Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I remember.

When I was fourteen years old, I got my first job. It was nothing fancy or magnificent, let me tell you! Like most teenagers being employed for the first time, I went to work at a restaurant. There I was - a young buck looking to score some cash as a proud new employee of Tastee Freez in Kenbridge, Virginia!

Photo Credit: Malcolm,

Yes, that's a photo of the actual restaurant. Keep in mind, I grew up in a county where there STILL is not a Wal-Mart, Burger King or a McDonald's. We didn't even have a major grocery store until after the year 2000. Tastee Freez was THE place to go for a quick bite to eat. Soft Serve Ice Cream? Check. Burgers and Fries? Check. Fried Chicken? Check. Livers and Gizzards? Check.

I look back fondly on my first job. It was certainly hard work. Friday nights were the toughest night of the week, especially during football season. I busted some serious ass working at Tastee Freez. Thankfully, I had some great friends to work with that made my time there enjoyable. Steve, Tommy, Stephanie, Jessica... you know who you are (and hopefully you're reading this). Being able to work with you made my first job memorable. I'm very thankful for the three years I spent there. I learned how to work under pressure, how to deal with not-so-friendly people and when to swallow my pride.

I experienced a great deal of heartbreak and abuse in my life during this same time, so my memories of working at Tastee Freez will always be bittersweet. The first girl I ever truly had feelings for tragically passed away; I found out one morning when I arrived to work. I won't go into any details to protect those involved, but those of you who grew up with me surely know the inside story.

Oddly enough, I also started paying my father rent with my first job. Yes, I'll repeat that -- I was fourteen and paying my father rent. I won't whine about having to pay for my keep at such a young age; it certainly plays a factor in my current success and independence. Yet, I can't help but question the motivations of my parents. What parent demands rent money from their underage child? I know of none other than my own. Between age fourteen until when I moved out at age twenty-two, I can put a pretty close estimate on the amount of money I paid my parents at $38,000. That's not to cover college expenses either -- I paid my way through college without assistance. I can understand charging an adult child rent who isn't attending college, but I was fourteen years old! Nor was I some vagrant or stranger, I was your own flesh and blood. Yet again, my lifelong feeling of being used as a tool to further my parents' (let's face it, my domineering father) own agenda was validated. I grew up a babysitter to my three younger siblings, only to be charged a fee to be your child and remain the general caretaker of your other children. There's a reason my two younger brothers and younger sister look to me for parental guidance -- it's what I've always done (and I will continue to do, you three keep me alive).

There's a reason I'm not upset about my dead mother. She didn't talk to me or express much love towards me. I've found out so many things post mortem which she told other family members and not me. I am your oldest child mom -- am I not worthy? Or did you just not give a damn?

There's a reason I don't speak to my father. He started off strong as a dad. I remember the walks we'd take in the woods and the road trips into town. I remember the records we'd play on the record player; the comic books you shared with me (I learned to read very young because of comics). I remember the care you gave me when I burned my hand on the kerosene heater. I remember my first wallet -- the brown one with a zipper and a horse on the front. I remember all these things... and you blew it... and it literally breaks my heart. I'm angry with you, but more so... I'm disappointed in you.

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