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The Blood Lust

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The Blood Lust

My parents met at a party in September, 1975. A month later they left Rhode Island and drove cross-country together in the Volkswagen bus that my mom had bought for the trip. They brought along my mom's dog Sagebrush and two of her friends. Actually, the two friends, the dog, and my mom brought my dad. He wanted a ride out to his friend's place in Ohio, but ended up staying with them all the way to California. My mom's two friends left in California, and my mom and dad ended up driving home together.

They didn't have much money. By the time they got to Santa Barbara, they were so poor that they stood wearing sandwich boards advertising a soup and sandwich special at the Bluebird Café in exchange for a free lunch, which they split. They also worked as telemarketers and house cleaners. They ate very cheaply. Lots of cheese, my dad says, and crackers. For two weeks, my mom didn't eat; she drank only apple juice -not because they were starving poor, but because she wanted to cleanse her body.

Mostly they slept in the bus, but they had friends to visit across the country, and for a while, they stayed in Virginia with my mom's father's cousin, whom they barely knew. The only times they ever ate meat were when it was served to them at people's houses, for it was far too expensive for them to buy on their own. They began to find, as they made their way across the country, that it felt heavy and unhealthy, especially red meat and pork. When they got back east three months later, they moved into a small house in Narragansett, Rhode Island, with rotting kitchen walls so soft that you could stick a finger through. One day, my mom thought back and realized, slightly revolted, that the last piece of meat she had eaten was a hotdog with sauerkraut and mustard at the Oak Hill Tavern, months ago. Right then and there, she decided that if she couldn't kill something herself, she wouldn't eat it. I was born five years later, and my mom and dad began their parental journey with the intention of raising a family of vegetarians.

I was five years old, and pale. My parents were concerned. At about the same time they noticed I was paler than my fellow kindergarteners, my dad came down with pneumonia, from working with the insulation in our unfinished attic.
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