The black sheep of our family was The Debt, or, better known in our house as “The Debt.”
From my earliest memories, Dad was in debt. I wasn’t told directly how The Debt came to be such an unwelcome but close member of the family. Instead, as the years rolled on, I picked up bits and pieces about his borrowing money from friends to build “The Business,” another complicated family member. This I did know: The Debt weighed heavily on our very existence. In my young mind, The Debt explained why we didn’t do repairs on the house and why we never stayed in hotels or took nice vacations. The ever-present Debt explained why we all wore hand-me-downs, held jobs from an early age, got haircuts at home, ate off of paper plates, and drank out of orange juice cans. Because of The Debt, we understood we were expected to pay for our own clothes, sports equipment, dance tickets, and student activity cards, and we knew to borrow pocket change from each other rather than from our parents. Living with The Debt meant forgoing most material things and, by the same token, it meant showing gratitude for receiving anything new, even basics like toothbrushes and underwear.
Above all else, what I loved about the McDonalds’ house next door was their pool. Sometimes, we would act politely and wait to be invited, and sometimes we’d drop big hints, but on particularly scorching-hot days we didn’t have much patience and would ask straight out if we could swim in their pool. Suits on and towels already in hand, we’d hoist ourselves over the cinderblock wall and scurry into the pool yard to swim to our hearts’ content.
Loud and fast: two words that describe my younger self.
I was a very active little girl, in constant motion from sunup to sundown. However, when I got a cold, sometimes it would turn into something worse, and my very personality would change. I may have forgotten this pattern, except for a couple of memories.
I'm the twelfth of 13 children. I was born into a poor family rich in blessings. We lived in South Pasadena, California on top of a hill in a big house we called Tanner Manor. These are my stories of growing up there.