod boat of a car; he’s yelling at my mother, who I can’t see yet with one bony finger in the air, his lean muscles flexed under his plaid flannel shirt.  My stepbrothers are in the car, deep in the back seat, waiting.  It’s hunting season, bows not guns, the car is packed for the trip and my mom comes in to view.  Here cheeks are red, her nose even redder.

A police car is coming down the street, no sirens, just slow and cautious.  My best friend kneels next to me and grabs my hand in hers, squeezing tight.

Just as the police car parks in front of our house my stepfather’s arm raises up and a beer can clanks to the pavement near my mom.

I focus on my breathing, snot running down my nose, escaping faster than tears as the policemen talk to my step dad.  Eventually he leaves in the car with the boys and goes hunting for the weekend.  The next day, with almost every dish and piece of furniture in the house, my mom and I leave too.

My step dad and the boys came home to an empty house.  On Monday at school my stepbrother tells me his dad curled up on the floor and started crying.  My stepbrother was a year older than me and the most mature person in the family.  He let me know that they fought because my mom and step dad were supposed to go hunting together with out the kids.  When my step dad decided to make it a family trip it turned in to the fight I walked home to.

My mom and I set up house in an apartment.  My mom drifted around the apartment decorating with bare tree branches and assuring me our lives would be much less stressful now.  According to my mother my step dad never took his mediation seriously.

I started spending long summer days alone in our apartment.  My mom had me tested for mono because I was so lethargic.  I started obsessing about boarding schools and sent letters to schools in New England to see what it would take for me to get a scholarship.  I lived close enough to walk to my dad’s house whenever I wanted or friends or even my old neighborhood to see my stepbrothers but I only ventured to the 7-11 on the corner to steal candy and magazines.  To cheer me up my mom started taking me with her to the TM Center.

The TM Center was in an older part of town nestled between the fancy old money and the ghetto.  A neighborhood that had funky shops and cafes.  The TM Center was an old wood house with a wide front porch.  You had to take your shoes off when you came in the door like my grandmother’s house.  I just assumed it was to protect the white carpet that ran through the main floor.  The living room and dining room were filled with little sofas and chairs gathered around easels where people came for lectures.  The kitchen was where I spent most of my time.  My mom and I would get to have dinner with the couple who ran the center, people in the neighborhood and there always seemed to be visitors.  There was a famous actor who came one time who had originally come from our town and was in to TM.  We all sat around the cozy table in the kitchen.  I was the only teenager around.  Everyone was very friendly and seemed to genuinely be interested in what I had to say.  It wasn’t a private girl’s school but it was certainly interesting and if they were willing to let me play grown-up I wasn’t opposed.

The TM Teachers who lived there were a couple from out of town.  They wore very thin cotton clothes that reminded me of pajamas or people lounging around on a cruise ship.  They drove an old Jaguar.  I had never seen a Jaguar before aside from music videos.

My mom made friends with meditators who lived in the neighborhood.  It reminded me of the times before my mom had married my step dad; when my mom’s friends were astrologers and feminists.

I had no interest in TM but the TM people seemed to be very interested in me.  We went to a barbecue at a meditator’s house near the TM Center.  There was a very good looking man there who was probably in his twenties.  My mom told me he was from Purusha.  I didn’t know what this meant but everyone treated him like he was special.  He sat next to me and asked me all kinds of questions I can’t remember.  I saw my mom and her friends whispering about us and smiling at each other like this guy liked me.  Liked me in the junior high way as in he thought I was pretty and all that.  No one interrupted our chat and we started to create our own little world at the barbecue.  He was very funny and not very grown up obviously as he was spending all his time with a thirteen year old girl.

I don’t remember if it was all explained to me but from the reaction of the other adults it was clear that his attention meant I was mature and special in some mystical kind of way.  I guess they were just impressed that I wanted to be with them instead of watching MTV.

- Former Future Enlightened Leader

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