We Knew Poor
We knew how to do poor. Rob and I married young, and did it show. I was so sure I was going to have instant success at writing and people would come from far and near just to get something I wrote. Rob also was a leader in dreams. But what we didn’t know was that life just doesn’t work like that. I remember when we were so broke, we had to look for coins just to share a burrito. I remember wondering when all the good was going to come flooding our way.
I became comfortable in my nursing career, but remained hurt that when I mentioned writing, my parents were so afraid that I would up and quit my job, so they were super discouraging. I now see why. I wasn’t a writer, I just wanted to be one. I didn’t write daily, I waited to be hit in the head with a lightening strike of inspiration. Oh, the follies of youth.
Of course they didn’t want to encourage me. If I quit being a nurse, they would be supporting us and our hollow victories we dreamt of. So we remained bitter and poor for way too long. I laugh when I think of the little tricks. I know many of you also have had poor days. I know you have jobs that don’t make you proud, but aren’t you out there? Hold your head high! You have nothing to be ashamed of. Look what we had to do.
My parents had to splurge for a vehicle when we tried our hand at peyote plant farming in New Mexico. Our car had blown the engine in the Taco Bell drive thru. All was well until we found ourselves about three years behind in our tags. Were we worried? Nope! We bought 4 junker bikes because somewhere Rob had snagged a bike rack. We aligned the tires to be right over the color of the year. Then we took a little mud and splattered it over the plate. It made us look fit, and innocent. We rode around like that until I almost was jailed, then my parents paid the fine. My mom just shook her head when she saw our van, but she didn’t ridicule. She wasn’t happy, but I think she was impressed with our diversion.
When my license was suspended and Spencer was just a tyke, I knew I would get arrested if pulled over. So we would have drills how to act unconscious if we were pulled over. We had a code word, (COP!!) and he would drop like a rag doll!
I am not proud of those years, but I now understand them. Watching my boys try to figure out life has brought me full circle. I discourage foolishness, but if they fail, I am there to dust them off, stick a little money in their pocket, tell them I am proud and send them off to try again.
I do not parent in the black and white concrete way mine did, but I am closer to their way than I care to admit. They seem a bit smarter as I grow a bit older. Funny how that works. And now that I have received formal training, and my dad has watched me work seven days a week for a couple of years. He is proud of me and encourages my craft. I am taking it seriously now, so he has also.
I drive a 12 year old Volkswagen because it is paid for. It has a few glitches, like my roof that goes up when the radio turns on, a few scratches from backing into every one of our cars. The sucker just bounces off. It is an amazing auto. I preach no debt, savings, hard work, and honesty. They are so far ahead of us at their age, and I stand proud.
I am not ashamed of our years of terrible decisions. I have a picture in my heart of that van, the bikes, the mud, and the 6 years of expired tags. Of the three little guys who believed us gods, not mortal. And it stings slightly to remember the disappointment and the times they were sad we had so many failures. They were the kids in school with hippie parents, and it wasn’t a monument of pride they wore, but truth that haunts me still.
I did get my dream, I have become a writer because I put the hours and time in. I still have to fight the urge of fainting if I get pulled over. But even that makes me smile. The boys have dreams, but they are a bit more grounded than mine ever were.
Nothing like those good old days. Nothing!