My Dear Friends and Readers,
I can barely keep the up-coming re-naming of this blog a secret. I so want to tell you today, but I am going to wait until Thursday September 1 which is my birthday and which will also be the birthday of the blog’s new name.
Today, however, I write about my “re-constructed” past and how in my attempt to redefine it- redefine myself. When I was growing up in Northwest Washington D.C. in the 1960’s my reality was the neighborhood that went from the top of one block down to the alley where my parents bought a second house. In that half of a block my parents and relatives owned three of the four houses on that half of block.
I played only with the children who lived in the houses directly next to ours and those that bordered our 3 properties. I rarely looked at television because where I was born, Guyana South America- there was no t.v. As a result, I didn’t grow up in front of a television as a toddler; it wasn’t used as a pacifier.
Because my world was so small my reality was equally small. I did not know whether as a child we were rich or poor. My grandmother and aunts bought my sisters and myself beautiful clothes. My mother who worked at time at the Hecht Company bought us beautiful clothes. We ate very well and we traveled. So, I thought I was rich and life pretty much went that way until I was about 12 and then things took a dark turn. There was a radical change in my family’s financial picture. At 12 I found myself living in abject poverty and squalor. There was no running water in the kitchen and the dishes were washed in a tub. The remaining food particles and dishwater was thrown outside the kitchen window.
I am not sure how my family went from parties at Embassies to living in a broken-down house running with huge rats- yes I said rats. In my denial until yesterday, I had blocked out the rats. Did I know there were rats? Yes. But I emotionally buried that fear of rats- so that I could survive. As a child I was mortally scared of rats as I am still today. Now as I recall, the rats were every where- sleeping in piles of unwashed laundry in the basement.;living under piles of wood that had spent months piled out side one side of the other house that we owned; feeding on the food thrown outside in dishwater. There were rats because we gave them lots of food to eat.
As an adult, I have tried to piece together the history of the events that lead to living in that house on Northwest 9th Street in Washington D.C. I remember a Triple Crown Horse Race where money was bet on a South American horse called Candenero and it came in second. I remember, our first house, with its rose bush fences catching on fire one cold night in January, a night when my sister and I were at a party for the daughter of an ambassador from a country whose name I have forgotten. I remember a police raid at my Aunt’s house next door to our middle house where a small pistol and pharmaceutical drugs were found. Those were some, if not all of the reasons that my family and I ended up in the broken down row house when I was 12 going on 13 years old.
I remember sitting on the back steps of that awful house when I was 13 and sobbing my heart out.
I have blocked out- completely forgotten my fourteenth year spent at that house, except for two horrible related events- which I will not go into during this blog. I only remember my California reprieve when I was 15. It was in California that I became legally emancipated from my mentally ill parents. In my mind, my life starts in California. Those early years with my grand parents from six months to almost five years old, created a little girl who thought she was a princess and who continued to believe that she was a princess until I turned 12 years old and the darkest episode of my life began.
The importance of owning my entire past provides me with the true distance of my journey to where I am today. I realize I have come a long way. What are you blocking out or hiding or forgetting, that if you remembered and owned it, would help you understand the distance which you have traveled? I ask that you think about it. If you have something to share, share it with us, after all we are are fellow journeyers on the road of life.
With Peace and Love and Joy,
Brianna S. Clark
The Addict Writes.