Daddy was always running. Always hiding from someone. At least as I was growing up. We packed up the Impala with all that it would hold, including mom's prized notebooks. I was told later that it was because daddy couldn’t pay for the car. Or the IRS. Always someone. We “camped out” under the San jacinto bridge for a while. For a four year old thats quite an adventure! We always had white bread with mayo packets and potato chips. Dad would fish too. I’m sure he caught something, but I never remember anything. I remember the click clack of the bridge as the cars passed by. That’s still one of my favorite sounds. I dug in the sand a lot, built sand castles. I remember finding a perfect tiny china teacup. Not a chip to be found. I cherished it as it was my most prized possession.
Late one night I was laying awake gazing at the stars on the sand by myself. I'm sure mom or at least dad was there with me close by, but I remember being alone, awake, and afraid. Suddenly, I remember this brilliant white light descending above me, almost surrounding me. A feeling of peace washed over me and soon I was fast asleep. I remember nothing else as the sun arose the next morning. I know how silly it may sound, but I always felt it was there to tell me that everything would be OK. I "felt" there would be trials, but that it would make me grow stronger. Finally our “camping permit” ran out about the time the police found us there.
Like I said we never stayed anywhere long. My mom got a job as a waitress on Washington avenue in Houston. We were still sleeping in the car for a few days, right there in the Shipley’s parking lot. My mom had an aunt that lived nearby. Soon we rented a room at a place called The Alamo motel on Washington avenue. I met my first abuelita there. :-) Actually she wasn’t old enough to be a mexican grandma, but she didn’t have kids of her own so she took to me. We would stand in her warm kitchen making tiny tortilla’s. I would eat them with a toothpick. She would tell me stories. I will never forget her kindness. The thing about being poor, not having it all… is you learn to appreciate every small kind act. It’s the people you remember. My maternal grandma stayed with us there for a while. I’m not sure where…. as even I never had a bed. My grandma was crazy sometimes... with a capital C. She left one night and left the gas stove on, blew out the flame. I don’t recall how we survived… She was crazy, but I loved her with a capital L… because she adored me. She made me feel loved and special... when she wasn’t trying to kill me? The story I've been told is that my dad dated my grandma before he started dating my mama. not sayin that she was jealous or anything. I'm just sayin... it's a possibility.
We left there...I was still four four at the time. We started staying in this abandoned building down the road. Upstairs. I guess it wasn’t really abandoned, because my dad was supposed to be remodeling it. He may have… but the upstairs remained the same. Plywood floors, sheetrock dust and an electric heater. I’m sure I played, but all I remember doing was looking out of the window. Washington avenue was a fascinating road then. I remember seeing a billboard for a TV. I missed TV. My mom was still a waitress so we would go and eat at the restaurant every day. I’ll bet the manager never charged us. Mom would bring home any leftovers at night. Warm and sweaty in a styrofoam box. It was so much fun to see what surprise was left over that day. We just left one night. It seemed we always left in the middle of the night.
How excited I was!! Momma had extra tips one week and we went to a drive in movie. Such a big deal then. I had to hide beneath a blanket though, so I could be free. I was just about to turn five. I remember my mom arguing with my dad telling him that I HAD to start school soon. We couldn’t keep moving around like this. He decided to send me to my sister’s house in Conroe. She had five kids of her own. She made me mind and eat my carrots. I cried and gagged. I really hated carrot's. I still do. As an adult now, I appreciate the structure that her home provided. Even though it couldn't have been easy taking me in. I was thrilled to start school. Pretty sure they didn’t have carrots there. haha. Sam Houston Elementary in Conroe. There were pretend kitchens and puzzles and kids! Of Course I was shy. But I loved learning. My mom had taught me to read a little bit. You must remember, adults around me were making all these decisions for what was best. I just followed along. Went where I was told. I remember someone picking me up from my sisters. I can’t remember who he was, but I was scared. I didn’t close the door properly and I sat as close to it as possible. The door flew open and I fell out as we drove. He grabbed my hand as the other scraped the ground. I was all bloodied and crying and he was kind. The next memory I have is being back in Houston. Mom made dad stoop at Lane Motel. She got out then and there and said that she would work there but wanted it to include free rent. She was done with the moving. I didn't see mom put her foot down often, but she did then.