Wednesday, May 03, 2006

My Story 1

I was looking over my previous posts, and I realized that I haven't said much about my past. I want to take some time to tell you part of my story now:

I was born into a single parent family, consisting of my Mother, my older half-sister, and me. My sister's father was a deadbeat alcoholic, and my father was a deadbeat alcoholic, so my mother took care of us with the assistance of what was then called "welfare." She was a hardcore biker lady, who frequented the worst pubs and bars. I'm talking about those places that always have grand names like "The King Edward," or the "Royal York," but smell like a bathroom, inside and out. These places always had the two doors: one for "gentlemen," and one for "ladies and escorts," a product of a long-gone era. My sister and I were the two stringy-haired kids sitting on the curb outside these holes, waiting for our mother inside. Though the image of kids waiting for their parents outside a bar would shock the modern world, back in the seventies it was somehow more acceptable. Besides, we kids knew how to make up good stories for anybody who asked us what we were doing.

My mother was "cool," in fact, she was beyond cool. She had curly black hair down to her waist, leather "bitch boots," and the finest quality leather biker jacket. She could walk into a bar she had never been in before, sit down with the a bunch of bikers, and say "What the fuck are you looking at? Buy me a beer!" She always brought home the most interesting characters: guitar players, warlocks, psychics, and poets-- all of them wearing black leather jackets. I'll talk about her life a bit more later, but it will suffice to say she was not ready to be a parent.

My sister Sherri, being nearly 3 years older, filled the gap my mother left by looking after me a lot. She was a gorgeous girl. Every school we went to immediately placed her in the number one popularity spot. Not only was she one of the best-looking girls, she was always taller, more developed, and stronger than her peers. I've read some literature about girls in poverty hitting puberty faster, and I believe it-- Sherri looked like a woman at 13. She bailed me out of more conflicts with bullies than I can count, and at certain points, I could terrorize bullies by merely mentioning her name. Sherri always knew what to do. We went hungry a lot, and she would borrow money from her richer school friends, or sneak food out of their houses. She was like any typical kid raising a kid, though: I didn't have a set bedtime, or chores. I didn't even have to brush my teeth. Sherri was my best friend, and we spent hours being just plain silly and talking about what we were going to do when we got out of this mess.

We moved a LOT. I remember going to more than 25 different elementary schools. I'm sure there were more than 25, but my memories are just a big, fuzzy mess of teachers and bits of curriculum. Of course I never finished a grade legitimately, and the schools that we attended just placed Sherri and I in the grades that we were supposed to be in, according to our ages. I don't remember my teachers from elementary at all... not a one. I can't even put a rough sketch of a face to any of them. They passed through my life like the river of social workers and cops that surrounded my family.

I'll bet you're wondering how my mother kept the courts and the system at bay, since our migration patterns were obviously damaging and one would think that my sister and I would have been placed in care after the 10th move. My mother was a master of deception, flying beneath the radar by changing welfare workers, and making up stories to every new one. She was terrified at the prospect of us kids being taken away, and she made damn sure we knew how to lie to the cops and the social workers as soon as we learned how to speak. Mostly, she hid us from the system by moving every few months, which I guess stumped the Canadian government agencies. She probably couldn't have done the same today, but I'm sure that there are a few kids that slipping through the cracks for different reasons.

So my early childhood was a blur of nomadic slum living, dotted with some really damaging neglectful behaviour on the part of my mother, and held together by my strong older sister. There is so much more, but right now I feel I have said enough...


No comments: