i’ve done everything wrong

When I was growing up, we were pretty poor. I think I didn’t realize how poor we really were as we were considered the “rich” relatives, what with one set of cousins living in a treehouse they’d constructed in the woods and another living in their car.

My parents tended to exaggerate their lack of so-called book smarts. I don’t know. Maybe this was a defensive reaction. Better to act like you disdain wisdom than to admit you just don’t have any? You’re that way on purpose rather than despite attempts otherwise? My mom was (and is) forever saying, “well, I’m not very smart…”. My stepdad (born and raised in southern California) took to Oklahoma life as though it was all he’d ever known: wearing overalls, listening to Hank Williams, buying a beat up fishing boat, hunting, and adopting an “aww shucks” conversation style.

What I knew: that there was something other than this. I could pursue success and have a different path. That was a quantifiable, data-driven, proven model I could see around me.

What I did not know: that there might be value in less tangible things — relationships, families, love. I had seen no evidence of his growing up, after all. I had seen only the opposite. Most of what made my parents unhappy seemed to be each other, and us. My own failed attempt at marriage only validated this data.

But maybe I was wrong about everything. Maybe I was wrong. But what can I do now?

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