A moment that changed me: my family moved into a shelter – and I yearned for my childhood home

My single mother struggled with the cost of bringing up three children, and we lost our house. Today, I still dream of it

When I was a child, we lived in a 1980s mock-Tudor house in a working-class town in Connecticut. Already in my family there were signs of financial peril: my parents had divorced years earlier, and my mother struggled as a single parent of three. She had borrowed money from friends, and when repayment wasn’t possibile, one couple came to our home with a removal van to collect anything of value. They took furniture, the TV, the lawnmower and even my collection of dolls. The corner store my mother managed had collapsed, and around the house we had jumbo rubbish bags filled with the shop’s contents. For meals, my siblings and I would pick through the bags for dented boxes of cereal and chocolate bars in crinkly wrappers, as if we were in an apocalyptic movie. Outside, the unmown grass grew taller than knee height.

But still, we had the house. Or so we thought.

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