So I was just having a conversation (well, textversation) with a friend of mine and we ended up talking about bologna. I have a nostalgic relationship with bologna....and as a result I can't buy it now.
When I was little....first grade to be exact....I lived with my parents and baby brother in my grandmother's house....with gramma too! I thought it was the coolest ever. I mean, not everyone got to live with gramma. AND, she had an upside down refrigerator! Not like the fancy ones now where the freezer bottom has a pull-out drawer...just a freezer on the bottom...and you kind of had to get down on your hands and knees to see what was really in there....waaaay in the back. But I thought it was cooler than anything....I'd never seen anything like that.
In addition to being the place where my mother told me I had to eat my jell-o (despite me assuring her that I would throw up if I ate it...she didn't believe me....I showed her!), it was a place where I remember eating bologna. Not every day, but often enough for it to be a memory. Mom would take two pieces of bologna, smear some mayo in the middle, cut them into tiny squares (more or less, because bologna is, after all, round) and I'd go to town. It was one of my favorite lunches.
Who know it was what was for lunch when they're wasn't bread. And who knew it all happened at my gramma's house because my mom had cancer right about the time my dad quit teaching and went into sales and we couldn't afford our own place anymore. Who knew?
I remember going to church with Gramma and my aunt and cousin (Mom and Dad went earlier) and then out to Denny's for breakfast. My aunt always got grits...and I always thought that was weird...and my cousin always got fried chicken....and I also thought that was weird...because it was breakfast!
I remember getting in trouble for peeling the paper-thin bark off the birch tree in the front yard.
I remember walking to school....often being late because I waited for my friend Jamie (she was real, people....not like my imaginary friends, Jamie, Samie, Mamie, Damie, Ramie and Mrs. Woo who lived on my front porch in Oxford...when I was three...not when I was in college). Oh and Jamie could ride a two-wheeler! What could be cooler than that!?
I remember the moment I realized just why we lived with Gramma for a year when I was in first grade. It was several years later...I was in high school and I overheard my mother (in the living room of the house we owned. Come to find out it was the first house my parents had ever owned...we moved there when I was in 6th grade) talking with another mom about not having enough money back then. She knew I was in the room (I was, after all, sitting on the other end of the couch from her), but it was one of those moments where you hear what's really going on because I think she kind of forgot I was there. She was sharing some vulnerable thoughts and feelings with a woman going through a rough patch.
I'm so glad I heard that....and not until I was that age. It made me appreciate how hard my parents worked....and how far they'd come.
People make a lot of assumptions about me when they see my life and my parents' life now. The trips we've taken, they house they live in, the gifts they lavish on us and the girls. They assume I've been a spoiled brat my whole life....when really, that's only been recently! (just kidding).
Honestly, *my* life now is a lot like my parents' life was growing up. Somewhat. We own our house...for now. But things are tight and there are a lot of months we come up short.
But it gives me hope...that maybe things won't always be like this. And when we come out on the other side and the girls are bigger....they'll remember hot dogs (because remember, I can't yet bring myself to buy bologna) on tooth picks and not realize it's a week when we couldn't buy bread.
They'll remember the good things....and then they'll grow up and appreciate the struggle and feel the love.