On the way home from Youth Group tonight I began thinking about something that I hadn’t even brought into the forefront of my mind lately. I had used this same story to outline a book I was working on while in college, but alas, that book has been sitting on my hard drive collecting dust (figuratively). I haven’t wanted to stir up those days again until tonight when I started thinking about the actual incident. My family was relatively well to do when I was growing up. We weren’t rich, but we had enough to do what we wanted and all the things that I couldn’t even had imagined. I am not sure exactly where we stood financially as I was only 8 or 9 at the time, but I knew at least enough then to know that what happened was not what most families had to deal with on a daily basis.
From what used to be good financial standing turned into debt and job loss. This was well before the financial crisis that started a few years ago. It was the early 90’s and my family lost everything. We were forced to scrape by on little or nothing, and most of this comes from my child mind as I recall it, but we moved from our huge 3,500 sq ft house into two rooms at a motel by the freeway. I can still remember exactly which motel it was, and what room we stayed in. The place may have changed hands, owners, and names, but every time I pass it either on the freeway or on the street I know exactly what it meant for my family and me. Though I am not sure my parents would feel the same way it taught me to be content. Sure I have my moments of wants and desires for the things that my flesh wants more than it needs, but what I am talking about is that it taught me to understand the place I could be again.
It was several months that we stayed in two connected rooms at the motel. My sisters, my parents, and me spread over the 4 beds that took up the two rooms. I can still remember the Saturday mornings trying to watch cartoons while sandwiched between the foot of the bed and the dresser on which the TV sat. It had to be no more than 4 feet, because even then I wasn’t tall, but still even I felt cramped. My neck craning upwards, strained trying to watch Teenage Mutant Turtles or whatever other show happened to be playing during the regular line-up. Even then I could feel that mentioning this place where my family lived was not exactly something that I really, truly wanted to talk about. Being a nine year old you usually don’t care about what you say, but I was careful. I don’t think any of my friends or teachers ever really knew that I was there. It almost feels as if I was ashamed, and as if somehow I was to blame for what happened. Suppose that it would be the natural tendency of a child to think that they would be the problem. For all that I hated about that place. The smell of the carpets, the way the sheets scratched my skin, and how the air conditioning hummed incessantly from the unit in the wall. Even after all that I found that it caused me to grow. I found security even there. At nights sometimes or when my sisters would pick on me I liked to nestle myself between the wall and the side of the bed. There was about a foot gap between the bed and the wall near the bathroom that I would just lay in, sometimes I would even pull the sheet off the bed and build a makeshift fort over the gap. It was my security and even thinking about it makes me laugh, but it was my safe place.
To get back on point though, the months that my family spent in that motel was nothing I could potentially describe properly or quite accurately. One point that I will mention is that I started writing more, or at least possibly for the first time. Who knows? That is where I understood words…I mean I knew how to read, and write, but I mean I found what words could mean for me. I was already a shy child, unless I was around family, a fact most people who know me today would disagree with. It was a phase that I needed to grow through and even the in midst of that tragedy of having nothing, and being on the brink of homelessness I found what I needed to get me through the rest of the my life…writing. God was the ultimate reason that I am alive today, but that is another story with a completely separate point.