Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Grace Street - Welcome to Hannibal

I remember our move to 2007 Grace Street. Everyone was excited. My husband and I had our first child together. Her older siblings were excited. The house was great. It was an older three bedroom Victorian that had been remodeled. It had pocket doors in the living room, arches between the living room and dining room and a grand staircase.

We moved from the tiny town of Hallsville Missouri. My husband taught Agriculture in Mexico Missouri half time and in the evening would deliver trays to patients at the Medical Center. I substitute taught in Hallsville. This new marriage was working out reasonably well. It had kinks like all new marriages. I was determined to be successful.

Yet, something was wrong. I never felt like I belonged anywhere. Now I know that some of that was internal. I went to the same church but my life was so different than the vibrant college students, recent grads and newly married. I was newly married but not in the same fresh faced way that they were – what I saw as rejection probably wasn’t intended that way. Nevertheless, I felt like I didn't belong.

Then we moved to Grace Street. Even the name sounded like it would be good. A new house to live in, a new job for my husband – we would be respectable. He was a schoolteacher. Later I went to work for Mark Twain Mental Health. We were two young professionals with a growing family. Certainly, our image would change.

When we moved in the kids ran up and down the stairs. I want this room! Nathan and Jason settled into one large bedroom, my husband and I settled in the master and the two little girls in a small bedroom. Our youngest slept with us most of the time but she did have an official crib and bed.

The local Assemblies of God church had a school. The church I had come from had a school but we couldn’t afford it. I enrolled the children in Christian school once again thinking, we had really arrived. We were now normal people. Our youngest went to the church’s daycare once I started work.

I worked on the house. Initially we just stayed in Hannibal not traveling the two hours back to Columbia. Everything we needed and wanted was there. It was a new life for us.

The church was traditional. I missed the vibrancy of our previous church but I’d been a church going gal all my life and very adaptable. My husband, who had gone to church in our first year of marriage, drifted away returning to the religion of his family and upbringing. Alone I would go to church. The boys were Royal Rangers, Bethany became a Daisy Missionette, we went to Sunday School, morning and evening worship and Wednesday night. Alone I would be stared at; I was the wife of that foreigner. The neighbors looked at us the same way. The children were chased in the street being yelled at with ethnic slurs. The welcome mat certainly wasn’t out in Hannibal.

In the midst of this, I got pregnant again. The new child was due within days of the second birthday of our last child. Natural spacing they call it. Child number five was due to be born in May of 1981. For reasons I don’t remember now, I decided I didn’t want to have this child in Hannibal. However, I wanted a private doctor this time. The last two birth experiences with clinic residence had been excellent. I think in my quest for what I thought was normal, I wanted a private doctor.

The most popular doctor in Columbia among my peers was the one I chose. He was popular for good reason and an excellent doctor. He was one of the few people who actually treated me with respect and treated me normally.

A new house, a new town, new jobs, a new child, it should have all been good. I don’t remember it ever really being good in Hannibal after that first day or two. Things soured very quickly. In December of our first year in Hannibal, I answered the phone one day. It was my mother. Her husband had died. It was an omen of things to come. We packed our children in our old Mercury Monterey to a funeral in the bitter cold of a Missouri December.

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