Hold the Cracks
A personal essay addressing my upbringing as a "family employee" and the conflicts that arose through our financial troubles.
First place winner of the 2013 Virginia Woolf Essay Prize, judged by Jon Pineda.
My medicine has its own special place in our downstairs bathroom. It rests on a little metal shelf by the shower, standing among the bright orange bottles of multivitamins, B12, vitamin C, and calcium chews. My mother is obsessed with natural healing practices – she slathers on bitter goldenseal for infections, feeds us capsules of powdery white willow bark for headaches, and strange clay mixed with water for stomach aches. My little bottle of pink goo looks lost and confused amidst the hand-written labels and bottles of earth-colored liquids.
I feel guilty taking it, but almost proud at the same time. It feels so official, taking “real” medicine. It's like the feeling of eating “real” cereal, as opposed to the hot mush my mother always makes when we’re home. It’s like going to tae kwon do class and being a “real” student as opposed to one who learns everything at home. I never felt quite real, quite normal. I knew that I wasn't. As I swallow the thick, candy-flavored substance, I try to block out the voices seeping in from the kitchen. There is nothing more upsetting than those voices – the low, fearful, angry ones that mean they are either displeased with us (my siblings and I), or talking about money.