I’m in NYC today. Wandering the streets that echo of my childhood memories. I pass the main branch of the New York City Public Library and I remember proselytizing and preaching on the steps when I was ten. Trying so hard to get people to come hear Father (Rev. Sun Myung Moon) when he spoke at Madison Square Garden.
I walk down 43rd Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues and pass the Church’s former headquarters. We called it 43rd Street. I remember rehearsing for a production of Annie with YeJin Moon. I remember confessing to my mother that I’d only gotten a 98 on my test. I remember my mother sitting on a bed in one of the sisters’ rooms, telling me that I was dying a spiritual death in my choice to date my boyfriend. That I was sinning and going to Hell. That I was letting Father and God down.
I see the New Yorker Hotel and remember sliding down the railing between the escalators – before they renovated the hotel and put little knobs on the railing so that you couldn’t slide down. I remember following InJin and UnJin and HyoJin Moon around – escaping from bodyguards and slipping down deserted hallways. I remember sitting at Church holidays and ceremonies and celebrations.
I remember all the brothers and sisters who loved me and taught me – and cared for me when my mother left me to join the Church. And then who warned me of my evil ways when I left the Church to join the rest of society.
Some people think I’m crazy to look back. But I look back. I look back with love. I wouldn’t go back for anything, and I wouldn’t live it again given the choice. But I, at times, long to reconnect with people from then. With the people who knew me when I was a Moonie. Who know what it means and what it meant to be a Moonie. Who don’t think it’s weird to be a Moonie (or, at this point, don’t even know what a Moonie is).
It was a weird way to grow up. I stood out in not so pleasant ways. And not so pleasant things happened to and around me. But it was mine. And there was something special about thinking it was your job to save the world. About knowing you were chosen to make a difference. Who am I kidding – I’m still trying to make a difference.
I like looking back. I don’t stare. I don’t get caught there anymore. But I like looking back and finding what was in it that was good. Discovering the positive attributes it gave me and the lessons it taught me. Uncovering an appreciation for what it was and what it is and who I am.
When I find someone from back then – when I reconnect with the people from my past in the Church – it’s like they speak my language. When I say Father they know what I mean. When I say indemnity they know what that entails. When I say Holy Rock, they’ve been there. When I say Barrytown, a special smile comes to their face. When I share the convolutions and confusions that some of this has caused me they have that knowing look, that understanding nod, that encouraging hug.
They’ve been there. They’ve done that. They get it. They may like to look back, or they may not. But they get me in a way that those who ask me to explain don’t.
I like looking back.