I grew up catching lightning bugs in mason jars barefoot at dusk. Those jars were the best nightlights. Like most children, I was always asking annoying questions. One day as a little girl, I asked my Daddy, “Who lives on the other side of that mountain?” My father told me it was the Smurfs and it was on. I would fantasize about getting to the top and seeing all my friends on the other side of the mountain. I didn’t have too many friends growing up. I guess you could call me white trash. The Express, Gap, and Guess were just a few of the big names that made you insta-popular in school. Mine were fake and came from the flea market. One time a classmate snuck up behind me, pulled out my tag and proclaimed, “Jerzees!!! I knew it was fake.” I got made fun of for that. My God, if only I could have been on the other side of the mountain.
One time my parents were arguing and I packed my beloved red “Going To Grandma’s” suitcase and tried to sneak out. My father caught me and asked me where I was going. I told him that I was going to live with the Smurfs. He told me not to be silly and sent me to my room. Defeated, I knew my dream had to be put on hold.
Lots of things happened in between that moment and now. Lots of things came undone. I could write a book about how my life unfolded, but that is for a different time. My point is that I did a lot of thinking about my past and where I am now and had a very important realization: truth comes in liquid form. It can take many shapes and sizes. My father’s empty Smurf gesture might have been meaningless. But it got me to thinkin’ that being poor might just be temporary and one day I would be on the other side of that mountain. To me, the truth is that life is what you make it. I faced my fears. And even when I was poor, I still had pride because I knew that I was destined for something greater than my bullies.
I will continue to choose hope until the day I die because I know there is something better on the other side of hardship. I’ve come to believe the dream itself is more important than actually having the fancy place and the money. And none of it matters if you didn’t get it by doing what is right.
And that is my truth.