My family couldn’t afford a house when I was growing up. My mother taught mathematics at a community college, and as we all know, community college professors aren’t exactly paid handsomely. My father… well, he is incredibly passionate about baseball, and spent more time playing in his recreational league than he did paying attention to work. So, my parents had to be creative when it came to where we lived, what we ate, how they kept us amused.
It was tough, but my sisters and I didn’t seem to care at the time. It didn’t feel like we were living on less than a shoestring; instead, life felt magical. When we turned 5 (did I mention we are triplets?), going into kindergarten, we got kicked out of our tiny one-room apartment and had to find somewhere to squat. One afternoon, after a picnic in Bryant Park, we happened upon a tiny storefront, boarded up and looking long abandoned… this was to become our new home.
From that point forward, my sisters and I spent every spare minute around the corner in the library. We explored all the rooms, even the ones children weren’t supposed to be in alone, simply because adults took pity on us when we pretended to be sad and let us tag along as long as they were there. Some read us Tennyson, some read us The Brothers Grimm, some even took us into the geneology room when we had a family history project to do in school.
To this day, I am thankful for that experience. Most of my friends in college come from families who “summer on the Cape” or took long, expensive trips to Disney World and other such places with no history except what was created for them. But I… I grew up among all the history you could possibly want to experience, and now I have my whole life ahead of me to see the places I’ve only read about.