It is 2008.
We live on Court Street.
At the end of the road was the bell tower that rings
on the hour.
We live top right,
a building where all my neighbors smelled of cigarettes,
where we pay four quarters
just to wash dirty laundry.

A poster I drew that said,
“Obama is president!”
with six exclamation points, a couple of backwards “s”
and a rainbow white house
was taped to our front door.
My old man tabby cat, Mark,
was the only friend keeping me company
through the loneliness of elementary.

We finally got a couch today,
It wasn’t new,
and it was an ugly crosshatched green and tan
and smelled sour like my grandpa’s dog.
But at least my back won’t ache anymore
like it did when I was hunched over
watching my mom play solitaire
on the beige carpet.

It is 2012.
We’re moving out.
We finally have a house
although it’s not our own, at least we have one.
We pack up everything,
including the rainbow white house drawing.
Mark’s ashes,
once high on a shelf,
now ferried in my palms,
as I wish he could be here
to explore this new era of life with me.

A new house, a new school, a new me.
And a new family member.
He taught me how to decorate fishing hooks
and play new board games.
And when my mom looked at him
her eyes sparkled with a happiness
that I haven’t seen in a long time.
Maybe, just maybe, I’ll let this guy hang around.

It is 2020.
We finally have a house of our own,
and my mom has been happily married for two years.
Before now, my mother—
as beautiful and radiant as she has always been—
wasn’t happy; although always smiling for me
her eyes glistened with sadness
that my innocence could never see.
She is my mother, the best mother I have ever had
and I will always love her,
unlike the people who have tried to convince me not to.
No one will ever take that title away from her.
She earned it, through blood, sweat, and tears,

all of her sadness, pain, heartache,
it was all for me.
She always made me feel like a princess
even though I was just wearing
an oversized Sex Pistols t-shirt
and stumbling around in red Goodwill high heels
as my mom and I danced to Van Morrison
in the kitchen of the apartment
on Court Street in 2008.