I am desperately cleaning a blood stain that has somehow ended up in the at-home footbath the drag queen renting out the office in my parents’ massive home has been kind enough to lend me…thinking I’m not using it to rinse out the blood in my underwear, or that, somehow, my own oversaturated tampon will end up placed in there for I don’t know what reason. Because I am delirious. Because I am not myself. Or maybe doing something so inexplicable and illogical is precisely within my character. What I’m really saying is that I’m a specter in the childhood home I once called my own. A childhood home I never lived in long enough to even get my period (though, yes, I got it at the unjustly early age of nine). My parents were forced to leave the lap of luxury before I could take advantage of it in adolescence by picking and choosing who could come over to swim in the waterfall-laden pool. It would have been my ticket to popularity for sure. My chance to manipulate the student body out of my own calculated Machiavellian boredom. Alas, my parents were no good at acknowledging the limitations of their finances when they had signed on with some Shylock bank to pay a mortgage that ended up depleting their entire budget for anything else. They begged to refinance, but the bank was staunch in its refusal, seizing the property and putting it up on the “market” (a term so patently abstract that it’s sinister) faster than we could pack our all at once valueless things.
My brother and sister were more upset than I seemed to be. Me, so unaware at that time of how much posh conditions could make all the difference in one’s treatment. Of how moving to “the wrong side of the tracks” wasn’t as glamorous as Andie Walsh made it look when she had started out there to begin with. I guess the point is, rags to riches stories are what people want to hear about. Not riches to rags. There’s no empathy for that narrative.
As I grew into the awkward preteen that no amount of money could have staved off anyway, I continued to experience an abnormally heavy period every month, the kind that made me think if my parents still had money then maybe they could afford to get me custom-built tampons that would be durable yet egrodynamic enough to handle the amount of blood that seemed to relish spouting out of my vagina. But they didn’t. The best I could hope for in the height of “poverty hedonism” was a motherfucking Lunchable. I felt betrayed. As though they, like a man at the outset of a relationship, had gotten me accustomed to one way of being and then, out of nowhere, pulled the rug out from underneath me (literally) to reveal the way things truly were. Which was to say, obviously, shit.
Rather than withdraw from my studies, I tapped in as much as possible to my dweeb side. Figured it was my only ticket out of the hell my progenitors had created for me. One devoid of any opportunities other than the ones I might make for myself. My brother and sister, meanwhile, had surrendered to the fate of what it means to be poor, therefore mediocre. The former sunk into the depths of the drug world, first semi-thriving as a dealer, then semi-dying as a junkie. The latter opted for the “marriage to a dullard route,” followed by squeezing out three equally as doltish children, who remain so formless I often still can’t tell them apart.
But I, I got my scholarship. And at a university far away to intensify the importance of my achievement. My ticket out of the undistinguishedness everyone in my family suddenly appeared so “fine” with. As though pretending to ignore the riches we once had by going full-tilt “trash” was the best way to cope with being on this side of the spectrum. Embrace what you were by consuming it, or else it would consume you. Well, I couldn’t. And I abandoned them all the first chance I got, heading to a version of London that could never have braced itself for Boris Johnson. No, it was 1998, and not everyone had yet come to see Tony Blair as so callow before George W. Bush took (like just took it despite not winning) office in ’00 (a dynamic which Love Actually tried to make look more intense than it really was via the conduits of Hugh Grant and Billy Bob Thornton).
My time at the University of London felt shorter than it was, and a BA in English proved that I was still living in the early days of my “rich girl” haze to believe that it would afford me the ability to find any work. I should have taken the business courses there. That would have bought me time as a shat upon junior level executive in the Square Mile. But with my student visa expired and no prospect of a job, the wolf trap that was the U.S. beckoned me back into its waiting to clamp down teeth.
So now here I am. Back in the house that might have made my life so much different. I think I’m tapping into a different dimension, one where, if my parents had been more enterprising, open-minded and we didn’t live in a bumfuck suburb, maybe they could have rented out the rooms to a ragtag gang of LGBTQs and we could have saved enough money to make the mortgage payments. By we, of course, I mean them. As a child is totally useless in this and all other matters. Unless one has the gumption to whore them out for potential profits like Shirley Temple or something.
“Don’t you wanna join us for some daiquiris?” the drag queen calls out to me as I rush past the living room with a fresh armful of cleaning supplies she seems oblivious to. Of course I do, but I have a stain to get out. I didn’t think that blood could really stain a surface like this, but who am I to question the why? Why won’t the blemish of my hemoglobin be removed? Why did I have to be born into a decent circumstance only to have it ripped away from me like lining against a uterine wall?