I tell her that I want more from life
than a nice car, a nice job, a nicer car, a nicer job, a nice family, a nice house.
I assure her that there will always be money,
that I will always find a way to make ends meet, feed myself, clothe and shelter myself.
I declare all of the different ways of survival
trying to explain to her what these dreams, this wanderlust, means to me

and I am aware that this is all possible
because my mother did not grow up with the luxury
of dreaming about more than

filling an empty stomach
escaping a war
seeing her family alive–

I have her to thank, my father to thank,
for the sweat they have put into raising me,
into giving me a life that lacked the kind of wanting,
the kind of suffering that they lived through.

I have the cocky self-assuredness that
surviving is the easy thing,
and I lack the yearning for things because
I never really wanted for anything
other than words on a page,
a voice with which to speak,
visions for my eyes to see

So when I speak to her
of doing without the nice car, the nice job, the nicer car, the nicer job, the nice house, the nice family,
I must do it gently,
accepting that she is accepting of it,
knowing that she’s given me a life
she was never allowed to have.