I always admired her when I was growing up. No, that’s not quite true. I envied her. I wanted to be her.
Marcia Withers lived across the street from me in St. Louis. She was an only child and had twin beds and a piano in her bedroom – one of the beds for her, one for the lucky friend who got to spend the night. Her father worked during the day and her mother sunbathed in a backyard full of flowers.
Across the street from her my mother and I lived in a three-story rooming house, my mother who had never been married. The floors were rickety and we shared the bathroom with the other second-floor tenants. Don’t ask me how we got our food. I hate to tell you this but we stole it from the different A&Ps. Otherwise, we lived on a small check from the government.
We moved away and years later, when I was twenty, I returned to St. Louis and looked up Marcia Withers. She had gotten married. She worked in an office. I thought she was bound for extraordinary things. I couldn’t understand why my adult self found this reality so disappointing.