Aluminum Foil and Clenched Teeth: Keep on Truckin’ Bo
My life has always been unstable, and many nights I have spent staring at the ceiling, wondering what it would have been like to be born into a stable family that sort of had their shit together. Would I be a different person completely? Would I have learned how to manage my finances in my late teenage years instead of face-planting straight into credit score chaos in my early twenties? And now at 31, I have finally learned how to function like non-white trash folk, I have myself to thank for being resourceful enough to turn it around. But the lack of stability has made me a very anxious person, and pessimistic if you will. When one good thing happens, I expect fifteen more bad things to curb stomp my teeth in for smiling at my good fortune. Recently I have entered another unstable realm, and my anxiety has been a relentless bully on my psyche.
I question whether or not I am even normal anymore. I wasn’t ever quite normal, but I think I have learned that life is about trusting yourself more than anything. I learned enough from my mother’s mistakes to fill a “Chicken Soup For the Mullet” book, and I constantly exercise those lessons in everyday life almost to an obsessive degree. I fight my white trash heritage every single day. But even now, being unstable, I have realized I have faith in myself to get through it somehow. Even in the cracked foundations of my childhood, where my own mother told me I would never graduate high school, and my own father charged gas money to take me to the very high school I DID graduate from, there lies someone very determined and unwilling to settle. We do what it takes, and we encompass a sense of pride for those accomplishments, and not being like the dick head who just got evicted above my apartment that never bothered getting a job. During a recession like this one, you have to be resourceful, and you have to keep your wits about you, or it’s easy to lose the fire inside. The fire could be one burning for your kids, or your spouse. For me, its writing and maybe someday, someone finding solace in my often inappropriate ramblings. But humor is a comfortable path to healing for me, and I wake up every morning daydreaming of a day when my art allows me to not feel so unstable anymore. I write because this is what I love…making people laugh. Maybe I can save just one white trash child from ending up pregnant at sixteen and bagging groceries at Dollar General. Maybe that kid found this blog and figured out you don’t have to be your environment, you don’t have to wake up in cat pee clothes and get picked on for the rest of your life. It’s all about believing in yourself and finding those inner resources.
I’m 31, and I’ve never gotten to go to college. Sometimes when I look back at my adolescence, I’m angry at my parents. I’m angry because I wish they had been normal and not two fucked up hillbillies who spent their time throwing dishes at one another and having affairs. But if they had been normal, I wouldn’t have this amazing collection of stories that have sewn me together like a patchwork quilt of dysfunction. I was homeless frequently throughout my late teenage years, and quickly learned how reality’s cogs will squash you in the machine known as life.
I brought all of these thoughts up to my best friend a while back. How I am scared of falling back down from where I came. How I constantly look behind me as I continue climbing up and how my current lack of stability terrifies me. He then told me a memory of me that I had forgotten about.
When I was twenty, I screwed up my checking account and I couldn’t get one opened back up anywhere. I screwed up my credit, I had no stable job, and everything I did resembled an illegal immigrant’s financial portfolio. I lived on money orders and cash, and I had charged up several of my credit cards. It was a classic trailer tragedy, and I didn’t know any better than that kind of stupidity.
One day, a doctor’s office told me they would write off what I owed them if I sent them $20.64 on my account balance. My friend said I went into the kitchen, folded up several dollar bills (from delivering pizzas), and taped 64 cents into aluminum foil. I then stuffed this exact amount taped in the foil into an envelope, and cursing all the way, walked to the mail box to mail this collection payment. Yes, I used aluminum foil to conceal and organize my finances since I had no way to send anything else.
So once he finished that story, I remembered it happening. He said “The next time you start feeling upset and down on yourself, I want you to pull out a piece of foil, and say…shit won’t ever be THAT bad again. Just look at the foil, and remember it.” And he’s right… the only place I use foil now is on baked potatoes, not to send collection payments to people in various bills. So when hard times happen, its best to reflect on these moments and always remember where you came from and who you are, even if you were a humiliated beat up mess like I was.
With all of that said, I saw this guy last weekend off of a busy intersection, and we gave him some money. I had to take a picture of this ole boy because he’s a lesson to us all. He has a sense of humor about the shit hand life has dealt him, and he’s okay with that. This is real commentary on the state of things, and we could all learn from Bo in his approach and his attitude. It does me no good to get angry because I don’t have a college degree or an inheritance, I just have to keep truckin’ and hope I don’t end up out here with Beaufort and Tucker.
He knows his strengths, and so should you! Honesty gets us everywhere, even when we’re scared. Keep laughing and keep moving forward, for the mullet holds the strength for us all.
Aight Nah Gal.