Just Remember to Breathe…
I hold my breath when I get stressed out.
So I might as well be underwater.
Growing up, I was poor. My family didn’t have much, but I wouldn’t have known that. My parents and my older brothers spoiled me with toys and candy and they distracted me from the fact that we lived in a dangerous neighborhood. I was told that gun shots were firework noises. My mom kept me busy in school and extracurricular activities. I never paid attention to how we couldn’t take walks in our own neighborhood or how every Halloween I was taken to trick-or-treat somewhere nicer than where we lived. Everything was made into an adventure.
But I’m twenty-five, now.
I still live with my mother and the struggles of poverty aren’t hidden from me anymore. I see every heartbreak, every dollar that goes toward food, bills, rent. It all plays out in front of me.
The city I live in is the latest hit for gentrification. New buildings and companies are popping up all over the place and property is being developed like it’s fucking Legos. This means landlords are buying and flipping over and over again. This means that people like me and my mother are being treated as numbers instead of human beings.
We’re being driven out of our home of over sixteen years.
My mother is devastated from not being able to find a new place to live. We have until the first of the month.
Consider me drowning.
I’ve been seeing her cry more than I ever have and all I’ve wanted is for me to be in a better position to take care of everything. She’s been strong my whole life, but the other day she couldn’t get out of bed and asked me to hold her hand and pray for us. That has never happened before. She’s never been so worried that she asked me to do that. It was terrifying, to see my mother so fragile and afraid. To know that she’s so tired that she’s looking to me for strength, now.
I think back to my childhood and I want the roles to be reversed. I want my mother to be naïve to poverty and for me to able to convince her that those loud noises are just fireworks.
I’d tell her that it’s all just a celebration for us transitioning into a new and better life. And that the world is rejoicing in us finally getting what we’ve always fought for. “Our miracle is here,” I’d say to her.
And I’d hold my breath as I lifted her above water so that she can see the fireworks above the shore.
Georgia St. Jones is a California broke girl using music, art, and literature as a way to be universal and staff contributor for The Strange is Beautiful.
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