Tuesday, August 13, 2013
I was still a child.
That part still strikes me.
I was a willful, independent, self-starting, motivated, clever, manipulative, larger-than-life, talented, big-dreaming...child.
My family was living in central America at the time. I was neck-deep in dramas that my parents were gamely ignoring. I wanted to escape.
I told them I wanted to move back to the States; to stay with a friend's family on their estate in the rolling idyll of the Napa Valley. Applying to universities would be easier.
They told me: OK.
But you can never come home.
My decision, at that point, had already been made. It was only when the little plane rose above the end of the runway, my parents' house disappearing into the broccoli puffs of jungle below, that it even caused a ripple.
You can never come home.
The way we lived, moving from beige shell to beige shell at the whims of the Air Force, a place with them was the only 'childhood home' I had. Their furniture, carved into prim English roses from Phillippine jungle wood; the cats, whom I remember visiting in quarantine in Panama; my father's books, which I began to gobble up in middle-school and reread until I left. (I remember the day so many of those treasures were thrown out; I remember my father's face.) There is no building I can stand in front of and say: "here, I spent my formative years." There is no such thing as a "permanent address."
That was so many years ago. In the span of time since then, I have perfected the art of molluskhood. Onward, onward, onward to the next. No shell can hold me. There is always another. I am not a child any longer.
Now, as I enter my 30's, their rumbles get louder. They ask: when are you coming home?
Maybe you forgot what you told me. Here -- I'll remind you.
I am never coming home.