No help needed here!
I don’t even know most of my cousins. However, most of the cousins I do know I have grown up with and have been very close to them throughout my childhood. These cousins were on my Mom’s side, which is also a nicely sized family. My last name, Liebing, seems to raise eyebrows of new acquaintances. In response to their puzzled look, I offer up the little bit of information that I know about my last name; “Its German,” I say, “It means ‘darling’ I believe.” Then there is usually a little laughter associated with some Nazi joke. Aw, the German Legacy.
Growing up, I was constantly being made fun of because of my family. Most of the fundamentalist Christians that I had considered my friends as a young teen had moved with their parents from the western side of Washington State to “escape the sin.” They were not all that involved with their extended families mainly because Grandma did not appreciate the fact that her grand-daughters were parading around in home-made prairie dresses and schooling at home (learning to sew more dresses and to cook with unleavened bread). It wasn’t as though my parent’s extended family didn’t disapprove also at first, but as it turns out, they were close enough to the extreme Republican fringe to be able to accept a little religious crazy. Pretty much any story that a friend of mine might share with me, I seemed to have a similar experience to share with them involving one of my cousins. This became a rather obvious pattern that was quickly noted by my friends and was used to get some laughs… at my expense. That was, in fact, how I preferred to make people laugh. It was a nice little self-preservation mechanism that is still a part of my social psyche.
A typical conversation with me during my early teens would go something like this:
“I was so excited to actually win something!”
My friend Autumn might say about a little homemade prize that my mother put together for the Frisbee tossing competition during one of the feast days. Don’t ask.
“I have never won anything. But, my cousin won a brand new Toyota pickup truck at a country music concert and then won a bunch of the door prizes at the NRA fund raising dinner!”
After a couple confused facial expressions, I might have felt awkward enough to expand on those thoughts even though the little Trevor in my head was screaming “NOOOO! Stop talking!”
“The rest of my cousins and family think he must be incredibly lucky or something.”
Then I immediately begin to panic because I mentioned the word 'lucky' and could offend some of the people around me because 'luck' is not something that Yaweh or Yashua have sanctioned and suggests that there is some other force that controls fate. Oh dear, I should not mention fate either.
Autumn, or Carrie, or perhaps Serena would then make the comment:
“Do you ever talk about anything other than your cousins?”
Then everyone would start laughing and I would have to say something like:
“That’s so funny! Because one of my cousins said that very same thing to me last weekend!”
I am just that cool.
I was however, always very popular with the girls in this Christian fellowship that we called; “The Meeting House.” I suppose that isn’t what we called the fellowship but rather, the building in which the fellowship gathered. In a casual reference, I think I might have, in a conversation with one of my cousins, referred to the congregation as “The Meeting House People…” Little did I know at the time that many gay men, just like me, were also very popular with girls. I was a closet gay and they were closet hags. This idea makes me laugh now.
My closet hags and I spent most of the time gossiping about the different key families of the Meeting House people. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the Liebing family was one of those key families. I can’t imagine the gossip that was floating around behind out backs. However, knowing some of the stories I was soaking up about the other families, I think I have a pretty good idea. I don’t think that I realized that my family was one of the key families is because I was so caught up with trying to keep up with the key families. My family could be so embarrassing for me sometimes.
There were the Robertsons, the Keyes, the Hecks, the Hoechers, and the Bauers. Later the McGuiers would also become one of the key families toward the peak of the Meet House’s life span. As far as I know there are people that still meet there, but it isn’t anything close to what it was when all the aforementioned families attended. The McGuiers really kind of pushed themselves into the spotlight. They really weren’t welcome in the top tiers of the Meeting House people, especially in my eyes. They were ex-Mormons.
I mean… c’mon… Mormons. I honestly didn’t know what Mormons were except my Dad said that they left because he was pretty sure the church was trying to get Mr. McGuire to take a second wife.
