It’s for the Trailer Park Girls
Here in a little bit I’ll be driving to the USF campus to drop of some work/school related paperwork. This marks the midpoint of the family nurse practitioner (FNP) graduate program. Four semesters are down, four semesters to go. I’m told the next four will be harder than the last. If Florida can avoid another Irma like hurricane season that’d be great! Meanwhile, my job with the state rocks on with projects, action plans, SMART objectives, strategic plans, grant writing, blood drawing, staff call outs, etc. The pay is subpar, the bennies are phenomenal, the work is rewarding.
People keep asking me what my personal goals are. What am I after? Am I seeking more money? Will I return to shift work and cash in every differential bonus? Do I want an easier gig? Am I a bleeding heart, dedicated to a specific mission? Do I covet my bosses position with a desire to make powerful decisions? Will I climb corporate or political ladders, strategically moving till I reach some point that finally says, “I made it”. No, no, no, & no…..I am not status driven. Oh, I am driven just not by conventions. Then why do I keep going back to school? I do it for the trailer park girls, the project section-8 girls. I do it for the one who still lives in me. I keep going to college because all the statistics say I won’t.
We were poor. We were electricity gets turned off, heat the bathwater on the woodstove, clothes frozen on a clothesline, frigid air seeping through floor cracks, it’s time to move again, blocks of government cheese, food stamps, popping the clutch to start the car, mustard sandwiches, free school lunch program, 2 or 3 new school outfits at King’s or Kmart poor. There was some violence and substance abuse. There was no money ballet or gymnastics classes. In middle school, I begged for Nikes like the cool kids. It didn’t even matter they had to last the whole year. 25 cent shoe paint from a yard sale kept them white. I lived in a trailer or an apartment all of my youth. In Concord, we lived in in reduced cost apartments (aka, section-8 project). And so, who cares? Poor is not a crime. I’ll tell you who cares. Well-off kids care, they notice. Society cares. It makes you notice, too.
My parents were so young, so tempestuous. It could hardly be helped. My parents will read this and feel sad. They needn’t. They were wonderful parents in so many ways. Poor is nothing to be ashamed of. I know that now. My mother couldn’t drive the first 5 years of my life. Do you realize what a gift that was? I had my mom all to myself, every day. Reading was our daily staple. My dad taught me how to fish, start a fire, bleed breaks, and I damn sure know the difference between a crescent wrench and an Allen wrench. My dad used to tell me all the time that I was a leader. He’d say, “never be a follower Amy, you are a leader”. Now that may have been his pep talk for all kids. I just believed him. I believed him so much that when mean kids picked on me I just figured they didn’t know it yet.
Not many people know this but I did not graduate from high school. We moved to Dade City when I was 15, mid-school year, after a failed few months stint in Starke, Fl. When I was 16 my parents were at a cross roads in their marriage and various nameless unhealthy habits. Old money, old family names, Dade City noticed this trailer park girl more than anywhere. At least it felt that way. I quit school not to escape the work but to escape the judgement, to escape not fitting in. I applied directly for my GED, which required special permission from the school board due to my age. The initial age waiver request was denied. The second was granted. I started PHCC in fall 1990 that was prior to my high school graduating class turned their tassels in summer 1991.
I have failed at countless ventures. I have failed in relationships. Failures are necessary. Failures are learning opportunities so long as you don’t give up. Actually, go ahead and give up temporarily. Pout and lick your wounds. Rant and rave a little at some real or perceived injustice. Cry, have too much wine with a friend. Then get up, get dressed, get going poco a poco (bit by bit). Trailer park girls are tough and smart. Project girls have more potential, more depth, more failures. We’ve seen and been subjected to things children should not. We know our disadvantages are obvious. We know what the statistics say. I keep going to college because I hope to empower girls like me. I want to tell these girls they can. They are leaders, not followers. They can go to college. They can work hard. They can make a difference in this world. Be the difference you want to see. Don’t say it, be it because you can!
I will never be done. There is no end to my journey. It’s not a race though, I’m reasonable with time. I’m the girl who says, “you want to bet, watch me”. The thief of joy is comparison, right? I promise I’m good. Berating the mind in small doses is healthy. I am good and kind and loving and fair and hardworking and I believe. I am all these things despite what anyone thinks or says of me and so are you! Let's hear it for the trailer park/section-8 girls everywhere!