When most people ask me to tell them a little bit about myself, my first notion is to belt out “I was born by the river. In a little tent. And, oh, just like that river, I’ve been running ever since.” This is the opening verse to Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come”. Although I wasn’t actually born in a tent, it was a hospital by the river, the lyrics have always held strong and true.
I was the second born to two young parents who were both high school dropouts and grew up in a very small poor village that sits on the Ohio River. A place where farmers are the money, and your last name means everything about who you are as a person.
A few things to know about parents who have babies young and hate school is that even though you are still pushed to do better than they did because they want more for your life, is that education and help with it are lacking. But even though things like educational help and money were lacking, my sister and I were also taught that a house rich in love was a rich house indeed.
The other good thing about having parents who were young is that they’re still dreamers and instilled in us to always dream ourselves and that we can be anything we set our minds to. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an actress, a singer, and a lawyer.
When you grow up poor other kids around you are always quick to point it out. If only I was given a dollar every time some mean kid (usually with an “important” last name) called me “Trailer Trash” or told me, I wouldn’t amount to anything. (because my last name was not “important”) I never got angry with them, I just assumed their house wasn’t rich in love like mine. It made me sorry for them instead.
Movies were the first stories I was really exposed to. Something I would later learn that more than often they came from books. My favorite movie as a child was “The Wizard of Oz” Because I didn’t have many friends, I would often spend my time playing outside going up and down my street pretending I was the main character in a movie and reciting the lines over and over ensuring that I had not only remembered the lines, but I got the emotion of it just right. I even taught myself how to fake cry. A tactic I found very handy when my sister had messed with me, and I wanted to get her grounded as revenge. We would be adults when my mom found this out.