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For years, I’d only known them as the adorable, old couple across the street. In my toast at the wedding, I even mentioned how Grandma always brought us fresh tomatoes with a smile. Six years ago, I never would have imagined that the sweet, old couple with the veggies would indirectly save me someday. I thought I was Cinda-fucking-rella when we were still just neighbors. Back then, I had no idea that, one day, I’d need a miracle.

They poetically passed just days apart and less than a week before their grandson’s nuptials to my best friend, less than two months ago. I accepted the family’s offer and have been helping with packing in exchange for a private space for my children and myself, for a little while. I could not be more grateful, and the peace and joy it has brought to my children is breathtaking to a mother that has never seen it. Since I’ve never seen it, I never knew it was missing. It’s only temporary that we are here, but it has made me absolutely determined to create this sense of home for us, wherever we go. Months ago my son could feel my stress and worry, against my efforts to hide it, “Mommy, I don’t care if we live in a rock. As long as we’re together.” This has to mean I’m doing something right. It replays in my mind any time I think about how much I am failing.

As I go through almost sixty years of memories, photos, mason jars full of coins and tiny trinkets they thought special enough to save, and the most impressive collection of Tupperware I have ever known - I am learning who they were and their seemingly flirtatious sense of humor. On the stove, sat a bowl of microwave popcorn beneath a paper plate. I wonder if she was saving it for a movie. Maybe she was grabbing her pajamas first. A red slash drawn across each day of the calendar, including the day she passed. She finished her last day. The intimacy of cleaning up the last few things she did, felt like an honor. Carefully organizing the fragile pieces of their marriage has given me a unique understanding of the way they cherished their life together and an imagining of some of their hardships.

When the baby is asleep and the ability to accomplish noisy things like packing, unpacking, and cleaning; I am doing this. Healing and writing. No. Writing and healing. No… Healing through writing. I have never had a private place in my lifetime to process and heal one thing that has ever happened, ever. My Synesthesia interrupts this dream-come-true more vividly than ever, now. I am feeling, hearing, seeing, tasting, and smelling every single thing that happened in my life, good and bad – sometimes without any break, not even when I sleep. (See future article – “Synesthesia: Phenomenon, Blessing, or Curse?”)

Since I’ve gotten here it has been a violent roller coaster of cleansing cries, pillow screams, and the freedom to dance in my underwear without caring about a thing. I have never had this in my life, so I never realized how much I needed to cry out loud. Like ugly cry. I mean ugly. But, oh, how I needed this little corner of the world, to just be still. I think I was about to die. Maybe something in me, did.

All my life, I’ve never heard my mother say she doesn’t believe in Santa. I remember, as a little girl, times like these were proof. To this day, if you ask her, she will answer, “I believe in the Spirit of Santa,” and explain, “when an impossible problem presents itself and it seems like Christmas is ruined; somehow, someway, we have a happy Christmas.” I close my eyes and tilt my head back as I am typing now since the words are no longer legible and look like they’re wiggling and moving from the tiny puddles of tears in my vision. Thinking of all the times I looked up at my mom with puffy eyes and her glasses on – I learned early, that only meant she was crying so much about something that she couldn’t see through the cloudiness on her contact lenses. Now I understand, because I’m living it. I remember the gift box wrapped in twenty-dollar bills. I listen to the things my son says and realize if I accept the residential equivalent of that box wrapped in money, I may make him feel the same way I felt. But, he hurt you. I really thought if I could just keep my discomfort to myself, it was only mine to endure. It didn’t occur to me until we got to this little, old house that my son felt comfortable enough to voice it all. I didn’t know he was completely unhappy. My heart. I took it all for nothing. I have never been so sorry for being so wrong. Now I understand my mother. I understand her guilt, her tears, and her glasses. (See future article about the Intergenerational Transmission of Domestic Violence)

The kids are in the living room, and the sounds of their laughter fill me with relief. It wasn’t until I’d gotten to Grandma and Grandpa’s that I started this continuing, emotionally-exhausting series of epiphanies. It was surreal to smoke a cigarette on the front porch, in the freezing cold, seeing the glow of the TV in the living room across the street, where I sat with my son, just three years ago. The window to the left of the front door was his bedroom. I wonder if they left the big tree and flying leaves I painted all over the walls, in his room.

It was like I fell from the top of a tree and every branch I hit on the way down was a new realization:

I’ve never been the only adult of the house. How do I get internet for virtual learning? How much does it cost to keep the lights on? I’m a fucking idiot for thinking I can make anything happen. I went from home with Mom and Dad to being a pregnant wife, in like a month. From there, I fled one trauma, unknowingly, to another, for a decade. Have I ever healed? I’ve never healed. I’ve never had a place to process what just happened to me, because I was already mentally processing a next thing before I even knew it. I never even healed from what happened when I was little, let alone tended to the traumas since 2006.

The flashbacks are flowing. An endless memory-tunnel of vivid scenes and their loud audio are lurking in the back of my mind. The first night here, they all entered the front of my mind - like a bullet, and all the things I never let myself feel are leaking and pooling around me. I can feel the sensations of every one of the memories that have replayed themselves periodically throughout my life on top of little nuggets I didn’t even unbury until this week, all. at. once.

Uncertainty is a torture we all endure, but the one thing that is for sure: home is wherever we are, and we can love anywhere. This is what I want to engrain in my children’s minds. No matter how bad it gets, we have each other.

And with faith and each other, somehow, someway, we will make it to the other side of the street.

Are you okay today? Need a new friend to check in? Write me.

Your Friend,

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© 2020 Amanda K. Esposito