California State University, East bay
February 07, 2013
Something told me to take a drive that morning, so I did. With no particular purpose or destination in mind, I drove. While on the road, in the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of my past. There she was, the reason I was driving. In a family of four, there was a little girl around the age of four, who reminded me of myself. There were two other girls which I assumed were her older sisters, no more than 3 years between them all. Their mother reminded me of my mother so much I knew at that moment that this was not just any drive. I wanted to ask the mother a question, the same one I had asked my mother as we were walking down the road and had no destination to call home.
We had overstayed our welcome at a local shelter, and it was time to go on the road again. “Where are we going?” This-, was the question I would ask my mother when my feet became sore from walking. We’d been walking on the same street for hours from the lack of bus fare. “To get some rest,” she answered, as she grabbed my hand and used her pinkie to rub my inner-wrist. We did not have a home or a car of our own, but we had love and affection for one another. My mother taught us how to love through struggle if nothing else, and love has driven me to desire success despite the struggles I face in life. I learned at an early age that some people had it easier than others and it is no excuse to give up or settle for less. I understood this so well because my family did not have it easy. We were poor and had less than most. It is much easier to understand difference when you are the different one. “What type of house do you live in?” My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Desoto asked the class. I raised my hand and shouted, “I live in shelters!” When my teacher asked me what kind of shelter I lived in, - I knew I had said too much. My mother always told me to not tell our family business to people, especially teachers. I quickly cupped my mouth with my hands and covered my ears with my shoulders. “It’s quite alright,” Mrs. Desoto said. Mrs. Desoto and I were the only ones that knew what kind of shelter I was talking about. My over sharing would not prove to be so positive in junior high school where groups of kids would tease me for being poor; I quickly became “Shelter Girl”. They treated me horribly for wearing the same clothes for a week, and for eating free lunch, which I appreciated so much! One day, I told my English class that I lived in shelters and somehow the whole school found out. I lost friends and my self-esteem, and my academic performance was on a downward spiral. It was at that point, I understood that life would only get harder and I had to struggle to understand my self-worth. I thought of all of this as I stared at the family that reminded me of my past. I began to think on the young girls so deeply that I began to cry, believing that if their life was anything like mine, they would struggle to understand their self-worth while in absolute poverty. They would struggle with the thought of not being good enough for success and prosperity. Those young girls and their mother will have to climb hills that seem to never descend. Although they may have one another, they all will have to take steps individually to reach their…