An excerpt from “On Privilege Guilt: My Fraught Path From Foster Care To Luxury High Rise” by Lisa Marie Basile:
I slept in the center of my room on a mattress on the floor, as did my younger brother. I would sleep with the window open in the summer, while friends slept in cool, three-story homes on the better side of town. Our dinner was funded by food stamps; we washed the plates immediately lest the roaches come. The memories are of my little brother’s bedroom. This room was the saddest of all. It didn’t have a window, and it was always dark, always filled with the sound of him playing by himself, a static television. I think now of the little pale boy, alone after school, sitting on his broken bed on the floor. How he didn’t know of the lack. How my mother took the living room couch as her bedroom. And the television with the aluminum foil.
Jane says: Like Lisa Marie Basile, I went into extreme debt (school, school and school) because I wanted to put distance between me and where I’m from. Separately, my parents have given me the “just-don’t-be-like-me” talks, and I can’t write a simple sentence about my childhood. When I remember, pain rushes to the surface, but when I sift, there is beauty too. (Or I choose to see beauty.) For a while, I fell asleep to the sound of the ocean and, later, trains. I know “I’m a poor girl at heart” because any time I think of the things that I have now—love, safety, health insurance, some writing time—it’s hard to want, but I’m always working towards more. God, do I work. Because of where I’m from, I can’t rest. There is so much to say, too many people like me out there with pain like mine, and time is precious; time is privilege. In fact, I’m so happy I keep thinking someone is going to steal all that is good from me because where I’m from not a lot of dreams come true. I keep splashing my face with cold water and, still, this is my life. Maybe one day I will share my story. Thank you, Lisa Marie Basile, for sharing yours.