I was not born into a wealthy family. For most of my life, I grew up in a home that struggled to get by. It wasn't because my dad was lazy, or because my mother did not keep a budget well. My dad is actually one of the hardest working people I know. He was a Baptist preacher, but worked as an electronic technician during the week. My mother spent our income wisely. We always had food on the table, and we were always warm in the winters. No, we struggled because we always seems to have luck against us. I mean, I was raised into not believe in luck, but as life would have it, something always happened to set us back.
The summer before the fifth grade was one of the worst I remember. My dad had been offered a job at a church a long way from the town we had grown up in. Moving there would change everything. New schools, new friends, new attitudes on life. The church had arranged for a parsonage, but before we could move in, it had to be remodeled.
After several weeks of staying with an old lady from the church, the house was nearly completed. We moved all of our belongings into the house. A problem with the plumbing meant anyone who needed to use the bathroom would have to walk to the church. For my mother's sake, we stayed at the lady's house one more night.
It was on the television, in the papers. Reports of arson, a house burned down.
We lost everything. Literally, up in smoke. All of our belongings were scorched: clothes, furniture, memories, our bright future. We had nothing but what we had with us. But we survived. We did not live a life with any luxuries for years. We accepted charity, my father took a job as a janitor at the school I attended. He always had a smile on his face. I cried late at night sometimes.
We lived in the housing projects for a while, we could not afford electricity for a few months. We borrowed the neighbors and paid them with what we could.
Eventually, we would be able to afford a small mobile home, and a rented lot in a trailer park. Sometimes we could not afford food, and we did not qualify for assistance from welfare, since both my parents were employed. My mother worked as an assistant at the county offices, filling out documents, running numbers. My dad did not want to mop floors anymore. He took the biggest risk of his life. He quit his job and attended the university in town full time. Now all the financial burden was on my mother. I thought my father was lazy, I thought we was being irresponsible. My mother spent hours at work, making barely enough to get by. Most of our food came from the local food pantry. My dad bought expensive books and sat around reading them for long hours. I resented him. He did no work. I cried late at night sometimes.
My father graduated from school when I was a freshman in high school. Four years had gone by since we moved from our comfortable life near family, near old friends. In all those years, we were never hungry. We were never cold in the winters. At last, my father had completed his schooling. When he started, he barely could speak english. He had trouble communicating, and sometimes he still does. But he graduated with a degree in sociology. He found a job as a counselor for underpriviledged children at the elementary school my little brother attended. Throughout all of this, our parents never enrolled us in this program. We were poorer than these at times, but there was hope at the end of the dark tunnel. both my parents were employed, and we managed to get by, buying our own food, our own clothes.
My parents are getting along well today. They still live in the trailer, but we recovered after those long, painful years. Thinking back, I cry late at night sometimes. We made it. We made it.
I love a girl who burned my heart down. As the walls of my heart crumbled into glowing embers on the bare floor of my soul, I became enraged. I had built that love up, I nurtured it from it's weak, infantile days. And now it smoldered, ashes blowing up into the air, a pile of soot, black and soon cold. As I grew to accept this pillar of nothingness, something I did not expect happened. A phoenix. In it's eyes was a dim glimmer. A revived hope. Although everything I had was lost, here is a new chance, a clean slate. My love for her is stronger than it was, a renewed emotion. So I wrote her a letter. I wrote her my heart, I wrote her my secret. The clouds of smoke that once blackened the sky were gone. I would do anything to make this last. I still wait for a response. I still wait.