Nature vs. Nurture
Jeanette by the age of 10 had already become quite independent. She had one older brother by 8 years which by that difference placed her alone in that regard. Her Dad was a steel worker that worked rotating shifts meaning that he was most often sleeping or at work during the day. Dad was a hardworking WASP, a 32·Mason and a respectable Presbyterian in attendance, but not always as to primary practices. This was in the 50’s – 70’s, and civil rights and respect for people of color, and other religious beliefs were not a point of blind respect. This is were Mom came into play.
Mom was a pure Angel in human form. But, she did not take on the role of a guiding light for other than loving all, that is except when taking on Dad when he would make racist remarks at dinner about fellow employees in the steel mill. “Arthur!” she would proclaim, “Really?” Neither parent provided any direct guidance to Jeanette as to her activities or interests. What they did provide was freedom for her to take on friends and activities individually. They had a cottage on Lake Erie at which Jeanette spent most of her summers with a 14 ft boat powered by a 40HP Scott outboard engine. This was her escape (Dad paid for the gas endlessly). The cottage was one of about 20 along a cliff, which provided rotating come-and-go friends during the summer.
Jeanette slept on the screened-in porch with the evening breezes common to that location. Her favorite evenings were when the wind would pickup significantly, and the combination of the wind and the sound of the waves braking on the beach was most comforting. Occasionally, the Northern Lights would appear. This was one of Jeanette’s major enjoyments to envision people and polar bears in the streams of light shimmering in the night sky.
Getting her driver license when she turned 16, Dad would leave the 450 HP Chrysler at the cottage when he was in Pittsburgh for his work week. So now Jeanette was fully engaged during the day and night with the boat and Chrysler respectively. Specifically, the days were spent in the boat either skiing with friends or exploring the lengths of the creek that emptied into the lake. However, in the evening, it was all about the freedom of the Chrysler in escaping either to the local town on the weekend for socials at the firehouse …. or occasionally an excursion to Ohio to a lake front village where 3.2 beer was legal. Her nurturing up to this point had been quite normal for those times.
At age 18, Jeanette entered Penn State in the pursuit of engineering and off to State College for her first time away from her parents. Although Presbyterian in practice, her Mom’s doubt of Jeanette’s true spiritual interest made her suggest: “Daughter, if you do go to church at State College, then I suggest a Methodist Church …. They have the best music.” Jeanette did not follow through on her suggestion. Christian faith in general, and social groups specifically, left her wanting as to her expanding emotions and confusion as to how she dealt with both boys and girls her age. Reflecting on her excursions to Ohio during the previous 2 summers when out with the girls, she didn’t get into the same type of bantering of them with the young men at the bars. It was too flirtatious, too false for her.
Returning home for the Holidays at the end of the first term, her Mom noted significant differences in their conversation. Jeanette’s points of interest were more expansive in general, but most focused on the interests and rights of people of her age. Jeanette made continuous comments regarding a ‘Nancy’ in her dorm. 'Nancy said this and did that, and how amazing this young ‘lady’ was'. The shift from ‘girls’ to ‘lady’ in her speech was quite noticeable. Jeanette also dressed and presented herself differently from when she left for college. Jeanette’s hair was significantly shorter, and her stature was more formidable. There was no ‘girlish’ perspective about her now. Interactions with her Dad did not change much however. For him, Jeanette was still his ‘little’, but grown, princess. Then again, he really never engaged himself with her as he had her older brother.
Returning to campus for the second term, Jeanette thought about rushing a sorority. In her first week back, she approached Nancy about joining her in this pursuit. They were at the Rath Skeller bar by themselves. Nancy was not game , but rather dismissive of this point. Jeanette was taken back by Nancy’s response. Nancy reached out and grabbed Jeanette’s both hands and squeezed them. “Jeanette. Don’t you really know about yourself?” She continued as she placed her hands on Jeanette’s face. “The sorority is NOT you. You are a unique individual that desires the type of female relationship that is more endearing, and that I can provide. I have known you only for the 10 weeks of the first term. BUT, you are clearly like me and desire a woman-woman relationship. AM I WRONG?” Jeanette stood up from the bar and started to walk away. Nearly exiting, she stopped suddenly placing her hands to her face. She turned towards the bar. ALL was suddenly clear. She returned to the bar and kissed Nancy on both cheeks. Nancy stood, embraced Jeanette and kissed her passionately. The guys at the bar howled and applauded their approval.
There is nothing in her NURTURING that led to Jeanette’s sexual preferences. That is clear. It was NATURE’s doing for who she is. If anything, her healthy nurturing had delayed her nature kicking in. Her Mom and Dad would come to understand AND accept this. Her mother, who prayed on her knees every night before going to bed, accepted that this is a part of Christ’s LOVE. TRUE and PURE CHRISTAINANITY. Jeanette and Nancy in the 3rd term began attending church together – Methodist. In the following year at State, they got an off-campus apartment. What a very handsome couple they were ... and remain.