Although the coming of summer has embraced my world with its glorious greenery of varying hues and shades overlooking those abundant spring flowers of vibrant purple iris and the oranges of marigolds – elegant tall lilies of many shades competing for first place, yet our daily news continues to cast more depression on many of us daily as we learn more about our border security snatching children away from their parents seeking asylum here from their ruthless countries south of Mexico. Naturally our high-minded politicians blame anyone but themselves and now thousands of children are believed lost in the system. This is a story that isn’t going anywhere for quite a while and our own Janelle and her fellow DACA and Dreamers remain forgotten with the rest.
So this blog will dwell on the skills Janelle has managed to achieve living in daily uncertainty while refusing to stop dreaming. Looking at this beautiful young lady, maintaining her size-one body required for those ready to model at a moment’s notice, one can’t help wondering: how does she maintain such a fashionable wardrobe, stay a size one? How does she manage to project the image of a self-confident professional in the fashion world?
“Sit down beside me, my dear, and tell me your story of how you became the beautiful size-one lady you are today. It couldn’t have been easy,” I said as she eagerly sat beside me on the couch.
“I was 14 years old when I arrived here and started high school. It was not a place I enjoyed attending. Kids always dressed in the latest fashions and brands that we couldn’t afford so sometimes I would wear my mother’s clothes. When my mother brought ‘hand me down’ clothing given to her by her friends, I’d really get excited. I’d been picked on by kids in my class for wearing the same clothes too often not realizing that kids noticed. My mom had a gift for putting me down! I mean always! One day I was so hurt by her constant vile names she called me that I grabbed a knife and stabbed myself in the stomach. An ambulance was called and I went to the hospital for a few days. Then they put me in the psychiatric ward for observation where I spent about two weeks and—you know — my mother never came to visit me or claim me. So….the hospital placed me in a homeless shelter. While there I was expected to find a job which was difficult since I had no working papers or a Social Security number. So I would play in a nearby playground with a girl I had met at the shelter. Two cops approached us and cited us for loitering (a word I didn’t know). In Court the case against me was dropped. The new girlfriend invited me to her home. While living there I contacted my maternal grandmother to ask for help. She sent me her life savings of $3,000 which I hid in a shoe!” I interrupted suggesting that must have been a burden as well as highly unexpected joy – ‘since you had no safe place to keep such money as that.’ “You are so right,” Janelle said. “And it was disappearing rapidly. But you remember me telling you about the Jewish woman who came into my life?” I nodded. “Someone told me about live-in-jobs and who to contact to get one. They told me about this Jewish lady who needed a caretaker to assist her elderly mother. At this time I was extremely depressed and contemplating suicide. After a few days of working with her, sharing my fears, she sympathized with me and offered to let me live with her. This was a major turning point in my life! I finally felt that I had a home and a true friend – Naomi – and she let me call her my Jewish mom.
“She was life- changing in so many ways. She introduced me to healthy eating, skincare, and took me shopping at several department stores. Thanks to her sending me to a modeling school for a year, I was able to get modeling jobs. The owner of a photographer studio introduced me to garage sales, because that’s where he purchased most of his props and antique furniture for his studio. Since then I’ve been hooked on garage sales. I rarely shop at department stores anymore. I do most of my shopping at outdoor garage sales in the spring, summer and fall, and I shop on online garage sales in the winter. I only spend a couple hundred dollars each year on clothes, shoes and jewelry. Whenever I put myself together,” she proudly said, standing up and twirling around while I toasted her with my cocktail glass held high,”I look and feel like a million bucks, and no one can tell that I’m wearing second hand clothes. I tend to get many compliments on my outfits,” and tossing her head dramatically from one side to the other she continued, “if only they knew that my entire outfit only cost me just a few bucks, but I just smile and say, ‘Thank you very much!’”
Stay tuned in for more news on the Enterprising Lady from Trinidad.