I was at a restaurant today.
Suddenly, as I stood there with my black clothes and purple hair, I was self-conscious.
And not because there was country music blaring from the speakers and I stood out like the sorest of thumbs.
As I watched a kindly octogenarian offer candy to a willful child
I remembered the questions.
Where are your grandparents?
I don’t have any.
Oh, I am sorry did they pass away?
Looking at my feet I would answer simply “No.”
And then walk away.
Because any kind of explanation would only lead to more questions.
How, in a child’s language, do you explain?
How do you say it’s complicated.
She doesn’t let us have a family.
Even though she barely sees me and I am mostly raised by a menagerie of older siblings
Each as unique as hand-made glass figurines.
I love them and I think most of the time they love me.
For that I am grateful.
For that I am lucky.
But I am the youngest and invisible to my parent’s eyes.
My mother wants me to have no one else.
But refuses me herself as well.
At worst I am abandoned.
At best unseen.
Unable and unwilling to compete with my siblings.
I am lost.
I watched my friends.
They would get angry because their parents had rules.
They had things like curfews and discipline.
My parents rarely knew where I was or what I was doing.
Much less who I was.
Perhaps I was a pitiable child but I do not pity myself now.
But when I remember.
Lucky are those who had guardians.
Fortunate are those who had something to rebel against.
Charmed are those who were weighed and measured and molded.
Even if the process was a difficult one.
Look back on those halcyon days and realize that someone cared enough to give their time to you.
Look back and know that you were more than a consequence of someone’s selfish actions.
Look to the family that you were born into or have chosen and know love.