I have dreaded writing this. It’s much too close to the hardest thing I’ve had to put down for permanence so far in just under 30 years of my existence. But if I am to let it go, and I am to really, honestly find my happy place, I must.
Let’s start at the beginning. First I must admit that this all happened (exactly 18 days ago) just after being forced to quit behavioral medication cold turkey. (Thanks, Medicaid! This is what I get for earning that promotion!) So let me first paint a picture of the state of my reality at this point:
I am living in a train yard where each thought, idea, memory and to-do list item is a train. Tracks are everywhere, going nowhere but criss-crossing each other all the time. I am standing in the middle of this train yard with tracks all around me, trains flying by at obscenely dangerous speeds. When I am awake, these trains catch me, like a stray string caught on a button. I’m yanked along on a train I didn’t ask to board. I reach out for any other train to get me off this one, and I am whisked away on something else. I am not choosing to catch these trains, they are catching me. They never stop, they never slow down, and they don’t really give a damn whether I am crushed under them or not.
Except one train.
I saw a Public Auction sign on an old, ugly house at the corner of S. Dean and E. Fisher. That sign said this train was headed toward Grama.
I jumped. I leapt with both feet, and held on tight with my heart.
I wanted that house so badly. I wanted to make it a home. I just knew, if I could fix it and put those broken pieces back where they belonged, everything would go back to the way it was and I could once again live Happily Ever After. I wanted to raise my kids in the home I was raised in.
My father can grow things. We always had clothes on our backs, food in our mouths (with permission, of course) and a roof over our heads. We grew there, in that older, uglier house in Leslie, but he didn’t raise us.
So I had a mission, and I gathered an army. In a matter of four days, I had volunteers willing to help me purchase and repair it. I had put this house on the radar of my city and county commissioners. I had put out a public appeal: help me save this house.
It was not, in fact, up for Public Auction. It had gone up for auction in 2016, three weeks after she was gone. I don’t remember much of those first few months except the feeling of wet pillowcases against my cheeks and a canyon-like void in my soul. I obviously was not in any condition to go bidding on the graveyard of my childhood. (We’ll discuss this in a moment.)
Had I purchased it, I would not be the same person I am today. To be completely honest, I am not sure I can imagine the person I would be, but I have a sad feeling I would be very small in a very big world and I would continue to wilt, smaller and smaller into the time-warped safe space of my memory.
To allow someone else to live there, could be bearable. I have recently met the lovely couple that lives in my great-grandmother’s home. A home much more loved in the older generations of the family, and one that perhaps is waiting for me to get my shit together.
But this one – this little piece of my beloved city – this is the one my heart cried for. And this one, this tiny piece of the world I wanted so badly for myself, is going to be demolished. Very soon, in fact. This will be the last summer of my life that I can ever sit on the steps of that porch and look at the stars, and I will be a trespasser.
To see it gone, to know a little girl will never run across that kitchen floor again, to know the things we scribbled on the bedroom closet walls will be lost forever, to know the great old stove in the parlor will never warm a set of toes again, these are things I struggle in coming to terms with. There are so many wonderful things that were said and shared there that I will never get back. There were so many wrongs done in that house I can never undo.
I said I wanted to try everything to save it. This time, I tried to listen to my father. I tried to understand how he felt. I asked him, and his answer was very clear. Continuing to cling to this home was a personal betrayal that I, of all people, should be able to understand.
But it angered me. His answer was selfish. His response was cold and cruel. It reeked of old grudges that had nothing to do with me and never should have hurt me as badly as they did. My house of horrors continues to stand – and another family has made it a home. I never got my revenge. Why should he get his? And why should he – as he always did – get it at my expense?
He never argues with his feelings. He simply tells you what you ought to think, and if you don’t think so, you’re an asshole that will figure it out eventually.
This time, he said please.
Please, he said, let that house go.
So I got a second opinion. Surprisingly, the answer was the same, albeit much kinder and explained the way it should have been explained the first time.
I have been so obsessed with putting the pieces of this broken puzzle back together that I have ceased to realize there will always be missing pieces. It will never, ever be the picture of home I have in my heart. The reason it feels like they are desecrating a grave… is because that’s all it is, anymore.
I cannot raise my children in a graveyard. I cannot grow from this pain in a place I never knew it, in a place where I cannot understand anyone else’s pain.
But I said I wanted to try everything, and I did. I had never tried to be that honest with my father before, and he had never been as honest with me. I had lost hope in finding compassion for him and on this train, I did. I wish I could not understand his sense of betrayal, but unfortunately, I do.
I don’t know that I will ever be able to forgive the last person to turn off the light and shut the door. I can only look forward, and hope I find where I belong.
Goodbye, Home. I’ll find you somewhere. Love you forever.