Turning the Corner

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Just one street away

are the biggest,

most expensive,

most extravagant

houses in the city.

 

Just one street away

every house has at least two cars,

every refrigerator is filled with food,

every bed has soft sheets,

every closet has clothes bought for and by

the person who wears them.

 

Just one street away,

couples are out to dinner,

children are at soccer practice or dance class,

teenagers are buying trendy trivialities

because it’s their past time.

 

Just one street away,

yards are filled with toys and climbers

that could put a city park to shame,

but you never see the children on them,

because they are at their soccer practices or dance classes.

 

Just one street away,

families are coming home from vacation,

families are going on vacation;

no one worries if they have enough gas

to get to the grocery store.

 

Just one street away,

someone has a doctor’s appointment,

someone has a dentist’s appointment,

and everyone has perfect teeth.

 

Just one street away,

a mother goes to a cafe for a little “me time”

because she has enough money in her pocket

for a cup of coffee.

 

 

On my street,

a father gets laid-off

while his wife is pregnant with their second child

because all of the factories

are stopping their second and third shifts.

The mother will get no ice-cream in the middle of the night,

no flowers in the hospital

or even the chance to buy an outfit or a toy for the new baby

–to which everyone comforts her by saying,

“It’s ok, the baby won’t notice or understand.”

 

On my street,

Dinner table discussions revolve around

how to make a box of cereal, some milk, three eggs, two potatoes

and a zucchini last four more days until the food stamps kick in again,

or what they should spend their last seven dollars on

since they need dish soap, toilet paper, gas for the car and shampoo

–don’t even think about light bulbs or batteries for the smoke detector until payday.

 

On my street,

the utility companies come around and turn off

everyone who’s even a little late,

because if they have to come out for one or two,

it’s just more efficient that way;

and then many go without electricity for days

until they can pay twice the bill (on payday)

to get it turned back on,

in the meantime trying to salvage food in a cooler,

and taking the kids to the library

because it’s either air-conditioned or heated

—depending on the season

–and it’s free.

 

On my street, many people have degrees,

but they have to dumb-down their resumes

because they are often over-qualified for available jobs,

and they have learned to lie about already having insurance,

because employers don’t want to pay for that,

but even if they do have insurance,

they can’t afford to use it.

 

On my street, mothers walk their children

in second-hand strollers,

wearing second hand clothes,

suffering from a broken tooth they can’t fix

because the check engine light has been on in the car

for three months,

and they don’t have the money to get it fixed,

and they watch the other mothers

sipping lattes in the cafes

remembering when that was them once,

and holding on to the hope

that maybe one day

they can have the money in their pocket again

for a cup of coffee.

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About Ryn Cricket

When I talk to people, I always hear, "I always wanted to do that," or "You're so lucky!" I NEVER want to be the person who says those things. I am not lucky, I make things work. I don't think "I want to do that." I do it. When I was in the seventh grade I wanted to do three things when I grew up, I wanted to be an English teacher, a writer and a mother. All of that traveling, adventure, and Peace Corps was just research for what was to come. After more than twenty years of being told I would never be able to have children, I had two beautiful baby girls, a year and a half apart. I spend some of my time teaching English in Shanghai, China, and the rest of my time, inspiring my two little girls, or being inspired by writing at the writers’ workshop I call “home.”

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