Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Poetry Of Poverty

I never will desert Mr. Micawber. Mr. Micawber may have concealed his difficulties from me in the first instance, but his sanguine temper may have led him to expect that he would overcome them. The pearl necklace and bracelets which I inherited from mama, have been disposed of for less than half their value; and the set of coral, which was the wedding gift of my papa, has been actually thrown away for nothing. But I never will desert Mr. Micawber. No!' cried Mrs. Micawber, more affected than before, 'I never will do it! It's of no use asking me!'

--Charles Dickens
David Copperfield

Serge has left me. For New York, that promiscuous whore. For three weeks. Duty calls and such. And so Max and I are on our own. My betrothed and I have made major headway in our relationship. Despite my tough-girl nature, last night I cried like a baby about his impending departure. After a fairly fucking serious rough patch my baby and I are back on track.

Without boring you too much with details, it's been a long, hard year. But. As I look back, a little clarity firmly under my belt, I am right proud of us Goddammit! I realize, that instead of fighting over bullshit like money and work and why he needs that fucking fan roaring right next to our heads all damn night and does he really need to keep magazines in the bathroom, I mean, I see magazines next to a toilet and all I can think of is the homeowner taking a gnarly dump - well, I realize that we are a team. We are Bielanko superheroes, fighting off the bad guys.. you know, the people who want to get paid for giving us electricity and cable and stuff. Fuckers.

In looking back on the nearly three year span of our marriage I realize that there is a certain poetry to being poor. There is the you-and-me-against-the-world feeling you get if you handle those stressful situations properly. If both of you are working hard to follow your dreams, there is no need to fight. I can understand if one was a lazy asshole, then there's need for a serious bitching out.. But when both of you are chasing dreams and trying to work.. you're a team.

Growing up a slave to food stamps, I always resented the priveliged kids. The ones whose parents bought them everything. Even though I liked them, was friends with them, I hated them. Because I knew they could never, ever understand. The poor kids, the former poor kids, we get it. I think I was the poorest out of all my friends though, friends with no one who could really understand what it's like to eat Grandma's bloated, canned peaches and powdered milk for breakfast for days at a time... Dreading the morning Mom asks you to run to the grocery store for a gallon of milk then proffers a purple five dollar food stamp.

I never dated anyone that grew up like me, taking what I could get where I could get it, scrabbling for cash, feeling as if everyone else had a head start. Until Serge. He gets it. He understands. He knows first-hand the way your sphincter tightens and you hold your breath when someone runs your credit card, even if you know there's enough room to cover whatever you're buying. Until the day I die, I will never spend with abandon no matter my income. Both of us feel ill if we spend more than a hundred bucks on anything. While purchasing our lawnmower we paced Home Depot for hours, vacillating between the shitty $99 dollar model without a grass-catching bag and the $135 dollar model. We opted for the latter and felt sick about it for a week. But we felt queasy together and we both understood, without needing to discuss, why spending so much on a stupid lawnmower made us sick.

And so, like Virginia Woolf contemplating and ultimately committing suicide, there is poetry in poverty. There is beauty to be found in the ugly. While money may bond folks on a very superficial level (shall we vacation on the French Riviera, shall we lunch at the Country Club) their ain't no bonding like poverty. The togetherness.. The needing next-to-nothing but each other's company to get by. Sure two people can have fun when they have cash to burn, when they can travel and fill up their lives with things... but it's a whole 'nother story when you got nothin' but each other and your dog. You, with the big money, unless you used to be poor you can't understand. It's superglue baby. And that's what we got. Each other, our dog and our Great Expectations.

And that's all I need.