I am an immigrant.
Born in London, England. On the edge of the city where chimneys poked the grey sky, and brick three-story walkups crowded each other like weeds in a lot.
We lived at Seven Wolsey Road. No hot water. No indoor loo. On Saturday mornings Mum boiled water on the coal stove and filled a cooper tub. Us three kids scampered in, soaped each other’s backs and laughed.
Dad worked on a post office train sorting mail. He’d be gone for days. My mum guessed he had a little something down in Devon to take his mind off the kids, the bills, the struggle.
Mum worked in a factory sewing buttons on coats.
My grandmother — Dear Nan – hid the bottle of cheap gin under her pillow.
I mucked about in the streets with my best mate Dirty George. We swiped candy at Mary’s Sweet Shop. We chucked stones at neighborhood kids.
Once a rock whizzed out of the dark and sliced my upper lip, leaving a thin white scar.
Dad went first. Then mum and three kids boarded the big ship Queen Elizabeth to sail to New York City.
I clutched the railing and stared open-mouthed. The Statue of Liberty. The Empire State Building. Thousands on the dock to welcome us.
We are all immigrants.