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From Somewhere to Nowhere
When I’m alone and it’s quiet, my mind goes to strange places. My thoughts revolve around two questions. “How did I get here and where am I going?” To answer these questions, most people would start at the beginning. My beginning is shapeless and foggy. We’ll have to at somewhere in the middle. There was a cycle that was beginning to form. This cycle became the norm of my life.
I was a carefree third grader who only saw what was right in front of her. The house was small and had a strange boxy feel to it. The carpets were tan colored and felt fuzzy under my bear feet, like uncut grass. Dancing shadows made the boring walls look like someone had pressed their dirty fingers all over them. Instead of focusing on the gloominess, I turned my attention to my furry friend, Hobs. She was the second cat we’d ever had and she’d been with us for a long time. Her coloring reminded me of cookies and cream ice cream. Playing with her always made me happy. Fortunately I quickly discovered the neighborhood had more to offer then I thought it would.
The gated pool and spacious park were my favorite place to go. My brother, Tyler and me would walk down the clean sidewalk, through the neighborhood, passed the gated pool and to the park. The murky water in the pool gave me the creeps every time I looked at it. I imagined some weird water creature coming to the surface and watching us with its slimy eyes. Yes I did have a bit of an over active imagination and I was determined to never loose it. The park made me feel calm and worry free. The afternoon light cast eerie shadows on the warm sand. There was a long wash that ran along side the park. It was the perfect place to hide when playing hide and seek. Sometimes the little humming birds that were attracted to the colorful Bird of Paradise’d distract me.
Tolson Elementary was the school I went to during this little slice of my life. My teacher had a strange way about her. She was a kind but meek lady, with dark framed glasses that filled up her entire face. She wore long flowing dresses of every pattern imaginable. They billowed around her thin body as she power walked down the halls. A smile was always on her face. But through her joy it was easy to see that she was nervous. What did she have to be nervous about? I was the new kid. The playground was gigantic. Kids ran wild around the grass-covered mounds of dirt. It amazed me how green the grass was. Didn’t we live in a desert? Instead of playing on the monkey bars and the slides, I spent most of my time hunting for ladybugs. I’d crouch down and wait patiently for them to crawl up the blades or on my hands. Then I’d lightly pick them up and hold them in the palm of my hand. Sometimes I’d take then into class with me and I’d let them loose.
In the middle of my one-year at Tolson my parents decided to move on to a new house. Thankfully we didn’t have to go very far, it was just down the street, in a different neighborhood. I was excited because this was an actual house, with its own driveway, garage, and nice front yard. For most people that wouldn’t be a big deal but for me it was a luxury. The moving process was easy. Since it was the middle of the school year, we had to be quick. Amazingly we got the job done in one weekend. We drove back and forth lugging box after box into our new kitchen and living room. The backyard was perfect for having family parties and that’s exactly what we did. Looking out the sliding glass door, I could see my family talking and laughing and some of them were drinking from red plastic cups. It was obvious to me what was in those cups. The smiles on their faces gave it all away. The rest of that year flew by like a puff of smoke. The wall that had shielded me from all the things that made my life not so good came crumbling to the ground and was replaced by a different kind of wall. This one would end up hurting more then helping.
Suddenly there were empty boxes in front of me with a room full of things to fill them with. I had to say adios to Tolson and prepare myself for another new school and house. It was back to a town house in a busier part of town. It was small and the walls were so white, it made me dizzy to look at them. I was able to adjust to my new surroundings easily as I always did. I felt hopeful that this would all work out and for the first and only time in my life I was excited for my first day of school but it turned out to be difficult.
For some reason my nerves really got to me. I stood in the doorway of the classroom hoping that no one would notice me and I could some how escape. But before I could make my legs work, a tall older lady was standing in front of me. She wore a black shirt and white pants that looked like they’d been iron over an over again. Her chin length hair was white and very straight. The smile she gave me seemed forced and a little annoyed that I had interrupted her class. With out a word she put her had firmly on my back and directed me to an empty sit at a table with a bunch of other kids. I sat down in a daze. She spoke to some of the kids around me but I didn’t hear a word. A girl with short hair gave me some different color folders and told me to write the different subjects on the front, math, English, science. I began to write the word “science” and then I realized I couldn’t remember how to spell it. I was so embarrassed, I felt like I had forgotten everything. The kids were very friendly and eager to help but I was so self-conscious. I avoided talking to them and spent most of the day alone.
