For years, all I could think of was how to get out. Straight A’s through high school, off to a great college on the west coast come graduation, a shiny college degree in my back pocket and a job somewhere in a warm city. I’d hit the open road and never look back. No one was going to stop me from running away.
There was a point in time where I hated anyone who used that term to describe my plan. They’d look me dead in the eye and say, “You know, Aubrey, you can’t run away from your past.” My response was always instant. “It’s not running away when you’ve been pushed out the door.” And that’s how I felt. Pushed around.
The moves started when I was eight and continued until I was 18. The summer before my senior year of high school, things got ugly. I lived with my mother then. One day we were walking somewhere along fine, and the next I was being screamed at to get out.
I’ll never forget how incredulous I was that she pushed it so far with me, her only ally. I was standing in my room, packing whatever I could grab and stuffing it into two white garbage bags, when BAM! my door crashed open and hit the wall. She was standing there, with the cordless phone stuck to her ear, saying things like “No respect, no respect at all, she hurt me, she actually pushed me around.” I grabbed the phone from her and hung it up. I didn’t say goodbye; I just carried my stuff downstairs, threw it in the car, and left.
I joke that I took a ten year vacation from living with my dad. The day I moved back in, it was like those ten years never happened. The back yard still had the same squishy and lush grass as it did when I was a kid. The gasoline smell in the garage was still as strong as ever and my dad was just as happy as always to have me in his life.
All those times people were telling me that I couldn’t escape my past, I took it as a challenge. I thought they meant I wasn’t capable of trying, that I was weak. But now I get it. You see, home isn’t exactly a physical place. Not even close. It’s a place you hold inside of you and take with you when you run. And it can be a messy hodgepodge of everything you have ever encountered. Mine just happens to be made up of a couple different places, houses I’ve lived in that weren’t homes on their own, but when I chose to live in them and leave them, I made them mine.