We grew up in a pretty big house. There were six of us and my Mom. Oldest to youngest was my brother Coung, brother Erik, sister Lisa, brother Willie, brother Michale and then me. Everyone had their rooms, but I shared a room with my Mom until middle school. When she was gone, I used to rummage through her random things and read through stacks of National Geographics. I was addicted to them.
After my Daddy died, my Mom became a hoarder. She would buy all kinds of random things from places like Goodwill and she loved yard sales. The house began to fill up with stuff and pretty soon we had constant visits from the children services. They wanted to take us away because the house was full of stuff and they said we needed to clean it up. I can’t remember a time when our house wasn’t full of roaches. We would try to bomb the house with Raid, but although it killed thousands of them, they seemed to come back stronger and with friends.
My Mom used to go out drinking all the time when she got a chance to. Sometimes, she would take me and Michale along. We would go to Buford Highway where most of the asian and hispanic community flocked to near Atlanta and we would go to various Vietnamese restaurants where my mom seemed to know everybody. She would get drunk with friends and sing karaoke and Michale and I would roam around inside or outside trying to find things to do. Sometimes, we would take turns locking each other in the trunk of my Mom’s car and practice breaking out. We really thought this might be useful someday, in case someone tried to kidnap us or something. We were pretty good at it.
Some of my Mom’s friends would give us money and we would walk to the nearby stores to buy candy and toys. The best place was this asian market with aisles full of random candies with packages we couldn’t read. We would buy a bunch and come back to the restaurant or sit outside and try them out. Once, Michale and I spotted a possum crawling on a chainlink fence. We devised a plan to capture it and make it our pet. So, one of us got a cardboard box and quickly covered the animal on the fence and the other kicked the fence on the other side so that the possum fell into the box and we closed it up! We put the box in my Mom’s car and on the way home asked her if we could keep it. She said sure, but when we got home, we let it out on the back porch and it climbed away and we never saw it again.
(To Be Continued…)
Michale and I in the backyard of our old house in Riverdale.