Over time I made some good friends, or so it seemed. I would soon learn the hard way the people were not always what they seemed. Let me just now that I was a gullible little girl. I was not used to having friends. I pretty much did anything they said because I didn’t want to risk loosing my “cool” friends. They were like a pack of lions. The leader, Melody was nice to for a little while but then I became an easy target. She used me to boost her selfconfidence. As fifth grade came alone so did the name-calling and the bullying. I could see it and I understood what was going on but I didn’t know what to do about it. So I did the only thing I could, I started pushing myself away from them. I found some new friends. One of them was a boy. His name was Nate and he was my first crush. I was also a friend with the girl he liked, Daniela. Yea that might be kind of sad but she was really nice to me. Gratefully the rest of the year went smoothly, only after I made enemy of Melody.
Surprise, surprise, after two years of being in the same place, I had to rip my roots from the ground again. I was ready to move on and maybe get a fresh start in a new school, a new place. I was starting to like newness but I hated saying good-bye to my friends. This move to us to the west side of town to a neat neighborhood on a street called Cinnamon. The house looked like it had been asleep for a long time. It was dark and gloomy and reminded me of a gingerbread house. The wood siding was bent and warped from the constant sunshine. I wasn’t sure I like it at first but I didn’t complain. I was just happy to have a room of my own and a roof over my head. Many things happened during the four years we lived in that house. Some of which were life changing. But most of these life-changing events were not positive. As sixth grade rolled around I was desperate to break down the wall of shyness that had cemented itself around me. It became a constant inner struggle that would stay with me for a long time. Hendricks Elementary was different then any other school I’d been to. All the kids knew each other and had already formed little clicks. The first day was a blur of faces and an overload of information. I was again the new girl but it felt worse then it usually did. As I was getting older, the things that never used to bother me were suddenly hard to handle. I could tell everyone was curious about me, including the teachers but no one was nice enough to start a conversation. So I just sat there smiling, trying not to draw any attention to myself.
After school, my brother and his new friend Chris decided to go play outside and I tagged alone. He wasn’t very keen on having me around but I didn’t care. I walked a few paces behind them, minding my own business. All the houses had their own personalities. Some had clean and tidy front yards, others looked like wild jungles. For the most part it was a friendly and inviting place to live. No wonder my mom liked it so much. As I gazed further down the street, I could see a park. It was a big one with lots of trees, a swing set, and a good-sized green field to run around on. As we came to a cul-de-sac, Chris pointed out his house. It was on the corner, just a few houses down from ours. My focus went to the exterior of the house. It was nice, in my opinion it looked more interesting then our house and it had more character.
I was checking out the front yard when I noticed a girl. She was sitting on a blanket with a red umbrella propped up next to her, I immediately recognized her from school. A first I pretended not to notice her and just as I was about to follow the boys, she looked up at me. She smiled and I smiled back. I stood there for a moment not sure if I should talk to her or catch up with my brother. But I didn’t want to be rude so I slowly walked over to her. She must of recognized me too because she asked if I wanted to sit with her. I looked down at the ground she was sitting on and it was all gravel. I didn’t think sitting on gravel would be very comfortable but I was eager to make a new friend so I sucked it up and sat down. She told me her name was Stormie and Chris was her brother. She seemed nice enough but I was hesitate to become friends with her because of my past friend problems. But again I sucked it up and told myself to just try, that’s all I had to do, was try.
It worked out just as I had hoped. We became best friends and through her I made a lot more friends. Her and I are still friends today. Looking back now, I realized we’ve have been through a lot and our friendship has been tested several times. I had to learn how to be a good friend and making mistakes was the only way I learned. Some of those mistakes will always be with me and even though we laugh about them now, I will never forget the lessons I learned.
