Every reason i have for wanting my parents to stay where they live is entirely selfish.
Who would ever want to live in one spot for so long?
Turns out they didn’t throw out my stuff from the first 20 years of my life and now my house looks like a warehouse.
It’s mostly old notebooks and journals. A scribble here, a half-hearted sketch there. A poem with no ending… Such were the mediums before blogging.
A Mickey Mouse-shaped stethoscope and plastic bandages: my brother wanted me to be a doctor.
A giant red shiny head with blue eyes: my first rattle.
A fluffy Care Bears blanket. A miniature chair with my name stamped in leather. A giant green toy chest covered in Roosevelt School stickers, full of my favorite books.
A long white gown lined with beads and silk organza.
Everything that used to matter and proof that i was not the poster child of neglect, as i have often argued.
Proof that i played and grew and played and grew some more and i read and then i went off and did some of the things i had played and read about. I grew all the way up until i could grow no more.
Granted, i should have grown at least a little more…
Yet marks on the wall cannot measure inner growth!
I had a beautiful childhood and i became a beautiful woman.
Yes, there were lots of times when i tried to kill myself and ingested things i shouldn’t have.
Yes, it was a one bedroom apartment and not one of us had any privacy.
My dad would barge in at 2 AM every school night, taking calls for his taxi business, waking all of us up.
My mom would make me do my brother’s chores while he played with his friends and practiced music.
And then they’d argue. My parents would. And then my brother would argue too.
It was such a small apartment and there we were, all arguing for the entertainment of our beloved neighbors.
There was the married woman next door who had made an unsuccessful pass at my dad while my mom was in Mexico.
The nice pothead who always asked us for cash. (His wife was so cranky!)
My friend’s little sister who literally tried to stone me.
And my other friend’s cousin who asked me to play “hide and go sex” with him when i was 13.
(For the record, i said “No.”)
I met fear there the first time my parents left me home alone to go to a dinner party. There was a big rainstorm and the lights went out.
I met my sexuality there the first time i accidentally brushed against a door at the precise angle.
I met success when i finally learned how to ride my bike.
And i met irresponsibility when it got stolen a week later because i was too lazy to put the lock on it.
That building was the nest of my early existence. But the building doesn’t feel. And those feelings are safe inside me. I carry them everywhere i go.
If my childhood self could diagnose me now, she’d say i am weak. I am broken. She’d kick me out of embarrassment.
I left the nest but i still saw it as my safety net. And now the penguins are tearing down camp. Now it’s fish season and high tide. I mean, not literally. It’s actually winter in Antarctica. But you know what i mean.
The “nest” isn’t a place. It’s more like a lump in our chests. And for better or worse, it is impossible to leave behind.