15 Years

Where were you 15 years ago? Do you ever pause in your every day now life to contemplate what your every day life used to be? Did you move forward? Backward?

15 years ago, which seems so long ago and yet just yesterday, I lived in a house that would fit comfortably in the main level of my current home. I shared that space with three kids, three cats, one dog, and one bad choice. We had one bathroom, and there was no such thing as private time.

And the kitchen, the tiny little galley kitchen. You couldn’t open the fridge and the oven at the same time in that kitchen. And still today I bitch about not having enough space.

I hated that place. It, much like the poverty I was stuck in, was a a prison that I was determined to break out of. The break out wasn’t easy, it hurt in ways I can never describe, but it was a thing that had to be done. For my children, for my own sanity.

And now, with the harsh years of breaking out long behind me, I find myself home alone, walking around the house, touching things. I touch things, I hold things. I breathe in the silence. I stand in empty spaces and contemplate the beauty of them. Spaces that I only dreamed of when I was stuck in poverty and scraping for every last morsel.

But mostly, I panic. And the thought in my head, always there, pushing forward and demanding to be heard, is this: “Don’t fuck this up, Cristina. Do NOT fuck this up.”

I’ve been told that I am a representation of the American Dream. I fought my way out of poverty to a fairly comfortable life. I struggled, I fought, I threw down the shackles of poverty, climbed into a comfortable middle class situation and pushed even beyond that. But still, I panic. There are days when the dream is a nightmare, and I feel that panic well up inside of me, threatening to take over.

But then I stop, I take a deep breath and I just stop. I stop questioning, I stop doubting, I stop sabotaging myself. And I start planning.

What barrier can I break next?

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