I never thought that I would be in this place again. This place that is somewhere between hungry and okay, between having just enough and not having any at all. I thought that when I moved out for the second time, when I started living on my own and buying my own groceries and living supplies, that it wouldn't happen anymore and that even if it did, it would only be for a day or two, until I could go shopping and in that mean time, there was a McDonalds or a Taco Bell or something else nearby.
You see, my childhood was an odd one. My life started out as the daughter of a copper miner, a journeyman mechanic at was once the most productive copper mine in the world. See that penny from the 70's in your hand? Yeah, that copper probably came from the ground just outside of my quaint little hometown. My grandfather, my father, my uncle, and every other male in that town over the age of 18 worked in the life-giving Magma copper mine. Look it up. There's a book called Mother Magma and it will tell you everything, if I could just remember the author's name. Something Hispanic... anyway. But that's where my life was from 4 months old til I was about 8 or 9. We lived in a well-kept 2 bedroom house on a quiet street in a town of about 4500 ppl, a quintessential Mayberry. The yard was green, we knew all of our neighbors all the way down either side of the street by name, and the elementary school I went to was only a block away. To the left when you exited the front door, we had Rudy, Esmeralda, Rudy, and Inis. The next house was my mother's older brother, my uncle Timmy and his family, Aunt Belinda, Buddy Dave, Dougy, and Cody. If you kept going down that way, you'd get to a dead end turn that led you up another street to the left and if you turned right onto Ave B, you would get to my grandparents house and across from them, my mother's little sister, Aunt Cindy and whatever boyfriend she had at the time, and her youngest son, Austin. Everyone I wanted, needed, cared about was right there within less than a half mile of my house, my bedroom. It was wonderful.
First, and this is important, there was one bar in San Manuel, Arizona, and I don't remember the name of it then, but it might have been called The Place (very creative, these miners, I tell you... guess what the high school mascot was? Can you? Yep, you're right. The Miners -_-). My Aunt Cindy worked there, and she was very good at it. She was also a 5'7" blond, blue-eyed Barbie doll in those days, so you know...
Anyway, one day, and being as young as I was, I don't really remember the whole story, but my dad got caught with a power tool that he was not allowed to take home in his lunchbox. Now, from what I've gathered over the years, this was a very heavy power tool, but I also remember not being able to lift my dad's lunchbox ever, empty or full, and I can't say as he would have noticed the difference either, but I don't know. Another thing is that he kept it in his truck the whole time, and so after lunch wouldn't have lifted it until he got home. Well, as he went through the gates one day, the guard (by the way, my grandmother was a guard at one of the other gates, he should have gone to that one) said that he had to search my dad's truck. This was highly unusual, my dad had been working there for 8 years and had never been searched for anything, let alone by a gate guard (who, if my 60-some year old grandmother could do it, was not that cool, really). The man opened my dad's lunchbox and found, lo and behold, a very expensive, very NOT my dad's, power tool. I think it was some kind of drill, might even have been a Makita, and if you're familiar, Makita drills are downright awesome... and downright expensive, too. To make a long story short, my dad was accused of stealing it. There were trials, lawyers, and because my dad had refused to join the Union there, ppl were against him. More than that, my dad can be, pardon my language, an asshole. He had enemies, and it was obvious, because my dad was fired. My mother stayed at home. She sold Avon, she cleaned the house, she took care of me and it was happy... but then she had to find a job and she had to leave me with a man that, because of his work, I didn't really know very well. I stopped having birthday parties that year, and I don't think my dad was ever at any of them anyway.
So my mom got a job...but my mom has no high school diploma. She doesn't even have a GED, so she worked as a waitress in a small town Mexican food restaurant and brought my churros every night that no one wanted to eat. God, I love churros. I want one now :( This was in 1996 to 1997. We lived out of meager savings for a while, but my parents had been the average American family: they had money and they used it. I remember the day our brand new white Ford truck was towed away. I watched from inside the screen door and I cried because, even at 8 years old, I knew what was happening. I watched us have yard sales... I watched the food in the house dwindle to almost nothing and I wondered what was going to happen next. Pretty soon, my parents had to make a decision. We were being kicked out of the house that they were renting to own, the only house that I really remembered living in (the one before, we'd moved out when I was 3 and 1/2, so yeah). They bought a trailer in the "new" trailer park (it was built in the 70's as opposed to the old one, built in the 50's) for $2000, pretty much all they had left. The roof leaked, the floor was rotting, and if you layed an egg on the end of the counter, it would roll into the sink. I had a lot of fun with that counter. It had 10 year old swamp cooler on top, and no heater whatsoever.
