Hi, my name is Jorge. I am from Mexico. This story is about not having enough money and tough decisions. When I was a child I was fighting with my mom every morning because she wanted me to go to school, and I did not want to. It was not because I did not like the school, but because I did not have any money. Almost every morning I had to go without breakfast, and without money to buy something to eat at school.
At lunchtime, my classmates were buying food and making friends. I was most of the time thinking about what would be my food when classes ended. Seeing other people eating when you are very hungry is a terrible feeling. Sometimes classmates shared food with me and I was so happy. But it didn’t make them my friends.
I remember one clear moment that I will never forget. On weekends I would work for pesos for lunch at school, but the money was not enough. Every lunch always cost more than what I had in my pocket. If a lunch cost five pesos and I had only four, I had to borrow money from classmates, or buy something less expensive. I thought if I borrow, I would not be able to pay back, so I ended up buying something that was only one peso for lunch, a lollipop. That way I would have enough money for four days instead of one. One lollipop a day, for four days. Having something to eat gave me the confidence to go with the group and make friends.
When I finished my secondary school, I had to decide between surviving (work) or studying. I wanted to study, but I chose surviving. I left town to work in construction in Mexico City, far away from my family. I left with a few pesos and a one way ticket for the bus. I left alone and knowing that this one way ticket was real. That if something goes wrong, I would be in the streets for the rest of my life. I can tell you now my decision was good but life was tough every day.
"The Lollipop" was written by Jorge M., a former student at one of our Open Door Learning Centers, and published in the 2017 edition of Journeys: An Anthology of Adult Student Writing. Jorge lives with his wife in Minneapolis and recently earned his GED.