My Life, Views & Feelings On My Upbringing This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   When I first moved to Massachusetts in 1988, I wasn't too happy. My mother and step-father had been married for four days. I left my Wisconsin home of 13 years, my family, my friends, everything. The worst thing I left behind was my dad, step-mom, and two younger step-sisters. I have always been fond of my dad. When my parents divorced, I wanted to live with him, but I couldn't.

My dad is a neat guy. He never acts his age - well, hardly ever. He's very young at heart. He is always telling jokes. He doesn't listen to old music that is still made on 8-tracks. He likes Van Halen and REO Speedwagon, which aren't exactly my tastes but it's better than some kinds. He grew up on a farm. He hunts with a bow and arrow. He never wastes the meat but he hasn't killed anything in about six years. He solders ice cream machines for Taylor Freezer.

Many people on the East Coast are white collar executive yuppie-types who earn six figures a year. My dad is blue-collar. At first I was embarrassed at the simplicity of my father's occupation in comparison to those out here. Then I became very proud of my dad. He works with his hands and sweats at work.

My stepfather never breaks a sweat sitting in his three-piece in his air-conditioned office telling people what to do.

See, in order to understand what blue-collar is to me you have to understand the upbringing I had. You may think of Wisconsin as corn fields and cows, but that isn't all that's there. I was born in a city with a population of 37,000. There were ten elementary schools, three junior high schools, and one very large high school. Life was very simple.

As I look back now, I remember how Dad would eat his scrambled eggs and leave his chair sideways before going to work early in the morning. My sister and I would walk three blocks to school. When we came home in the afternoon, Mom would be there doing, whatever. Dad would return home from work and feed his pigeons, train his labradors or build something in the garage. We would all sit down and eat dinner, watch some television and go to bed. There were no conflicts, no outside commitments, no rushing, and, as far as I remember, there were no emotions. Nothing was a big deal.

Divorce fixed that euphoric concept. Dad had to move out and live with his mother. Mom got a job waitressing. We went on welfare. Things didn't look too happy to any of us.

Things started to look up when my dad met a nice lady. She was fifteen years his junior. She had two young daughters, aged three and three months. They got married that Halloween.

My mom had been seeing the same guy for years, since my dad moved out. My siblings didn't get along with him and I didn't either. There were many power conflicts, as will happen when a relaxed blue-collar family gets overrun by an uptight white-collar person. The monotony of dealing with two opposite parental figures was terrible.

Then, all of a sudden, Mom and her boyfriend decided to get married and move. Within two months we were living in Westford. The change of location was hard enough without having to adjust to a new parental figure with three of his own kids.

It is still very hard to handle things far from my roots because without roots, a tree will die, whether you live on the East Coast or in the Mid-West. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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