It has been over six years but I can still remember the night almost perfectly. I was about to start high school, life was supposed to be on the incline. My dad kept reminding me how “high school are some of the best years of your life” so everything really should have been looking up. Sadly, they wasn’t the case. But you already knew that after the last post. And here is the parallel story to what was happening in my social life and thats what was happening in my home life.
I was wearing a grey t-shirt, it was a warm evening in mid-summer, I was walking into my house from soccer practice. As I climbed the steps to the front door I noticed and envelope sitting on my mailbox which was odd since the mail had already come much earlier that day. Nonetheless, I grabbed the letter to bring in to my parents. I looked at it, curious as to who had sent it and how it had gotten there. This is when I saw the return address: the sherifs office. This of course peaked my interest, why was the sherif contacting my family?
I ran up the stairs two by two to deliver the letter to my parents. I left the room they were in but carefully watched where the put the letter down so as to go look at it myself a little later on. I wish I hadn’t done that though. In big, bold print and highlighted in red were the words “notice of eviction.” My stomach dropped. The only other thing I managed to read and only because it was highlighted in yellow was that the court date was on my dads 50th birthday. I just stood there for a moment, I don’t even know if my hear was beating. I cried myself to sleep that night and many more after.
I had always known that money was tight. I remember wanting a pair of crocs when I was in fourth grade because Kate and our other friend, who we were all at the beach with, were going to get a second pair on the way home and I just wanted to go with them and get some and my mom screamed at me. She made me feel so bad but now I realize that she only did that because she felt so bad that she couldn’t get her daughter another pair of shoes.
Skiing is a very expensive sport and I needed new equipment constantly, I would bend and break poles often and I was still growing so I needed new boots, skis, pants, jackets every other season at least. Competitions cost money to register for along with the gas to drive to the competitions which could be as far as 8 hours away. Then you had to get hotels and food and it was all a lot of money that we didn’t have but I loved it and was good and my parents would make it work somehow.
The summer took a turn after that night. I never told my parents I knew so it was difficult for me to deal with that knowledge alone. I am a decently closed off person so it isn’t information I would run to my friends with but at this point it was more like a lack of friends anyway.
I would come home from soccer practices to find my mom crying in the kitchen. My mom doesn’t cry, I think in all of my life I had seen her cry maybe once before. i would walk by and say hi and ignore the fact that her tears were becoming an ingredient in our dinners. I am awkward in these kind of situations. There was also a lot of yelling that went on and arguing over “next steps.” They were searching for houses but it was hard to find any in town. We live just outside of the city so it is a sought after location. Their search for houses spread to surrounding towns but the start of school was growing near.
I came home one evening and my mother asked me how I would feel about moving to the country, living with my grandparents about 1.5 hours away, in another state. Ya, I didn’t exactly like that idea. I was not going to move to a brand new place just in time to start my freshman year of high school.
My mom said that moving to the country might be the only option but if I didn’t want to go they would make it work so that I could still live in town. Kates family would let me live with them and another family friend would as well so if that was what happened, I would be living away from the rest of my family for a while.
The rest of the summer was hard. I remember we were coming back from a camping trip and my brother and I were starving so we asked if we could get a snack at a gas station. My mom said no. She said that if we spent the money at the gas station that we wouldn’t have enough for dinner. We thought she was joking.
There were plenty of times when there wasn’t a lot of food in the house or our dogs would have to go a few days without food. Mostly, we borrowed dog food from Kate’s family. I did love that Kates house always had food. It was fully stocked and even had some sugary things unlike the food found at my house which was rarely chocolatey or candy or anything bad for you.
My dad was always between jobs but he worked so damn hard. My dad would get home from a full day at work and work for another four hours from home. He would sometimes come home and relax for a bit, fall asleep on the couch while watching tv only to wake up at midnight and do work fro three hours then proceed to wake up at six or seven in the morning. My dad always, always, always seemed to be working 10x harder than the other parents I knew yet he was never rewarded and we never had as much money as the other families whose fathers would go to work as they feel and get to travel for work with unlimited vacation days and have stay-at-home moms.
I am so very lucky though because at the end of the day I did have a family who all loved each other to the ends of the earth. We (for the time being) had a roof over our heads and usually food on the table. We all had our health and clean water. My life was a dream to many people so I did know that I had much to be grateful for. It was just hard to always remember this and see things this way but I tried my best to.
My mom walked dogs as a side job for extra money. I decided to join her in walking one afternoon. It was sunny out but not too hot because summer was dying down and fall would overtake the warmth soon. We were rounding a corner when my mom told me she had to tell me something. In hindsight, it must have been very hard for her to tell me this. She took a deep breath and looked at me with a weird combination or sadness and pity in her eyes. “We had to take all of the money from your savings…we’ll repay you….” I may have been young but I almost never went shopping and I saved every check so I had a decent sum of money in my savings. But the thing was, I never cared about the money or my parents ever paying me back. I just can’t imaging how dire the situation was that my parents, two grown adults with college degrees, had no other option than to drain their fifteen year old daughters savings account. My parents must have felt bad for me and doing such a thing to me and they must have felt sad, so sad, that this is what their lives had come to.
To this day I am not sure if I have ever been repaid but like I don’t care about the money, as long as it helps us and kept us afloat and enabled my younger brother to not know the severity of our situation, it was okay. We were all going to be okay. It was just going to take a while.