- What was the most valuable piece of your childhood?
- Where did you meet your best friends?
On a friends request, I’m republishing this story I wrote a little over a year ago. Hope you enjoy!
Since it’s Throwback Thursday in social media world I thought I’d share a story from my childhood. Up until I was about 22 and went to graduate school, finally escaping Arizona, I lived kind of a double life. Not the kind of life where Mom and Dad divorce and you have two holidays, but a different kind of double life. As a child, I was raised by both my grandmother and my mother. My grandmother lived in a well sought after area near Scottsdale, Arizona and my mom lived in central Phoenix, in a not so well sought after area. You could say I “used” my Grandmother’s address to go to the schools near her house, but the fact is I spent at least half my time at her house, usually more. My grandmother wasn’t rich by any means, she was living off social security checks and savings, but she managed to stay in her house which was totally paid off. Like kids with divorced parents, I had two separate bedrooms and a large duffle bag to haul my stuff back and forth.
The weird thing was I couldn’t quite explain to the other kids what was going on. The kids at school didn’t really care anyways, I was heavily bullied for most of my time in elementary school. The other kids, the kids by moms house, whom I spent the most time with in the summers didn’t care much either, but they never bullied me. As I got older the bullying gradually died off until I got to High School where I did pretty well, making the cheer leading squad helped a little. In fact, at that point, I had lots of friends on both sides of the track.
I did pretty well hiding my secret lives for the most part. Sometimes though, glints of my other reality would shine through right when I thought I had everything under control. Like when I received my hammy down 1986 Volvo station wagon to drive at 16. My friends from school rode in it for a while, but promptly stopped once they got their own cars. Or when I wore my Tiffany Bracelet (a present from my Grandmother so I could fit in better at school) to something with my friends by Mom’s house. They half-heartedly teased me for being a “snobby Scottsdale” girl, but never in a way that hurt my feelings. Ironically my “summer friends” are still and will always be my best friends, the people that have known me the longest and love me for who I am.
(All of my “summer friends” at my wedding)
In college the charade continued as I got enough money to cover my tuition and boarding from scholarships and financial aid, such as the pell grant which you can only receive if you come from a family making under the poverty line. So my Grandfather, who had volunteered to cover my college expenses, instead paid for my membership to my sorority and extra’s. My friend Danielle and I at Recruitment, she was also a bridesmaid in my wedding.
While my childhood wasn’t easy, it was blessed in many ways. Over the years I’ve come to value how blessed I am to have led this sort of “double life.” I value the fact that I had to work for things that were handed to many of my school friends, liking paying for cheer camp and uniforms myself. I learned the value of a dollar and self worth. I value the fact that for the most part (there were times I pitched in), I could pay for those things instead of having to help out with electricity, phone bills, or rents like many of my “summer” friends. I value the fact that I find myself perfectly comfortable in almost any area of town. I think one of the most important things I learned was the skill of adaptation or maybe you could call it camelflage. I can mold myself into whatever the situation needs me to be without a blink of an eye. I absorb other peoples behaviors, mannerisms, and energy like a sponge. I can fit into any clique or circle with minimal effort, like I’ve always been there. It’s kind of weird, sometimes it even freaks me out. It’s a good skill to have but I have to be careful to maintain my unique self and draw boundaries.
It’s funny to me that I used to dream of having my own house one day with one cohesive life I didn’t have to hide. As an adult, I finally created that life, because no one cares where my mom lives anymore, or who my grandparents are. It’s finally no longer relevant. Now my double life past is what makes me part of who I am, living my one, somewhat normal, life today and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Linking up today for Thinking Out Loud Thursday!