I peeked from the darkness of the large empty mouth of the moving van onto the gravelled road in front of our new house. It was hot, steamy and wet inside the truck because of the summer heat and humidity of the Chesapeake Bay. It was if the walls of the truck were contracting trying to exhale some of the hot air. I could see the air undulating. I tightened my hold of the book I was required to carry, “Female Lives of the Saints”. Carrying the book was punishment for speaking disrespectfully to my Mother. I was to be seen with it at all times or more days would be added to the penance. Luckily that day I was mostly ignored since it was moving day. Before sunrise, we left the tract houses of the suburbs of D.C. in exchange for a small coral-colored 2-story Victorian home in a small town in Muddy Creek, Maryland. To my dismay, the first thing my Father did when we arrived was unload and erect our old St. Francis of Assisi birdbath as a centerpiece for the front yard. No one else had anything else like it in the neighborhood; just American flags, a fair amount of garden trolls, and assorted automobile junk. So much for me fitting in.
I saw no one around so I quickly jumped out the back of the truck and ran to the safety of the shade of a nearby oak tree. Sweat trickled down my back. I wore a long sleeve white shirt and blue cotton baggy pants with a straw hat. My mother believed at all times and above all else, whatever the situation, in “covering up”. Especially for a fourteen-year-old Saint Pope Pius the X girl. When we were young my mother used to allow my siblings and I to go shirtless and run through the hose in the backyard to cool off. But once we I puberty, a litany of rules and regulations were instituted to provide modesty and to protect the sanctity of the body.