While on this current trip I had planned to show my husband three towns in Kentucky that I remember living in as a kid. I have distinct vivid memories of quite a few “firsts” from these places and I wanted to share them with him. I wanted to show him the bridge and creek where I had my first kiss at age 13 and the school where I had my first taste of corporal punishment for fighting someone who smeared my Prater family name. I wanted to show him the house I lived in during my first tornado and the one I lived in when my brother and I built our first bike from scrap pieces. But unfortunately it didn’t happen.
I could feel the excitement build as I neared the exit to enter My Sterling. Almost as soon as I turned off the exit ramp my excitement began to change. Suddenly I was having flashes of other memories I had chosen to forget. I passed the shopping center where my mother was hired as a clown for a business grand opening. I rembered how I hated dressing as a clown because I felt embarrassed. A little further down I came to what used to be the middle school, now apartments. This was where I learned to sing ten little Indians in Spanish. But then suddenly I remembered how everyone used to make fun of me because of my clothes, my accent (I moved there from Detroit) and called me “Bradley smells badly”.
As I drove through town I passed a parking lot where I remembered my parents sitting outside a pawn shop discussing making a trip to Lexington to sell plasma to make some money. Then I traveled along the highway where I remembered walking with my dad collecting bottles, cans and black walnuts to sell.
Sadly I didn’t make it two miles outside of town before I turned the car around heading back to the interstate.
I know that nearly everyone at some point in their lives has been the victim of bullying and the majority of the population grew up in poverty but it didn’t hit me until that trip down memory lane just how poor I really was as a kid.
With all of the struggles we went through, known or not, I have to say that I am glad that my parents stuck it out through the hard times and did the best the could for my brother and I.