Poorly Privileged


I learned the signs of being drunk before I knew Santa wasn’t real
Before I could tie my shoes
Or knew how to long divide
Slow choppy steps
Long stumbled words
The smell of mistakes
The fights, like bullets ricocheting off the walls
of what we called home
I knew I was a mistake, a one night stand gone wrong
Living in a household destined to break
Trying to hold it together
Like Bandaids slapped on an amputation
I learned what happened
when someone drank too much
And my brother got too hurt
And the sirens grew too loud
And I learned what happened when dad went to jail
Before I could spell the word alcoholic

And despite all this and more
I feel the most privileged of all my friends
Even the ones with two happy parents
And food filled pantry’s
The ones with brand new cars, and shoes and phones,
Because where I lacked in possession, I made up for in lessons
Taught to me on accident everyday of my childhood

My friends would stand in line for the next iPhone
While I stood in line at the bank,
wondering how my account could possibly be empty
After the weekends I gave away at work
That’s how I learned about co signing
and why not to trust my mom with money
That’s how I lost twenty seven hundred dollars
Before I turned 15

CPS visited the school
Where most kids didn’t know the acronym
When the phone in my classes rang
Most of my classmates wished to be called down to the office
Maybe they had a doctors appointment,
or a lunch awaiting them
But I knew better.
Wishing I could avoid sitting in an office
Questions thrown at me like a ramped up pacer test
Somehow we went from “how is your day”
To “has he hit you”
And on my back to class,
trying my best to avoid the pity full looks
casted on me by the office attendants

I had a plethora of examples of what not to do
Don't have a child with someone you don’t love
Don't leave the heating bill unpaid in the midst of winter
Don’t drink too much

Now I’m in college,
Focusing on my future like I promised myself I would
Paving my way through an overgrown forest
With a pair of tweezers
But I’m doing it
And I’m doing my best
And better yet; I’m happy
So I’m thankful for my childhood
And everything I given when I given the least

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