We didn’t always live on Lua Street. Before that we lived on North Street. But there was nothing before that. Ten years we lived in that big house with the blue door, the door my dad promised he would paint red. He never got around to it. The house was tarnished white and set back far from the street on a grassy hill that ate up the driveway when no one mowed it.
The night before the move I scratched my life into the back of my closet. “1997-2014” looked like smudged charcoal against a pale wall. The morning we left I was not sad. My family had been created and destroyed under the roof of 35 North Street; I was ready to move on.
Lua Street is different. The house is not consumed by a luscious garden or tall pines. The floors do not have dog nail scuffs. The kitchen table is not worn down from plate after plate of spaghetti. Most unsettling is the wall that divides our side of the house from our neighbor. It seems too thin when he drinks and stumbles up the stairs. He is the kind of unpleasant man who doesn’t care if he keeps you up at night, even though you’re a student. Momma is strong, though, and promises to keep him quiet.
My father doesn’t have a house. He lives in a small room at my uncle’s in New Hampshire, content with being far from the old white house that is overgrown with memories and well-kept by its new owners. Lua Street burns his tongue. He wants a house for us kids again, he says. But I would rather live out in the boonies with the thousands of frogs and too-slow Internet than go back to that house.
We always buy houses on the left side of the street. My father says it brings the electricity to us faster, but I think he’s just scared of change. The house on North Street was on the left. Momma bought a house on the left side too – 105 Lua Street. Even when my father’s hold on Momma is gone, it keeps her in the cycle. I asked her why, when nothing goes right. She tells me and I smile. Maybe the left is where we belong for now. But the thing about lefts is that if you keep taking them, you end up right back where you started.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.