Crystal

The little girl who would eventually become my daughter was only four years old when I met her, living on one of the meanest streets in San Francisco. Her name should have given me a clue. Crystal. Refracted light. She had a voice that scratched the sky, powder white legs, loved the color pink, and walked the streets as if she owned them, greeting every single drug dealer by name. Her older sister, Charmaine, age five, was more tentative, large doe eyes, given to sudden storms of tears. They lived on the street corner opposite the Kok Pit Bar, mom a prostitute and heroin addict. The year was 1986. I was living with my first husband in a pretty little house, primroses in the window box. Adamantly middle-class. I was volunteering in a youth program. On weekends my husband and I took some of the children in the program up to my family’s farm. I was about to wake up to what I was born to do.

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