Alone in my own world, I sometimes pretended to be Shirley Temple. Her dimpled smile and blonde curly-locks got her noticed. I imagined if I pouted like her and smiled like her that I’d be pretty like her. But in the bathroom mirror, a brown-eyed, freckled-face girl peered back. She had straight dark-hair and dingy clothes that hung loosely over scrawny legs. She looked plain, clumsy and insignificant. She was me.
I didn’t know we lived below the poverty line. I knew the hunger pangs that clawed at my belly. I remember eating cold pork and beans right from the can; it tasted really good with bread. I remember surviving for a timed on government surplus with tins of soft butter, brick cheese, powdered milk and creamy peanut butter. When we had it, smearing slabs of mayo over bread was a slice of heaven.
Food was scarce. Even after Daddy started sending money to Mama, I saw little food on the table. Liquor bottles and empty beer cans reeked and saturated the air. Constant bickering between Mama and my step-dad punctuated the tensions in our rodent-infested, cockroach matchbox. I’d see those creepy-crawlers on the walls, tables and dirty dishes on the counter. I’d hear them scratching behind the walls, or running across the linoleum floor. I could even smell them. Those pests were our relentless unwelcome guests.
(Excerpt from Running in Heels – A Memoir of Grit and Grace)
© M.A. Perez 2013, All Rights Reserved
Note: “What happened to your bangs?” I am asked this question countless of times. You will have to discover the answer to that question … but not until my book is published. 😉
15 responses to “She Was Me”
I always feel like I am right there in your world as you tell your story. I feel the fear, the hunger, the smell of liquor…all of it. That pic looks just like you. Adorable!
As always Sandy, you’ve made me smile 🙂
Mary, I cannot wait to read your book! Funny how we don’t see ourselves rightly–you were a beautiful child. (I always longed for dark hair and eyes.) Your words make me feel as though I can see this little girl, and feel what she feels. This writing is a gift. I always look forward to your posts–I wait until I have time to sit and ‘unwrap’ each one and take my time to savor them. 🙂
Rebeca, thank you so much! Hugs to you!
You were adorable by the way!
Even my bangs? LOL Psst, THAT story is also in the book 😉
My goal is to finish my book by the end of 2014. Yours, I am greatly anticipating!
….and especially your bangs!!!
More – more!
I feel very sad for that little girl……
Although she felt insecure and awkward, she was much too young to really know the definition of poverty then …
You left me hungry for more, Shirley…
Ruben Perez Ft. Lauderdale Fl