BETWEEN HELL AND HEAVEN

What happens when a bunch of eleventh-graders that go to a boarding school have a dance? It's complete Hell, with girls wearing clothes that show stomach, cleavage, and legs, and boys wearing sagging pants and big shirts.

Now picture that, but add on two things: they go to an expensive, religious boarding school. Yeah, I know, right? Welcome to my world.

It's a pain in the ass to go to a private school, but a religious one, too? Just this fact alone will help you imagine what my parents are like. I'll help you.

My mom wears ankle-length dresses every day. In the winter she wears boots, and in the summer she wears sandals; in between she wears wide flat black shoes. She never talks louder than a light whisper, and prays when she gets up, before she eats, after she eats, and before she goes to bed. She doesn't wear make-up or drink any sort of alcohol, doesn't wear any jewelry besides her wedding ring (a gold band) and her crucifix earrings made of white stones. She doesn't swear, doesn't argue, and doesn't order. She's quiet, calm, and stays out of the way. She does all the housework, knits sweaters, and follows whatever my father says.

My father wears a suit every single damn day, all 365 days. He keeps his hair short, doesn't have any facial hair, and keeps a Bible with him at all times. He prays as much as my mother, leading the prayer before meals with heavy emotion. He drives a gray grandpa car, doesn't drink, smokes his pipe—pipe!—out on the porch every night as he reads the paper, and makes me do my homework at the kitchen table, checking over everything twice when I'm done. He doesn't get the math, but what the hell, he can pretend, right?

I have to wear a white blouse, white tights, flat black shoes, a blue skirt, and a plain blue jacket with my initials embroidered in fancy cursive in small white letters over my heart. For winter we have black boots and windbreakers, and a heavy blue jacket to wear over our every-day jacket if it's not raining but just cold. We are instructed not to raise our skirts, not to wear high heels, not to sag our pants (boys, since they're the only ones that get to wear pants), not to wear any visible undergarments (bras) under our blouses, and not to cut our hair any shorter than shoulder-length. Boys can't get it any longer than jaw-length. Our blue shoulder bags aren't supposed to have anything 'gang' or outside-sinning-world-related on them, and if it breaks, then we fix it. If a boy's bag breaks, they have to ask their Mom to fix it or, usually, get a new one.

And if one of us is lucky enough to have a nervous breakdown from all this religion and holiness? Go to the church and pray you will survive long enough to run away and see the real world.

I never had a best friend; no one wanted to become friends with a weirdo like me. And since I was a new girl from Boston in a special part of San Francisco where all the rich people lived in their own little safe Catholic community, I didn't know what to expect.

Okay, I think I've told you enough to understand enough of my life. Now I'll start my story.