I've finished compiling a chronological list of the places we lived before my parents divorced. I knew this was going to be a challenging feat, but once it was all mapped out, staring me in the face, that's when the reality of it all truly hit me.
I knew we moved a lot, but to say we lived in a new space every year would be an understatement. And that's not even including the three separate women's shelters where we took refuge during interim moves. Once we landed at Cherry Lane, the moving came to a halt, but the tragedies certainly did not — and when I left at sixteen, I carried that moving tradition on well into my early adult years.
I wonder now if there wasn't some comfort to the leaving and creating a new space every time as a young adult? Clearly this is not something I would have been able to name at the time, but it would make sense to me now. As I started to look deeply within myself in my early thirties, becoming more aware of my experiences and honest with myself, life slowed down a bit for me, and my physical environments began to stabilize in a way I hadn't experienced before.
I can't express how envious I am of those whom had or even still have a childhood home to return to. I really have nowhere to look back upon to place the bulk of my growing years. That just wasn't possible for us. Our lives were constantly scattered, the instability of the physical locations correlating directly to the chaos inside of us. Even now, as I type these words, there's an anxiety I feel about the constant uprooting, as if we were trying to escape some terrifying monster, which, of course, we were.
I even remembered a time when I biked home from school to the wrong house, and sat down and cried because I thought my parents had abandoned me for good this time. It took about ten minutes before it sunk in that we had moved the previous weekend, to a different home on a different street in the same city. Domestic violence doesn't allow you to stay in one place for very long.
There is one space, however, that still captures happy memories from my childhood, and that is my grandparent's cabin. We would visit nearly every summer, and I have wonderful memories of sunshine, fishing, and especially the routine of waking up to warm voices in the kitchen and the smell of coffee from the percolator, and the ringing of the dinner bell every evening as dusk started to settle in over the lake.
Kids crave that routine. It speaks of stability and safety. It's something I'm realizing I created for myself as an adult, where routine becomes almost similar to ritual, carrying with it great calming powers to shut out those unsettled feelings.