But, much like a hostile take-over, they rapidly moved in as a pillar of the congregation. They, like many Mormons, had a huge family. Many of the older children of the family were young men between the ages of 22 and 17. Also, like a lot of Mormon families, these young men were beautiful. Beautiful and they were all very manly men. Athletic, popular, funny, witty and completely Christian they were. Who could compete? I might have been secretly attracted to them, but that wasn’t why I didn’t like them. I didn’t like them because I had this suspicion that they were a bunch of poseurs. I do not know why I thought that, but I got a strong feeling from the way they spoke so confidently and securely. Anyone that was that into the Lord must have been a fraud. They were just a little too churchy.
With this lifestyle, it felt very different to be around family. My closest cousins were much more secular compared to my Meeting House friends. Skyler had internet, went to public school and had friends that told vagina jokes and played Nintendo games. Zane and Blane had big souped-up pick-ups and a lot of guns and liked to hunt. Blane especially liked to hunt. Every word that comes out of his mouth, even to this day, is about a gun or hunting. Katie also went to public school, but as an only child, she was sheltered a lot more by her parents. The friends she had from school were more into FAA and 4H instead of video games and boys. These were country girls (most of which did not really live in the country) that wore cowboy boots and shirts that expressed their support for the NRA or something else completely red... like abstinence.
On a rare occasion, these two diverse worlds would collide. These occasions were usually my or my siblings birthdays. The Robertsons never came, nor did the Keyes or the Hecks. The Hecks would never come to something like my birthday party mostly because they believed that celebrating one’s birthday was a pagan tradition and they thought that everyone was beneath them and their holiness. Also, none of their children were my age.
The family that did come to my birthday parties was the Reynolds family. They had two sons, Gideon and Josiah, which were close to my age. Gideon was the younger one of the two and was most likely ADHD. Josiah was a very depressed and with-drawn young man most likely because he had to live with his father, Mark. Josiah hardly smiled, never joked and liked to make secret codes and code-names to disguise the secret spy he wanted to be. Part of his secret spy dream was to help spread the truth about Yashua and to help take down the evil U.S. government. I don’t think that I would ever smile either if I had to live with Mark as a father.
I can remember one night, as a young child, listening to Mark rant about how all government employees and homosexuals should be disfigured and tortured to death and how he would do it to ensure the maximum amount of pain. I didn’t realize that I had become transfixed on the things that he was saying, but he looked over and saw how I was about to throw up. He then bellowed:
“Get him outta here please.”
It wasn’t so much of a shout, as a sarcastically slurred message that really said:
“I cant believe this little faggot-to-be doesn’t have the stomach to hear what needs to be done.”
That, or it said:
“Why is he even in here to begin with?”
As if it was completely absurd that I would be sitting on my living room sofa. It didn’t help that Mark is an absolutely massive human being with a voice that echoes even while he whispers. His head alone was the size of a five-gallon bucket that loomed 6’7” over the floor. He is rather intimidating and I fear the thought that I might someday, run into him again.
Being a part of this circle was something I never completely adjusted to. I liked my life as I was growing up with my cousins in my pre-Meeting House era.
I had felt normal.
When my parents decided to home school my sisters and I, it was a little hard for me to understand or comprehend. That proved to be a lot easier to get used to over the idea that Grandma and Grandpa did not like what my parents were getting involved with when they started going to the Meeting House. They felt it was a cult and that they would brainwash my parents, my siblings and myself. They were right. The changes made me feel uprooted. No more Christmas or Easter. No Halloween and no pork. It was so embarrassing to tell the absent-minded aunt that you couldn’t eat the bacon and to see the “oh right. I forgot” look on her face as she rolled her eyes and started to make something else.
And that was my Mom’s family. Dad’s family was a little different. They took much more offense to the idea that my Mom and Dad were schooling their children at home. They felt that we would become socially retarded and would be cheated out of a bright future filled with education and peer interactions. They also did not like that idea that Mom and Dad started to believe that White people were God’s chosen people, instead of the Jews. This is a little odd now that I think of it.
After all, Liebing is a German name.
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