The other day a friend referred to me as "rich." This marks, perhaps, the first time in my life that adjective was ever used in reference to me. The moment those words leapt off his lips, I felt sick and uncomfortable. Me? A rich kid?! Me - the girl whose mother skipped meals to ensure my brother and I could eat? Me - the girl who was once referred to as "the help's daughter?" Me - the girl who lived off of $12.50 a week in my first year of university because that was all I could afford? This one-worded description has been about all I could think about this week...and all because of a conversation about scholarships, which led to a question of how I was paying for my current academic endeavour. The interesting thing here, is that I didn't actually disclose my method of payment, other than confirming that I am not here on a scholarship. And while, no, I am not undertaking this part of my life with the use of a loan, it is not the result of my being "rich" either.
For the last few days I have considered how to approach this situation, and this method is by far the worst of my options, but to be honest, I've just worked tirelessly to rid myself of one label, only to be presented with yet another. I have avoided making friends with amazing people here, because I don't want to be associated with being "the girl whose mom died," which I struggled with immensely last year with people I knew before this was a fact. Of course, avoiding this situation has some obvious complications, being as I have a permanent identifier etched on my foot, but not many people ask about it's meaning. For the record - the placement is symbolic of the fact that although she's not physically here anymore, my Mom continues to keep me grounded, and the puzzle piece represents the massive chunk of me that a) is her and b) is lost because of her. And so, it goes back to my new status as "a rich kid."
Money has always been the least of my priorities. If truth be told, I'd love to live off the land in some shack in the middle of the woods where money isn't a thing. I pretty much want to be Snow White (less the seven men), where deer and birds help me through my morning routine, and hey, I've got the pasty skin tone already, so there isn't much of a stretch to making it happen! But, since that obviously isn't realistic, I now can't stop thinking about this awful word and how I can rid myself of it. I'm not here because I come from money. I'm here because I am without the most influential person in my life. I sold my home, my childhood, and the remnants of the one material thing my Mom work hard for and took pride in. My being here is ONLY because she is not. So, having that word attached to moving forward and living in her memory dirties it somewhat...it makes it feel less valuable...less significant. Sure, I get that I grew up 'Canada-poor' and that in comparison to an unfortunately-growing population of the world I lived (and continue to live) in excess. I'm not discounting that. But, if I am rich at all, it's because I had a Mom who gave everything for my happiness. I was spoiled with time spent and unconditional love, not material goods...because that's 'all' she had.