Tuesday, July 17, 2012

working is easy playing is hard

"Being pushed against a wall and a hard place only gets harder when you're hungry!" Yeah, that's what I told myself when I sat down. I feel nauseous! Maybe it was the half-a-can-a sardines I tried to eat before deciding, "I'm not that Fu&king hungry!" I tried though. I had a late lunch, so I'm only kinda jittery. It's not that I don't necessarily have the money for food! It's that I have to feed my kid. I know, it can't be that bad I live in Edmonton. I work for lots of companies, seriously I mean lots! All reputable. It's just that what I do means nothing to them it's good it means so much to me.
I've been pushed up against a rock and a hard place for years now. It doesn't bother me. My son's never going to go hungry, the economy on this side of the planet is far too good for that. We live in one of the richest areas in the world. It's not only rich in natural resources, but it's rich in money too! So much is here to offer, not only to the people that live here, but mostly what we have here is for the rest of the world to enjoy. Where I'm from is the top of the world, it's a hard spot, it a diamond in the rough. It's the only place I'll ever be from and I'll never feel welcome.
Now I know it must sound like I'm preaching to the choir! This place is spectacular to anyone looking in, and in fact to most looking out. But to a certain few, a small percentage, it's a glass cage, with a mouth of golden teeth, ready to snatch at and eat anything that dares reach out and share. I was born here almost thirty years ago, in a hospital on the west end, next to the biggest store in the world. It sounds like a joke but it's not. I was born into a family of three, a second son to two immigrant young parents.
Life was always good here, no one ever went hungry at our house. My parents were smart people, both of them very hard working. I remember growing up in the city center, I can remember the bazaar next to the hospital with my grand mother when she came to visit from Europe. She didn't know a word of English and neither did I! She bough me colorful handfuls of popcorn. It was hard and crunchy, we would never have dreamed of being hungry. But things have changed since then.
My parents grew up, and apart. The years spent together were unforgiving, work was hard, life isn't easy. I remember getting excited the first time an absents was being offered to me. At this point, my family had reached its pinnacle, our community had watched us nest and root. Me and my brother were well worn in languages. I was well into elementary and my brother was deep into high school when the stock had to die. I was twelve and rooted, it's something I remember vividly because it was my birthday, the 29th, the end of the month, a hot summers day when my mother decided we were better off not living with my father.
It wasn't a bad thing, but it changed the face of the foundation I built my society on. When my parents were together we never had cable, not once was I able to watch The Power Rangers without needing to visit a neighbor. But after the split there was more channels to watch. T.V found itself nourishing me! And the channels always lead back to the music videos and the electric guitar. It was the guitar that got me to do my first job. I had to go to work to get what I wanted. And all I wanted was this bright red guitar. I still have that guitar and I play it! And I think about how I ditched that job the moment they paid me. Working is easy, playing the guitar wasn't.
The Apartment my mother chose to move us was weather warn, and so were the people living there. So unlike the crisp cookie cutter streets I grew up in. You see when my parents were together, we were rich. My father built the house we moved out of. My mother destroyed it. Now it didn't actually happen exactly like that, but more or less. My brother was the last to have his revenge on the house, for the family, he was always the angriest. He took his emotions out on the frame, and for good reason, it couldn't afford to keep us. The four of us were a rough crowd. Looking back I was ready for that ghetto my mom moved us into.
At least I thought I was.
There was this time, she was working the night shift, when she met another kid in the lobby of the building. He was my age, I forget his name, but he was a lot like me. We played together, the two of us for a few hours. It was sweet. I bet I thought I had finally found someone. It was a good night until the next morning, when I realized that he had stolen all my money. I guess I never caught him red handed cause I would have never thought about that. He never came back either, in hind sight I wonder where that kid was from.
The guitar came later, almost a year after the move. It came at that time when my mom started applying for jobs in other parts of the world. It was a facade I thought, she kept saying "we don't have to stay here!" I never knew anything else though. Well, right before the separation I did get to travel through Europe.... Twice. But still I was from St. Albert, I was going to go to french immersion till the day I died. Hey I was young, and at that point I still hadn't realized how much ambition my mother really had. She was always a tough bitch looking back, she never really ever found anyone after my dad, I think that's one of the reasons I'm so selfish. Because after the second move, it was only me and her, we were each others only companions for a long time to come.
The first time she threatened to move away form Canada it was to New York, about then was the time I first started to dream. I was just a little boy, an athlete at that. There was this time at soccer practice, I was with my dad, he was watching me from the sidelines as I told all the other boys on the team I was leaving home to move to the Big Apple. They laughed at me. "Yeah right! You'll get shot!" they said. I told them I would get a gun. When my mom came back from the interview she looked elated but drained. "It was beautiful" she said, except in Polish. She got the job, but she didn't want it. "It's not for us!" she said, "I'd have a hard time if I brought you!" and that was that, she couldn't leave. I've been hell bent on becoming something fit for New York ever since, and at this point if there is one place you might need a gun, I'm calling it home. And no there's no apple, least not yet!


Anonymous said...

Very nice autobiographical piece!

Joseph Burben said...


Anonymous said...