What we remember from childhood we remember forever - permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, eternally seen. ~Cynthia Ozick
I was born in the Spring of '84. My mother was in her early twenties, my sister was 6 and my brother was barely 2 1/2. Our father was in prison. I found that out when I was a nosy little 10 year old, snooping through a suitcase of old things in my mother's closet. If I've ever been told the reason for his imprisonment, I have forgotten. It's not important to my story anyway.
We were poor, but I didn't notice. We had a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. I didn't have a nurturing mother, no, she was too busy working nights and providing the necessities for her young family of four. But I had my big sister. She taught me the art of sitting in one spot, tuning out the world and devouring a good book. I'll be forever grateful for that.
When I was in kindergarten, we (with my mom's boyfriend) moved out of the apartment world and into a mobile home park. A real house!
Shortly after the move, I met Shannon. She was a few years older and her brother was my sister's age. I don't remember if we met on our own in the neighborhood or because Ashley and Michael had started dating. We were instant friends. Inseparable for the next 7 years. Together, we were greatness. She showed me that it was okay to be 100% myself. Almost daily, we would carry her boombox out to the drive way and in front of the whole world, we would dance our little hearts out. Olivia Newton-John. Paula Abdul. Janet Jackson. We rescued every stray cat we came across. We watched soap operas that were way beyond our years. We even let ourselves play with dolls and toys. We didn't care one bit what anyone thought of us. We were so cool. She was the first person that I sang with. We spent a huge chunk of our days singing. And we were good. We are still friends to this day.
One stormy night (I don't really remember if it was storming outside, but man was there one brewing in my little 9 year old world), my mother broke her boyfriend's heart. And that broke mine. After 4 years, I thought of him as "dad". She told him that she didn't love him, that there was someone else and that we were going to live with him instead. My brother took a weekend fishing trip with him, but other than that, he disappeared from our lives. I hated my mother for that. I hated her for many years.
All of a sudden, I was forced to live with a man that I didn't know, who wasn't nice and who had 3 bratty kids of his own. They were jerks. 2 boys and 1 girl. I wasn't the baby anymore, I was the 5th of 6. If I wasn't at school or with Shannon, I was in my room. Reading, snuggling with my Rusty Cat, living in my own little world. I dreamed of my real dad. What he looked like (which according to my uncle, was exactly like me, and that's why mom didn't love me like she should have), where he lived, did he ever think of me... if he had another family...if he was even still alive. My brother and sister had some memory of him, but I had nothing.
My childhood wasn't sad though. I had Shannon. I had friends. I had aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents that loved me. I had my books and my cat. I had an absolutely perfect first kiss and my first real love when I was only 10 years old. 2 different boys, 2 beautiful souls, both with equal share of my innocent little heart.