Behind all the pain and sweat and fly-swallowing and the almost terroristic hatred I developed for that place; I, (despite all odds) fell in love. Fell for the people that I met there. With the Hispanic crew that worked harder than me and complained less. With the many people I met there that were always there for me and so willing to help. I befriended the crazy gringa who told me her life story and the boy headed for anger-management classes that ended up in need of medication by the time he quit.
I felt like crying pretty much every day of that long first year in the work-force. I felt like crying because I was a whiner. Still am, and couldn’t come to term that a few months before I was hurrying to go to school in the metro with heavy books in my backpack. Months before I was vacationing in an island. Months before I was closer to the double instead of triple digits weight wise. Months before I had a beautiful apartment on a hill overlooking the entire city and the mountains and a cute car I got for graduation and almost never drove. Months before I was spoiled rotten and happy and now there I was, elbow deep in French fry grease, arms burnt, ass fat, legs ruined, feet callused. Oh the disgrace! I tried, really tried to take pride in the fact that my mom and I were making on our own, without any help of my dad, whose money was a far away bittersweet memory.
And I did, I was proud! I was proud that were making rent, of making money to buy food for my pothead brother and his pothead friends to eat when they got the munchies. I was happy to make money to pay for my own stuff, happy for the roof over our head with its cheap furniture and its smell of stale cigars; because it was ours, ours and no one else’s. If I wanted to burn the damn thing down I could. Well not really but you get the sentiment. It came from my sweat, from my work and my skill with a spatula and cheeseburger wrapping. Things started getting better. We moved to a better place, away from the smell and my brother’s criminal friends. We got a cat. We made a home. Blessings came. I learned to see them as such and learned not to be so damn selfish. I stopped expecting to get things and learned to go get them on my own.
I learned the honest satisfaction of saving for something you really want and to walk in those fabulous yet expensive pumps with a sprint on my steps because I worked damn hard to get them. And they looked fucking awesome.