They know they can survive
Well, my neighbors are back. So much for the afternoon screaming.
Years ago, I was casually talking to someone at my gym and I mentioned that I grew up poor.
A fella there overheard and scoffed.
Him: Nonea y’all know what it’s like to be poor.
Me: What do you mean by that?
Him: (shaking head) You’re not poor unless you’re black and’ve gone hungry.
Me: Well, one of those two applies to me. I’ve had sleep for dinner plenty of times.
I grew up before the microwave. Or, at least, before the microwave was affordable.
Both my parents worked, so I’d come home, alone, and unlock the door to our tiny apartment and go to the sink.
I’d go to the sink for two reasons: (1) To wash my hands, and (2) because my mom would always put two unopened cans of Chef Boyardee in a pot with hot water trickling out of the faucet to warm them up.
Ideally beef ravioli but, really, whatever was on sale; cheese ravioli was always such a disappointment.
Then again, I grew up wearing homemade clothes. My grandma knit those hats my brother and I are wearing in the pic above.
Anywho, my mom always left a note that said something like:
Please try to save some for your sister – I love you!
It was then that I realized that “serving size” was a joke. That was dinner. She wanted me to put it in a bowl but that just meant something else for me to do so I’d just eat it outta the can and tell her I washed the dish.
In hindsight, the canned spaghetti and meatballs were the worst.
I mean, I still ate it, but, yeah…
Watching the news these days, I’m reminded of things like that. People waiting in lines for food at the food banks.
I remember all the goddamn lines we stood on, growing up.
One fall day, my mom bundled my sister and me (my brother was away) in our warmest clothes and we stood in line for hours for something. I complained the entire time. Finally, she grabbed me by the shoulders and said:
They’re giving away free vaccine shots and we can’t afford to get you two shots any other way. If you want to eat tonight, you’ll wait.
And then she turned away and tried to hide the fact that she was crying.
Man, I felt awful at that moment.
I was 12? I’m 47 now and, while I don’t remember how the shot felt, I remember how making my mom feel inadequate felt.
As a parent now, I feel it all the more. I do what I can. They did what they could.
Realize it’s a luxury that I don’t have to worry about my next meal any more. If I want a party pack of tacos, I buy myself a goddamn party pack of tacos.
I have sleep for dinner these days outta choice, not necessity.
This lady named Josephine Hart once said something like: Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.
This pandemic is filling my head with such sad thoughts, I cannot even begin to tell you. But, perhaps that’s for the best.
Cause, I know I’m damaged.
If nuthin else, I survive shit, even when I don’t really wanna.
Podcast Version: Damaged People are Dangerous
Location: my empty apartment, now with lots of cheesecake
Mood: can’t look at another piece of cheesecake
Music: Man, I was dealt these cards and I played dem out (Spotify)
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