Waking up in a strange environment can be discerning. I woke up on the couch, surrounded by strange smells and sounds. We rarely had bacon at home, But the distinct smell of bacon is unforgettable. The realization of where I was began to sink in. I wasn’t sure what to do. I had to pee, but I had no clue to where the bathroom was located, I was hungry, but I wasn’t dressed, I wanted to ask about my sister, brother, and mother, but I didn’t want to be called a dumb nigger again.
I started by putting on the clothes from the previous day. And tried to brush my hair back into a braid with my fingers being my only grooming tool. Once fully dressed and somewhat presentable, I emerged from the room hoping to see a bathroom before anyone saw me. No such luck.
“Nigga! You finally woke up. “
I had a conversation with my eyeballs, to keep them rolling back in my head. The rolling of the eyes would have resulted in swift discipline – a pop on the head or the behind.
“Nigga, get in here and get you something to eat”
“But I have to pee”. I barely got it out in a whisper.
“Ma’am, I have to pee”.
“Then go pee, shit.”
I stood there with my eyes wide open, fighting back tears. I didn’t want to cry and pee on myself at the same time. I walked down the hall tapping open each door until I discovered the bathroom. The bathroom was completely tiled in small pink tiles on the bottom half, with a black tile line in the middle and then the upper wall was a dingy vanilla color paint. The tub was pink, toilet was covered in pink fur and a pink mat in front of the toilet (side note, I never understood putting fur covers on the toilet).
I sat in the bathroom, well past completing what I went in there to do. I just didn’t want to leave. As much I wanted some bacon, I didn’t want to be called nigga again. My growling stomach won the battle and I went back to the kitchen.
“You eat poke?” Ms. Brown asked.
“Are you Mooslum? Do you wat swine?”
I wasn’t comprehending nothing she was saying, all I knew was I wanted some bacon. The blank look of confusion. I guess my ignorance was the only confirmation, Ms. Brown needed and fixed me a plate of grits, eggs, bacon and a biscuit. For the time it took me to eat, my fears and worries disappeared until I took the last bite.
After breakfast, I was sent outside where I met the other children living with Ms. Brown. There were three brothers and two girls. I was the oldest, but the least experienced in the situation. One of the brothers “schooled me” on how to get along to get along. Pretty much don’t get noticed. Keep my shit clean, respond to Ms. Brown the first time and most importantly do not ask for shit. If it isn’t offered to you, it isn’t meant for you.
While I was being schooled, Ms. Brown called me into the house. I was given $5 to go to the store across the street to pick up a pack of cigarettes, a book of matches, and a Coke. I did as instructed, but at the store, I remembered I had change in my pocket. After getting everything on Ms. Brown’s list, I had $1.07 in change. I took the change, combined it with what I had in my pocket and put it under a rock under the back porch and ran inside with Ms. Brown’s bag. I handed her the bag and went to dart back outside. Before I could get to the back door, Ms. Brown asked about her change. I reached in my pocket and in that moment, I realized I had a hole in my pocket.
“It must have fallen out of my pocket, I have a hole.” Surely that was a plausible reason.
“Bitch! You better take your black ass back outside and find my damn money! Ain’t nobody got no spare change for your ass to lose. You betta not bring you raggy ass back into this house until you find every last dime.
I went back outside, trying to figure out how I was going to figure out the situation I found myself in. None of the kids wanted any parts of the situation I found myself in. I spent hours walking a grid between the house and the store, looking for change, I knew wasn’t out there. Just as the street lights were flicking on, I was in a patch of grass, and found a folded up $10 bill! I was freaking rich! I darted across the street to my hiding spot, pulled out $1.10 and put the $10 in with the other change, ran inside and handed Ms. Brown her change.
Thus ended my first full day in foster care.