Shortly after I turned 13, Child Welfare took me into care. I was sent to a residential centre where girls with behavioural problems were ‘evaluated’. My time there comes back to me now only in flashes of smells, images and sounds.
Ma was legally blind due to a degenerative eye disease she’d had since birth. This meant she was entitled to welfare, and our lives revolved around the first day of every month when her payment was due.
Like my mother, I was always saying, ‘I’ll fix my life one day.’ It became clear when I saw her die without fulfilling her dreams that my time was now or maybe never.
If I had a magic wand, I would live in a building in New York, big enough so my friends, my family could all have apartments in it. We’d raise our kids in the same space and have backyard barbecues and get old and fat together.
In the years ahead of me, I learned that the world is actually filled with people ready to tell you how likely something is, and what it means to be realistic. But what I have also learned is that no one, no one truly knows what is possible until they go and do it.
When you go back to your environment and you deal with employees… do you inspire people or do you make them feel fear? Do you make them feel confident or incompetent? I think that distinction really marks the leader.
You are bigger than your circumstances.
Life has a way of doing that; one minute everything makes sense, the next, things change. People get sick. Families break apart, your friends could close the door on you.
Many nights, I longed for home. But it occurred to me as I struggled for a feeling of comfort and safety: I have no idea where home is.
… In our family, if you said the words ‘I feel,’ they better be followed with ‘hungry’ or ‘cold’. Because we didn’t get personal, that’s just how it was.
Life takes on the meaning that you give it.
I’d been living on the streets of New York, and I was sleeping at my friends’ houses, sometimes in the subway.