I was born much differently than the way I live now. It wasn't this bare minimum all my life. Once, I lived in the greatest house in the world with my father, my mother, and my sister. Before that though, I was born in the Bronx. Lived in a walkup with my mother, father, and sister. My mom never knew money. She was fine without it. In fact, she came from a town that she called 'homely'. If it weren't for my grandmother, she wouldn't have ever left it. I guess in a selfish way, I'm glad she did. Because she met my father. And then...well, they let romance
take its course.
My father grew up very comfortable. He was the first son of a community lawyer. Very respected and such. He helped poor people, I think. Long story short, my father grew up expecting to continue on and a well-respected man. He loved the city but didn't really love the expectations. I've heard the story a million times. He turned eighteen, moved out, met my mother, and began lackadaisically studying law.
My father worked as a personal assistant for years. He didn't work in the community. He worked in conglomerates. Big shot kind of shit. Eventually, he and my uncle formed their own law firm. Dad had two kids and a wife to feed. He felt the pressure to work harder and faster but there was joy and happiness in the family for a while. We loved each other.
I was eight when my the cracks in an already reshifting marriage began to show. We left the Bronx, moved into some gentrified version of Brooklyn. Whatever it was, it was nice. Quiet. It's where I spent the next three years watching my family fall apart. That house was where I had some of the greatest times of my life but it didn't last as long as it should have. So, are you following along with the story now? Got all the old details down? Good. Here's where it gets...well, weird.
I was about ten when shit hit the fan. Dad began to work harder, longer. He didn't seem unhappy. No, he seemed to like
to work. He liked his job. Mom hated it. Said she felt like we lived with a ghost. The fighting started, more enthusiastic than ever. Daddy slept on the couch more. We'd come down to breakfast and he'd be there tidying up, folding his blanket and settling his suitcase before he kissed us all and said goodbye. It got worse over the months. He started spending the week in Manhattan instead of making the trip back home. And then a miracle happened, his brother, my favorite uncle, began to come around.
He'd stay with us, do homework with us, read us stories. And he'd be there the next morning. On the couch but he was still there. I always thought it was nice of him to come visit us. He made me miss my dad a little less considering they were so much alike. There was no fighting when Uncle Ziggy was around. There was no yelling, there were no disagreements, there was no tension. I don't think I noticed anything wrong because it felt like what an actual family felt like. I didn't think it was bad.
Mom said they were getting a divorce within a year. Daddy moved out, Uncle Ziggy moved in. I didn't really know how to feel. I loved my father, missed him. But Mom seemed happier without him. The tension left our lives again but so did my dad. Even though he was only a train ride away and I saw him every weekend, it felt like another world. He felt like another person. He had a condo. My sister and I shared a room. He was so much more attentive, loving, and kind. I didn't know they were in a custody battle. I didn't know the judge would ask us who we wanted to stay with. I didn't know breaking down and crying before saying 'I don't know' meant that both my parents would end up looking so devastated.
Mom got full custody. Daddy didn't put up much of a fight. Said he didn't want things to be ugly
. I remember bouncing around a U-Haul with my sister four days after my eleventh birthday. My life changed almost immediately after that. We left New York. Mom married Uncle Ziggy. We traveled. They bought this little bus and we moved from city to city. From house to house. Eventually, they just stopped renting places and began to buy land. We went from Brooklynites to hippies almost overnight. It was hard adjusting to life without tv or video games but I managed.
My uncle quit his job, devoted his life and his time to my mother. To us. He'd never been too ambitious anyway. It seemed to work even if people looked at me weird when I said my mom was dating my uncle. My mother got the man of her dreams. The life of her dreams. My sister and I...well, we made our way. I went from wearing knee-high stockings and a school uniform to flowers in my hair and running barefoot through the woods. We talked to my father once a month. Sometimes twice. But we're off the grid. Have been for years. I can't even remember what it was li
When my uncle pulled our RV into Ashwick, it was two months after my seventeenth birthday. Mom says we'll love Ashwick, it's where she grew up. Some island called Santa Veronica? I don't know but I believe her. When I left New York, I wore Abercrombie & Fitch and my hair in pigtails. Now, I wear what I make and my hair is the way that I want. I won't pretend it won't be nice to settle down for once. To be around people my name and not 'hangin with nature' as my mom says during our daily meditation. Don't get me wrong. I love our life, I love our freedom. But I can't wait to see what else is out there.