When You’ve Finally Found Home

image - Flickr / wakingphotolife:
image – Flickr / wakingphotolife

I didn’t have a home growing up. I had a house.

It was three stories with a fenced backyard and a one-car garage and a steep front lawn perfect for sledding in the winter. It had a sunk-in living room and three upstairs bedrooms and a crawl space I spent the majority of my adolescence being relatively, and rightfully, afraid of.

It had holes in the wooden closet next to the front door. We covered them with Christmas cards and picture frames and ridiculously over-priced nicknacks purchased at a ridiculously over-priced store downtown. I remember taking down holiday portraits with smiling families and replacing them with congratulatory graduation cards, ensuring both celebrations’ guests would smile when they walked through the door.

It had open stairs from the second to third floor that my mother’s ankle fit perfectly through when my father threw her down them, her bones dislocating and breaking simultaneously. When the paramedics arrived to take her to the hospital she told them she slipped, the unfortunate consequence of wearing only one sock. The stairs didn’t say a word.

It had a couch my father choked me on when I disagreed with him about a call during a regular season football game. I thought it was pass interference and he knew it was solid defense and I learned that instant replays were not meant to facilitate a debate.

It had a dining table that my father threw my mother on when she cooked a meal he wasn’t particularly fond of. Chicken and rice is a quick dinner and a quick dinner implies unacceptable laziness and unacceptable laziness means indisputable infidelity and no self-respecting husband stands for that.

I didn’t have a home growing up. I had a house.

It was three stories of palpable fear and relentless hatred and violent control. It was painted in respectable Christian values and middle class contentment and materialistic wealth while the foundation was beaten again. And again.

And again.

I had a house I ran away from more than once and feared on a regular basis and was all-too-happy to leave the moment I graduated high school. I didn’t long for it freshman year of college or want to visit it during summer break or wax nostalgic for it when it was finally emptied after a long-awaited, long-overdue and long, drawn-out divorce.

And now I don’t have a house. I have a one bedroom apartment with a small living room and a smaller bedroom and one closet that’s uncomfortably overflowing.  It doesn’t have a fenced backyard or a one-car garage or a steep front lawn perfect for sledding in the winter.

It has a simple kitchen we often dance in. The very-real danger of a burnt meal burning appliances is no match for that one song on that one playlist on the nights we cook dinner together.

It has a living room floor we sometimes camp out in. If the bedroom is too cold we blow up a mattress and burry ourselves under blankets. We watch childhood cartoons and accept wrestling matches and survive tickling assaults when we aren’t locked in passionate embraces.

It has shared kisses every morning and “I love yous” every evening and laughter seeping through its aching floorboards. It has respect instead of fear and compassion instead of cruelty and a sense of safety I never thought I’d experience.

And it has him, with his unwavering smile and his undeniable warmth and his unrelenting devotion. It has him with his ridiculous jokes and his infectious laugh and his memorable moments of compassion that constantly remind me:

I’m finally home. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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