© Copyright 2013 by Sara Jacobelli
All the Bad Things That Could Happen
Sunday, November 15, 1981
I am writing in my Notebook again so figured it is time to write you another letter. I hope everything is OK in Italy. I hope I can go there someday. It is on my Wish List. Did I tell you about my Wish List? Here is what is on there so far:
1) To find Old Mr. Kitty again and keep him forever
2) To move back into our old apartment on Spain Street
3) For Mama and Papa to both get Good Jobs
4) To visit Nonna in Italy
5) To go to a better school where the kids aren’t so mean
6) To get our old car Dinah-Soar back
7) To have my best, best friend Laney DeRosa move back to New Orleans and live next door to me again and go to the same school as me (the new, better, school listed in Wish Number 5)
Well, that’s enough wishing for now. I guess I didn’t tell you that we had to sell our car, Dinah- Soar. I will miss her. (Papa says all cars, motorcycles, trucks, and boats are women, because they are jealous and cost a lot of money and cause a lot of trouble). This will make it harder for Papa to get and keep a job. It doesn’t matter too much for Mama, she doesn’t know how to drive and always takes the bus.
We are still living in the Sands Motel. I don’t know how long Temporary is, but it sure seems like a long time to me. The Little Kids sleep with me and it’s hard to sleep because they are always kicking and moving. Papa is drinking a lot and always seems mad about something. Mama seems sad all the time and I feel bad for her.
I keep getting into trouble in school. Last week I got into two fights. The first fight I won, hands down! The second fight I was jumped by a gang in the girls’ bathroom and I tried my best but there were two many of them and I lost that fight. Definitely was not fair! Papa has taught me a lot of good moves from his boxing days. When he is in a good mood, we watch the Friday Night Fights on TV. Sometimes they let him bring me into the Bar to watch the fights. I sit up on a barstool and they give me a cherry Coke, with real cherries in it.
Mama asked me to keep a secret for her. She wants me to help her fill out the papers for us to get Food Stamps. We can’t let Papa know, because he would pitch a fit. Mama says we should qualify for them. But we have to keep it a secret. She also wants me to fill out the forms so me and the Little Kids can get Lunch Cards at school. I’m the one around here who always does the paperwork. When Mama and Papa apply for jobs they bring the applications home for me. Mama says it’s because I am such a good speller and have neat hand writing. (My writing is messy if I go too fast, though).
I told Mama since I am so good at filling out applications maybe I should get a job too! But she says she needs me to watch the Little Kids. She might get a job at a Gas Station near here. She could take the bus. The only problem is the job is another Night Shift and I worry about the place getting robbed. I sure don’t want Mama to get shot and killed. That would just leave Papa to take care of us, and he wouldn’t do too well without Mama. Like she always says, “It’s the woman who keeps a family together.”
For Thanksgiving this year, Mama says we will probably, “Go to the Salvation Army with all the Poor People.” I wish we had somewhere else to go. I guess that is Wish Number 8.
My biggest fear is that if something happens to Mama, Papa will go get drunk and get in fights and get busted and go to jail. Then they would put us all in Foster Care. The worst part is if they would separate us. There’s a boy in school, Johnny, who’s in Foster Care, and he is separated from his brothers and sisters. Even his twin sister is in a different home than he is! I think that is so wrong! Plus, the other kids make fun of him for being in Foster Care. They better watch out because his father is in Prison. If he ever gets out, he probably will come and beat up all those kids. Poor Johnny wants to live with his mom but she’s on Drugs. The kids make fun of that too. (And most of the kids at school have parents on Drugs, anyway). I hate Drugs and Drinking, they just mess up families.
Well, if any of that ever happens, maybe me and Gino and Antonietta can come and live with you in Italy. I see it on TV and it sure looks pretty. I just don’t know how we can come up with enough money for airplane tickets. Would it cost thousands of dollars?
Mama and Papa got into a big fight about his Drinking and Spending Money and Other Stuff. She called him a Bastard, and he smacked her, Hard. The Little Kids were crying and Mama told me to call the cops. There is a phone in our Motel Room but Papa has told me over and over from the time I was born, to Never call the cops. Never be a Snitch or a Rat! So I just grabbed the Little Kids and pulled them into the Bathroom and we stayed there with the door shut until they stopped fighting and he left.
“You know what that fight was all about?” Mama asked me the next day. We were riding the Bus on the way home from the Grocery Store. I looked out the window and didn’t say anything. “We sold the car to get money to rent a little apartment, and he blew it all on a Poker Game.” Mama had on huge sunglasses and a scarf to cover up her black eyes and bruises.
I looked at Mama. The Little Kids were asleep, one on either side of her. She had her arms around them. We had bags of groceries that we bought with our new Food Stamps. (It’s my job to get ice from the ice machine at the Motel, so we can put stuff like milk in the cooler).
“Mama, you look just like a movie star, like Sophia Loren, with those big sunglasses.”
She laughed. Just at that moment, with the softly sleeping kids and the bumpy bus ride and the sunlight shining through the glare of the dirty window, I realized how pretty she is.
Well, gotta go to bed. Buona notte! Ti amo, ti baci! XXX OOO
Photo Credit: “Sophia Loren Actress. Vintage Movies.” Pixabay Free Images. CC License NonCommercial ShareAlike.