My senior year in high school began with a total change in my life. I was asked by my English teacher to change my senior English class from basic to a college prep course that she taught. She believed that it would better serve me to be in a class with higher academic requirements. This was odd for me since I was never a college-bound student (being a good JW). This class did more for me than years of schooling. I learned how to analyze critically.
I also took a drama class, and discovered that I had a natural talent for acting. It was also through this class that I was able to meet Mark Medoff, the writer of Children of a Lesser God. He had moved to Las Cruces, NM to take over the drama department at New Mexico State University. He thought I had a natural talent for acting. I was also able to be in the high school rendition of Under the Sycamore Tree. I loved acting, and I loved the fact that for 2 hours I was able to transport people from their problems into a realm of fantasy.
It was my meeting with Medoff that made a great impact on my life. I had found the one thing that I trully enjoyed, acting. He really wanted me to go to NMSU, and I really wanted to go also. However, I knew that I would never be able to do it without some sort of support apart from my parents or family. During one of his visits to Taos, I sat with him for about 2 hours and attempted to explain the situation I was in with my family, and the difficult economic position I would be placed in if I went to college. It was like I was speaking Martian. He didn't understand that there were people in the world that did not want to educate themselves. I was also realistic, in that I knew that I had virtually no shot of ever making it big in movies or on Broadway, so I wanted to make show that I could teach. I have always loved to teach, and I teach adult education at the church I currently attend.
I went through my senior year of high school with the goal of actually applying myself to what I was doing. I went from being a C- student to have an A average. But I still did my thing on the side, the drugs, booze, bookmaking & shoplifting. I worked, and I saved. I would somehow make it to NMSU, and get in and get through. Then my world fell apart. My self-descructive use of drugs & booze, and my book making bit me in the ass. My best friend, who at the time was dating a studying "worldy" girl all of a sudden had an attack of conscience after having sex with her, and ran to the elders and confessed. It was in his confession that every other teen in the Hall got hosed with everything that he knew that they did. There were JCs for about 3 months. Everything I did was brought up, including my plans for college. My dad was livid, and he threatened to through me out of the house, if I continued in my plans. I had one week to prepare for my JC, and I was a basket case. At work, my boss' wife (who was a teacher I had during my junior year) sensed that I was going through something, and pulled my into the office. She asked what was happening, and I broke. I blubbered like a baby telling her everything that I was going through. That I had no choice but to submit to the elders and give up my dream. Again it was like I spoke in a different language. She just didn't get it. I was lost, and with no place to turn I showed the proper forgiveness, and was publiclly reproved. I had to have a study with an elder who served at Bethel. I went through the motions demoralized and disengaged. I just showed up and did the absolute minimum. Two days after I graduated from high school I packed and moved to L.A.
I moved in with my dad's friend and got a job working at The Broadway in the Glendale Galleria. I didn't go to meetings, I didn't talk to JWs. I sank into depression, drugs and drink. Yes, I drank. One of the first things I did when I had come out for the summer visit the previous year was get a fake California I.D. It's pretty sad to be an alcoholic at 19 years old, but I had sucha sense of dispair and self-loaathing for forgetting all my dreams so that I could stay comfortable. This went on until October 1, 1987, when the Whittier Narrows earthquake happened. It scared me to death. I had been living like the devil, and I thought that this was it. I was going to die. Forever eliminated from the human race. I made the worst decision of my life. I returned to the JWs.