I grew up in a suburb of Houston. We moved there in 1975, when I was 6 months old, and my mom still lives there. I learned to trust almost everyone and everything in my community. I remember my mother would work at the First Baptist Church library, which measured no more than 100 square feet. She would give me a few dollars and I would wander around “downtown”, which, like the library, was miniscule compared to anything with the same label that I would encounter as an adult. There was Dube’s Toy Store, where I would play in amazement with the giant wooden railroad set. There was also the pharmacy/gift shop/soda fountain, where I would use the money mom gave me to feast on some fantastic ice cream creation, typically with at least one scoop of bubble gum ice cream.
I also remember living my first 14 years of life in on the banks of bayous, and enjoying the torrential fury of the wind created by a passing train as we sat a few feet away with giant peaceful smiles, eyes closed as our hair and clothes were tousled violently. We loved climbing all over the box cars, and we even got to meet a caboose man named “Duck” once. He claimed to make more than $40,000, which we thought made him a very rich man.
My first fourteen years were full of ice cream socials and revivals at church, sweet teachers and girlfriends at school, neighborhood swim meets, and laser tag late at night in the neighborhood with good friends.
I no longer live there. I now love near those that I work with, whose primary experience of childhood involved being possessed by the state and passed from one home to another for a 1-18 month stay. They experienced this because they typically had families that knew nothing other than chaos and terror. I work with individuals who tell me stories of being placed with a family in which there was a 24 hour party going, for the roughly 29 days they stayed there, that did not involve streamers or cake and ice cream. They tell me of a parent that controlled them through starvation and practiced incessant drug use and manufacturing. They tell me of stories in which they were abused and then accused as liars. They tell me what it was like as they watched bodies floating under the overpass that they called home for 5 days as they survived with 10 other complete strangers in New Orleans.
Because of this I believe in mending a broken childhood, in offering the intangible security and safety that I was dealt as a child to those who can’t find their bearings when they are suddenly offered a safe and secure place. I believe in acknowledging that I was dealt a good hand, and that I should now slip them some of those cards. I believe in personal sacrifice for the healing of another.
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