Dad fixed it as best he could and we moved in. In the windowsill of my tiny bedroom, the one that I did my best to personalize, the one that my cat gave birth in, the one that at one point housed Andrew and I for over a year, there is a tiny engraving. It says, Helen Bernice Jorg Dec. 1997 and then the little symbol I had come up with for my name. It's still there and sometimes it can make me cry. I lived in that house with my parents, a potbelly pig, a bird, a dog, a cat, and three-four fish for 10 years. A decade.
Dad could never hold a job after that. Something always went wrong, or he opened his mouth at the wrong time... there was always something. Mom eventually got a job at Minit Market and it payed a little more. It's the only thing that kept us fed, kept us clothed, funded my years as a wrestling cheerleader and my years of driving to see Andrew every weekend. I didn't understand how she did it back then...but I remember the first 4 years or so. They were hard years. Dad was in and out of jail, but that's a story for another time, and at 9 years old, I learned how to stay home alone. We had no choice. By then, my uncle and aunt had both moved away, and my grandparents with them. We had no money for a sitter for a girl that could take care of herself anyway. Dad showed me how to shoot the .22 we kept in the bedroom and how to take it down if I had to. Mom told me to call her before I attempted to use the stove. I remember being 10 years old, standing in front of a gas stove, making myself fried Spam and noodles for dinner as my mom gave me a hug and left for work.
But that was on a good day. On a bad day, there would be a small pot of buttered noodles on the stove to fill three people. Dad was dad... he ate a lot even on his least hungry days. I knew that. Mom worked... she needed all the strength she could get and strength came from eating well. I knew that, too. So I took smaller portions, enough to keep my stomach from growling and bugging me, but not enough to fill me up. Besides, I figured I had a free lunch and a free breakfast as school every day, why should I take food away from my parents, who got nothing except what my mom was able to steal during the day and pay for when her check came in? And then on the worst days, the ones in summer, when Mom had very little hours and Dad was home, we didn't have dinner. We had maybe some popcorn that we found at the back of the cabinet, or I would use my baby sitting money to buy a few packages of Ramen for the house, but that was all we had. Those were the nights when I couldn't sleep because I was too hungry, so I'd get up and drink some water and go back to bed, get up drink some water, go back to bed... and then peed like crazy the next morning.
*Edit* I told you to remember the bar, but I never brought it back up. I was too swamped in my own hungry misery, I suppose... but Aunt Cindy worked at that bar and she was a great waitress, a great bartender, and a great source of information. About a year after we moved into the trailer, she was working there at the bar and talking to some guy that we all knew. He had worked with my dad. He had hated my dad, hated him for his pretty wife and cute kid, hated him for getting the journeyman job, hated him, hated him. My aunt found this out and came to us crying one day, because this man admitted while he was blind drunk to her that he had put that drill in my dad's lunchbox and then told the guards at the gate to check, knowing what gate my dad went to every day, knowing that he left his lunchbox in the truck after lunch because they ate together every day. But because he was drunk and my aunt was known as a whore, the confession wouldn't hold up in court. And pardon my language, but I have to tell you this the way it is. My dad beat the holy living shit out of that man about a week later after confronting him and getting another admittance and a sneer in the face. I should tell you more about my dad. He's wild. Now, continue...
The point of this post is that's where 10 years of my life was spent, that in-between spot of hungry and not hungry. I didn't want to come back here. I promised myself I never would, even if it meant flipping burgers for the rest of my life, I never never would, not after living with them the last time.
But here I am. And I caught myself doing the same old thing last night with dinner, and today as well: I'm drinking water to stay full because I know that Andrew is the one working and Andrew is the one that needs his strength. I can lay in bed all day, I can sit around and do nothing and keep my strength up. But he's got physical training, and a demanding job, and hundreds of other things, like dealing with Jeff the Jerk all day. It's like when I do laundry: his work clothes first. I can run around the house butt naked with the blinds closed, I don't need clean clothes, lol... him, not so much.
The problem was that they messed up the account number. They added 4 digits at the end where they didn't belong and so, nothing came to us. They put in the change yesterday, but Andrew went back to check today and it hasn't gone through yet. Until it goes through, he can't apply for what they call Casual Pay, which is money from our check sent between paydays to help out. If we get that, we'll get it sometime next week. If we don't, we should get October first's pay, along with all of September's pay, on the first of Oct. Until then, I guess I'm in this place again, but as with all things, it's only temporary. Only temporary.