I remember so many things about starting a new school year. It meant I was finally going to get new shoes to replace the ones I long outgrew with the holes and sometimes cardboard placed in the soles. I would get a few pieces of clothing as needed and since I was the oldest, no hand-me-downs, even though my little sister was physically larger than myself. Some of the clothing was hand-made by my mother or grandmother and did look homemade. Sometimes my grandma had enough savings to take us to Federal’s Department store for a dress or two, my dad had more important things to spend his money on when he was working. I can’t remember where we purchased our shoes. I didn’t really care about the actual school supplies, it made me nauseated to look at them!
It meant I had to brace myself for another year of bullies and mini-aholes. The “popular” kids with all the right clothes and all the right words. The teachers that were supposed to be teaching me, but never saw me, or pretended not to. I was the plain little mouse that looked out-of-place in the homemade clothes and one long braid down past my butt. It was worse than being Amish, I was poor. When I was very young, we were only allowed one bath a week, whether we needed it or not. When we got to live with grandma, we were cleaner. So dirty, poor, oddly dressed, you get the picture.
I could never concentrate on the menial subjects my teachers were always blabbing about. You see, I found it much more compelling to wonder if there was going to be any dinner tonight. If my ghost of a father would stumble home after we went to bed hungry and decide that we needed to be punished for being born. My teacher would try to pry my brain away from my true life of poverty, abuse and neglect, to a world where 2 + 2 actually equalled 4. Did I care at the time? Hell, no! After a good beating for no reason I would worry for days about what evils awaited me that evening. I knew that I could be as good as gold and still not be safe. I heard of spankings and punishments and knew, the older I got, that bad kids were punished, not good ones. That’s why it took me so long to believe. To even be able to comprehend things such as a Holy Father, because mine was evil. Forgiveness, because I had never known mercy and to give, because I had nothing to give anyone, not even myself.