That first summer after my freshman year I returned to Japan for my one trip provided by the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board. I continued to struggle with anorexia and managed it by swimming, walking, and running, eating very little and using laxatives. My poor mother struggled with her weight and I obviously was very judgmental because she saw it necessary to hide her cookies when I entered the room. While in Japan, my 30 year old boyfriend wrote letters to me and I to him. This was before all the modern technology of skype or cell phones or even email. I returned to the states in August for my second year at Mississippi College.
After living in the dorm the first two semesters, I petitioned the school to allow me to live off campus. In the 70's school policies were designed to discriminate against women. If the school closed over the holiday's, one of the men's dorms remained open for those men who were exchange students but there were no women's dorms left open. That meant if you didn't have any place to go you were stuck. So there were several holidays that I slept in my bosses car, office (on a sofa) or on a bench at the pizza parlor. Often, when people found out where I was staying, they would offer for me to stay in their home. Because I didn't have transportation, I couldn't drive to my aunts house one hour south of me, nor did I feel that the relationships I had were appropriate for me to ask if I could stay with anyone during the holidays. So, in the fall of my sophomore year, I moved into a small one bedroom duplex next to the laundry mat and pizza parlor.
To get away from him, over the Thanksgiving holiday I went to visit my older brother who then lived in Cleveland, Ohio. That was the weekend of the Jim Jones massacre in Jonestown. It happened on November 18, 1978. I remember watching the news fascinated and scared because I really couldn't grasp what was happening. Here was this master manipulator walking his followers to their death. Unbelievable! How could anyone be so vulnerable to someone like that? I didn't realize that only 7 years before, I was being manipulated and subject to something similar, only thank God not that!!
I came back to school after the holidays only to find out that this guy I had broken up with went into my apartment and took the letters we had exchanged the previous summer out of the trash and placed them all over the apartment. What I didn't know was my duplex mates had asked him to stay in their side of the duplex during the holidays while they returned to Florida. It was then I decided that in order for me to continue to function I had to leave. After the first semester of my sophomore year I moved to Gainesville, Florida to live with my two sisters.
My old boyfriend? When I got back to Mississippi he was married to a woman who had five children. Go figure.
This was in 1983 or 1984. I was 24 or 25.
© Copyright 2009 Janet Calcote Simmons All rights reserved.