Thank you for bestowing this life upon me; this life so pregnant with pain, guilt, loathing, and grief; this life so bursting with beauty, wonder, magic, and love.
Thank you for bringing me into a world where I can rest my head on a pillow as I drift off to sleep every night, the heat turned up or down to my chosen comfort.
Thank you for blessing me with parents who love me, who hug me, who have watched me grow with pride, with adoration in their eyes, who tried to ground me when I stole booze and slept at my boyfriend’s house. Thank you for parents who cared if I had sex too early, rather than counting the days until I come of age before selling me to make end’s meet.
Thank you for running water so I can read in the bath, soaking my feet full of blisters from runs up, down, and around the safe streets surrounding my cozy abode.
Thank you for locking this brain into my head, this brain that knows no bounds, runs barefoot through the world seeking answers to every question, knocking on doors of possibility, thinking so hard, too hard, not hard enough.
Thank you for the 9-5 job I secured after 3.5 years of higher education. Thank you for giving me the voice that pulses through my pen, through my fingertips, through the keyboard, through my tongue, and out my mouth.
Thank you for making me a woman in America, a woman free from the cage of child prostitution, a woman capable of choice, of change, of growth, of necessary escape. Thank you for giving me the chance to take advantage of my valued place in the world, thank you for making me grateful enough to take notice of my coincidental luck.
Because I could have been a child of a brothel, a baby girl with one path and one path only. I could have been up at 4 am this morning fetching water for a neighbor, getting slapped by my mother, getting fucked by a drunken man who paid to feel powerful by being on top of me.
I could be begging for money to feed my family, accepting that the world is only meant for darkness, anguish, and torture. I could be surrendering any possibility of fulfilling any scrap of a dream to waiting my turn for the merry-go-round of ancestral prostitution.
So I thank you, universe, for the man I come home to every night who kisses my hands and plays with my hair, who knows how to order my take out food.
I thank you for my childhood, preserving my innocence past the age of 10, placing me in the valley of the tiny mountains surrounding my home, with roads stretching far in each direction, calling me to venture down the path of everything unknown.
Thank you for this life I want to keep living, thank you for not making me merely survive.
*I suggest everybody watch “Born Into Brothels,” a heartbreaking 2004 documentary that has brought me to my knees. Be thankful, be present, be positive, and remember how lucky you are.