The book “Maid” arrived at my doorstep yesterday afternoon. I read the Foreward and then couldn’t resist checking out the first sentence written by the author.
“My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter…”
I dreamt about that first sentence last night.
In the world of the “haves and the have nots”, I will surmise that no one notices the maid unless she does something wrong. Otherwise, I imagine she is invisible.
My Own Teenaged Years:
I recall that when I was still a teen with a baby, I cleaned a military man’s house for him on Saturdays.
Then I cleaned for a woman in a posh house, but it was always over the top filthy. Food long dried on plates stacked everywhere. I would have been greatly embarrassed had anyone seen my own humble little home looking like that.
But never worry, the “have nots” will always come in and clean filth for a pittance. I think I made $40 for that whole huge house when I cleaned it.
The English Teacher:
For a time I lived with an English teacher I had in high school. She seemed so decent and kind when she visited the institutionalized home the state provides for underaged children without parents.
I packed my bag and rode happily along in her car to her home.
When I walked into her house I was horrified, but I didn’t let it show. Because she had saved me from the confines of a place where many kids were housed where I desperately wanted to leave.
The many cats in the house ate from the pots simmering on the stove. The pots that were cooking our very next meal.
I ended up running away when I found out I was pregnant.
The Minister’s House:
Then there was the minister’s home where I lived in the last months of my pregnancy. A couple with two boys, these people lived in what I also regard as filth.
I remember the dried stench of tuna on plates that had sat there for days during the time I spent the weekend with a great-aunt.
The dishes from which they’d eaten for days were left there for me to clean.
The Friend’s Mother Who Liked To Go Clubbing:
I stayed for a while at one friend’s house whose father was diabetic. Her mother was always out at night, so I would cook his dinner.
I felt the resentment of his wife, who didn’t want anything to do with cooking, all the same. Felt the heat of her anger every time I turned my back to her at the stove while I stirred a pot of food.
She didn’t want me there. I knew that. Yet I provided for their family what she never wanted to do. Which was to see that her husband ate his meals on time. So it was a trade-off.
She was dependent on me to provide the meals and clean the house so she could go to the clubs at night. And I was dependent on her for a roof over my head for a month or so.
The Reality Of The Haves & The Have Nots:
Some people live hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck, hoping there is no medical emergency that lands them in a hospital they can ill afford.
And others are born into money. These people never know that fear, that need. They don’t understand that you are always sorting words in your mind so that you can ask something of them in the nicest way possible.
A world some take for granted. And others will never live to see.
I look forward to reading Stephanie Land’s book. A way of honoring what she lived through. And that she persevered with courage and determination and love for her child.
All because she happened to be one of the “have nots”.