The summer I was eight, my father was going through a spiritual rough patch. The year prior, he sold his bar (which had been a life-long dream of his), and he quickly changed gears to a new kind of business. I can’t go into all the details but are you familiar with the term “fake Gucci products?” Yeah, that business didn’t work out either. (That story is a whole other column.)
Dad began spending the summer not working, ordering L. Ron Hubbard books, and spending six hours a day vacuuming our swimming pool. It is important to note that our pool water was green most of that summer. His vacuuming was more habitual than practical.
Dad was not only reading L. Ron Hubbard books, but he was also receiving mail from the Church of Scientology.
He was actually thinking about joining.
My mom was not happy about this. She converted to Catholicism to marry the man and she was not about to enable my father with this quest.
Cue: Gabby, a curious eight-year-old whose favorite past time was to ask questions.
“What book are you reading, Dad?”
“Who’s L. Ron Hubbard?”
Dad finally found someone who wanted to hear the good word, and it was me!
One afternoon while my mother was busy cleaning motel rooms, my father sat me down on our couch and said that he wanted to try something.
He said he wanted to “clear” me. He said it would be cool and he knew that I could do it.
I remember him leading me into meditation. He had me explain the imagery that I was seeing in my head. I remember seeing a forest in technicolor and then the sun was blinding until I walked through a patch of trees into a valley where I saw the start of a rainbow.
To this day, I still misremember that memory as something that really happened.
I’ve argued with my childhood best friends, “Remember when we walked through the woods and found the magical valley?” and they look at me like I’m on drugs.
I don’t know what any of this means. My father got a job at the end of summer that actually changed his life, and his L. Ron Hubbard books began to collect dust on a shelf.
I still think about that summer, and even though my dad has been dead for 20 years, he still gets mail from the Church. With everything going on with the Catholic Church, I too am feeling spiritually vacant this year.
Maybe this summer I should explore the Church of Scientology as an adult. Who knows? I might even find Tom Cruise waiting for me at the end of that rainbow.