I was finally making friends and life at school was looking up. But home life was become a bit difficult. There was a lot of fighting between my brother and my mom. Their relationship was never very good but it seemed to be getting worse everyday. I used to blame it on the fact that my mom was not my brother’s real mom. My dad had been married before he met my mom. Tyler wouldn’t listen to my mom. He kept saying something to the effect of “You’re not my mom, I don’t have to listen to you.” She would scream back “But you still have to respect me.” I could see my mom struggling and I felt that maybe he would listen to me. But every time I butted in, things just got worse. Finally one day my dad had to intervene. It quickly became a physical fight between Tyler and my dad. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds. My dad didn’t hit Tyler. He basically tackled him because he was starting to get violent. I was there, watching, yelling, trying my hardest to do anything I could to make it stop. When my dad said he was going to call the cops, I retreated to my room. I didn’t understand why my dad would do that. I later learned that my dad’s intention was to scare Tyler into listening to them. The cop told him exactly what he didn’t what to hear. As long as he lived under his parent’s roof, he had to obey them. I watched Tyler sit there, nodding and crying. It seemed like the cop was getting through to him. But Tyler ended up moving out to go live with his grandmother.
I knew it was probably for the best but I suddenly felt more alone then ever. Everyday I’d come home from school to an empty house. You would think that’d make me want to hang out with my friends more often. It did just the opposite. I felt I needed to protect myself and my way of doing that was building up that wall again. I wanted to keep that loneliness from swallowing me but in reality it was like locking myself in a room with a hunger lion. Things couldn’t get any worse, right? Wrong!
I came home from school one day to see both the cars were in the driveway. Which meant that both my parents were home. “That’s weird, why are they home so early?” I thought to myself. The house was strangely quiet and there was no sign of my parents anywhere. I made my way slowly down the hallway and as I got closer to my parents room, I could hear what sounded like whispering. “Mom?” My voice was low and kind raspy. I didn’t hear a response. I walked faster down the hallway and looked in to my parent’s room. I saw both of them sitting on the bed. My mom’s face looked kind of red. That usually was a sing that she’d been crying. My dad’s face looked blank and emotionless.
My heart was beating so fast I could feel it in my chest and hear it in my ears. I sat down on the bed, still holding on to my backpack. I took a few breaths trying to prepare myself for anything. All kinds of scenarios went through my head. Of course the first one was that someone had died. The next one was that something happened to one of the cats. I franticly started looking around for one of them. Oh no! Or maybe we were moving again. I hoped with all my heart that it was that one.
They didn’t beat around the bush. My dad came right out and told me they were separating. Simple as that, they were going to split up. “Only for a little while,” my mom added. At first I didn’t know what to think. Them separating was way better then anyone dying. But then it hit me, hard. I wanted to ask so many questions. How long would this separation last? Were they thinking about divorce? Who was I going to live with? Would I have to split my life between both of them? I just sat there. I didn’t ask any of those questions. All I could say was “Ok”. I used the wall to completely block my emotions. I didn’t know what else to do. I wanted to stay strong for them. I could tell this was extremely hard on my mom and I hated to see her upset. I told them that I was ok with it. That I would be ok and all I wanted them to be happy. If they weren’t happy with each other, they needed to do what needed to be done. I was a rock, an emotionless freaked out rock. I looked at my dad and so was he. His face was unreadable.
So there it was, the one thing besides someone dying I hoped would never happen. I remember my dad being gone for long periods of time. He had basically moved out for a while. No one told me about that part. It seemed like months had passed and then all of a sudden my dad was back was back. They acted as if nothing happened and I couldn’t believe it. Instead of dwelling on it, I assumed they had resolved things without involving me. The scare of my short life was over. Phew! I couldn’t help but wonder what had gone wrong. What had made them feel the need to separate?
My freshman year in high school went by without a glitch. I had managed to stay with my same group of friends from junior high, which was a big confidence booster. My roots had grown strong and I was happy with my life. Until I discovered we were moving again. This time instead of renting we were buying this house. I had no idea my parents had been planning this. They had taken me to look at this house awhile back. Yes it was a nice house and the room that would be mine was great. But I was happy where I was and I thought they were too. By now I was a pro at packing. Just give me some boxes and some tape and I’m good to go. I carried all the boxes into my new room by myself. The sunshine had change the look of my room. I noticed things that I hadn’t seem the first time. The ceiling was painting to look like a sky and it had little glow in the dark stars scattered all over it. I actually liked it and as I started to unpack, I felt at home. I almost cried. Finally I could put my roots down for good.