I don’t know how such an alarming sound came to be so comforting. Maybe it’s because every time that teapot whistled, my heart started to dance. It’s beat grew more and more excited with every leap and turn. There was a grand orchestra inside of me, a crescendo that built up to a sudden serene silence. I knew that sound meant that at any moment he’d poke his head around the doorway to ask me if I could turn the stove off. Seeing his chestnut complexion, hearing his hoarse morning voice say my name, always had a way of easing my restless mind.
I sat at the kitchen counter eating my daily bowl of oatmeal. He always asked me if I ever got bored of having the same thing every morning. I can still say that I really don’t. Consistency is something I crave, probably because I never got much of that where I’m from. I attended a different school every year until the ninth grade. By the time I graduated and left “home,” (whatever “home” means), I had lived in 17 different houses, apartments, garages, and pretty much whatever else offered a roof over my mom and I’s heads.
I’d say that nobody knows the meaning of temporary like I do, but that would be false. Despite recurring disappointments, I still believe the best in people.
I still live life as if everything lasts forever. I still fall for people like they’ll never leave.
I guess you could say that for me, home was never a place. Home was my mother, my best-friend, my little brother. Home was always a person. That sounds like a beautiful thing until you realize that homes are supposed to be safe. People are the opposite of that. People grow, people change, people lie, and people leave.
I grew up in a toxic house full of abuse and neglect for the first 14 years of my life, but never have I resided in a place so toxic as him.
I watched him pour the water from the teapot into the mustard-colored mug a little too fast. Boiling hot drops of water splashed onto his hands and he let out a groan, instinctively dropping the mug. Steam rose from the countertops as the boiling hot puddle of water spilled over the edge.
It burned him.
I guess he got a taste of what it felt like to hold him in my arms, but still never really feel like he was mine.
They say that people’s eyes are a window to their soul. I should have known that wasn’t true when every time I looked into his caramel colored eyes, I saw myself. Literally, his eyes were always so glossed over, I could see myself in them.
Looking at him I saw someone who was sad, afraid, and hurt, but that didn’t phase me, because so was I. Looking at him, I felt understood for the first time in my life.
I am not alone in this world, somebody gets it.
But eyes aren’t windows to the soul,
they’re just mirrors.
I really thought he was my parallel. I felt so connected to him. We might as well have been one in the same, two independent souls, leaving behind our past, on a mission to prove ourselves to everyone who ever doubted us– at least, that’s what I thought we were doing.
If I’m being honest, I think it was a lot more about proving something to ourselves. What we really wanted was to live a life worthy of our own respect. We just wanted to believe in ourselves. We just wanted to love ourselves. We just wanted to find a safe, happy home for ourselves.
We fled from our broken homes not yet realizing that they had left us broken too.
We could run away from the toxicity all we wanted, but it would still follow us wherever we chose to go.
You can’t run away from things like that. Suffering, fear, betrayal; they follow you until you face them.
That’s where I realized he was not my parallel. It’s tragic really, how you can really think you know someone, until you realize you don’t. I thought I knew him, but I only saw what I wanted to see. I saw the parts of him that were most like myself. They were the easiest to recognize, I guess. We were so far gone from each other before we ever even met.
We handled things differently. I should have recognized that after he couldn’t go a day without popping a Xanax and downing a bottle of Crown Royal at three in the afternoon. He insisted he wasn’t addicted. He insisted it didn’t affect him. He insisted he was happy. He insisted he loved me. He insisted a lot of things. I told myself I believed him enough times that I think eventually, I really did.
I never knew him, but I thought I did. I thought I loved him, but he didn’t even exist. I thought he loved me, but he had no love in his heart to give.
At least my stepfather was honest when he hit me. He was acting out of genuine emotion. Don’t get me wrong, I am not justifying his actions, it was completely irrational and wrong, but at least he owned what he did.
The only thing worse than being blatantly cruel is pretending that you’re not.
Seriously, how can you look someone in the face and tell them you love them, when you don’t feel a damn thing? How can you tell someone you care, and then leave without an explanation?
My stepfather never said the words “I love you” because he didn’t. Why couldn’t you have had the same decency?
I made a home out of him. I found comfort in the curve of his smile and in the texture of his lips. I spent days and nights infatuated with the idea that I had found my other half, the end to all my suffering, my happy place, my safe haven; I had found my home.
But he was not safe. He was not home. He was everything I had run away from catching up to me. He was everything that I was afraid to face, but this time I didn’t run.