It is my 9th birthday and we have moved out of Pacoima to a seemingly better town. I still don’t trust this process so I keep my frown in place. Besides, my new teeth are taking too much time growing in and I look like a gargantuan when I smile.
My lack of excitement distresses mom and she knows no other way to convey her wounded emotion than to yell at me for being so ungrateful. She did put a lot of effort into this little family party after all. There is just no way to communicate to her that I am doing this for the whole family’s safety. If I avoid happiness, nothing bad will happen again.
The best gift she had given me up to this age, however, was sitting nicely in the corner of the room I share with my cousin. A brand new record player! All white and black and able to play 45’s and 33’s. Alongside it is the new 45” I had asked for, my favorite song “Boogie-Oogie-Oogie”, by A Taste of Honey.
My mom did good this time. She seemed to hear what I had said I wanted for my birthday. I had recently asked her for a pet Boa Constrictor and instead, she bought me a couple of hamsters. They would have made hearty meals for the snake but instead, I now had a cage to clean, and those rodents stunk. But they were cute…so there’s that.
I wanted badly to tell my mom how happy this made me. My new record player and record. I knew that going forward, when we took our monthly family trip to Tower Records I would be able to pick out a new 45” for myself just like my brothers. A true rite of passage this was. I recognized that. I just didn’t say anything.
I also knew that as everything else in our home, the record player was not just mine. I owned nothing, none of us did. We shared everything with everyone. The player would soon be broken by someone else who did not have the same respect I had for it. That’s just how it is when you have so many people with their kids moving in and out of your home. We couldn’t so much as eat a candy bar to ourselves. Everyone had to get a bite.
I don’t have regrets for that part of life. I learned how to share. Also how to avoid attachments to people and things. Perhaps too much. For I have had an ability to move on without looking back in such a way that I would give others abandonment issues. Loved ones, whom I would someday have to make amends. Thank God for a new day, a new life!
My life has taken a magnificent turn! I rarely cry and I am no longer afraid to smile. Unlike my younger years when I associated happiness with the precursor to frightening events. Events that might take my parents away again. At the age of 9, it felt a lot safer to keep my head low.
But at that moment, I was all alone in my room and I proceeded to flip that little piece of wax onto the player like I had seen my step-dad do so many times. Then I dropped the needle the record and listened to the sweet sound emanating from the little speakers attached.
Since I was all alone for the moment and no one would be able to see, I let out a small, closed-mouthed smile…
I hope this writing will bring a sweet smile to someone as well. It’s not enough for me to have joy, I want to share it with everyone I come in contact. Stay Blissful my Friends – E