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  • When Mom and Dad split (not sure if the divorce was final), we moved to an apartment complex in Holt, Michigan. We lived there when I was in third and fourth grade and I have a lot of memories of that apartment, most of them sad because my Mom was so sad.

    My brother and I were latch-key kids. I don't say that just to turn a phrase. The keys to our apartment literally hung from shoe-strings we wore around our necks. Mom was in real-estate and would still be working when we came home from school most days. It didn't seem like a big deal at the time, but looking back, we were probably too young to be left alone.

    At some point, Mom got us a baby-sitter. Her name was Brenda. Her husband's name was Gail. Their baby's name was Angie. They lived in the same apartment complex and the only thing I remember about staying with them there was eating tacos one time (it might have been the first time I ever ate tacos).

    At some point, Brenda and Gail moved from the apartment complex to a small two-bedroom house in Lansing. I remember Mom saying that baby-sitters were hard to find, so Brenda would still baby-sit with us from time to time. We even stayed there a whole week once when Dad took Mom on a trip (I think she thought they were going to get back together).

    I hated staying at Brenda and Gail's and here's why (in no particular order):

    - I had to do the dishes while standing on a chair at the sink. This isn't the bad part because I did this at home, too. The bad part was that they had separate hot and cold faucets and one big basin. This meant that I had to rinse the dishes with hot water only which would burn my hands and make me feel like I was going to pass out from the steam.

    - I had to sleep on a sheet on the hardwood floor in Angie's room. No blanket. No sleeping bag. A sheet (can't remember if there was a pillow).

    - I wasn't allowed to stay in the house during the day. Even though there was nothing to play with, my brother and I were banished to the yard for hours at a time. I remember being so bored that I took up counting blades of grass (sometimes I would alternate this with the equally engrossing activity of seeing how many times I could walk around the tree).

    It wasn't until many years later that I told Mom about our experience staying at Brenda and Gail's. When she asked why I never told her, I said it was because I knew she had enough to worry about back then. The last thing she needed was an eight-year-old adding to her sadness.
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