I just realized I have not posted in more than two months. Therefore, I am a terrible human being.
Sooooo…. It’s been almost three whole weeks since we moved to Wisconsin. The last two months were pretty busy, and the last few weeks in particular have been mixed with happiness, sadness, struggle, surprise, and even an epiphany or two.
We had a goodbye dinner two days before we left, and I was surprised at how sad I was at the end of it. I’ve been so excited to leave over the last year, so determined to never look back. But at that dinner, when I thought about how it would be the last time for a long time that I would see any of my friends and family, I was heartbroken. I didn’t expect that.
We traveled by train on a 30-hour odyssey which created a lovely, scenic buffer between my New York experience and the journey ahead of me. It also gave me a lot of time to think about the phase of my life I am leaving behind. One thing really stood out for me: the idea of family.
My parents kicked me out when I was 18 years old after an altercation we had. They didn’t look for me for the first couple of months, but after that my father would text me every once in a while to tell me he loved me, and my mother would call to say hi. I ignored both of them. I never expected them to be perfect, I just expected them to be parents, and they failed me in this respect many, many times. And on the day of that altercation, I realized that they knew they had failed and they didn’t care. As a matter of fact, they saw themselves as victims. They were selfish, and they will continue to be selfish for the rest of their lives. They will never regret the choices they’ve made or the pain they caused. I understood then that me and my siblings were simply collateral damage in the clusterfuck that is their lives.
That was the moment when my relationship with my parents fell apart, and I have no intention of repairing it.
Part of the reason I was so excited at the prospect of moving to a different state was because it would leave a physical barrier between me and my past. I wouldn’t have to pass by the shelters I lived in as a teenager every day in order to attend my college. I wouldn’t have to look around every time I passed a certain street, afraid I would run into my parents. It would give me peace of mind. For me, this journey has many layers. Not only is it important to create new opportunities for myself, but it was important to be able to take advantage of those opportunities away from the baggage I’ve been carrying for so long.
At 18 years old, I felt like I came from nowhere. I had no family, no connection, nothing but painful memories. Since then, I’ve been wandering. I move every couple of years, I switch jobs a lot, I don’t have a lot of friends. As my friends and husband get mad at their own parents for being overbearing, I am often upset because I feel like I can’t relate, and more than anything that makes me sad.
My point… I thought moving to Wisconsin would be a clean break because I didn’t have a family. Who would I miss? Who would miss me? It would give me a real chance to do what I’ve been doing in much smaller ways for the last 8 years: I could wander. I wanted to disappear.
This is why I was so shocked at my emotions in the days before I made the trek. Somehow, I have found myself in the middle of a network of people who function much like a family. My best friends are my sisters. I have a couple of brothers, too. My best friend’s parents are my surrogate mom and dad. So are Angel’s parents.
I’ve been so upset about the relationship I will never have with my mom and dad, and without realizing it I picked up 2 moms and 2 dads.
My parents know that I have moved because my sister told them. They did not reach out to me, and I did not reach out to them. My best friend’s parents, on the other hand, reached out to me. Gave me a card. Gave me money “just in case.” My best friend’s dad is giving Angel advice on the things he should look out for when we’re ready to get a car. Angel’s mom has been in touch with us both almost every day since we left, has asked us if we needed anything, and has kept us up-to-date on the happenings in New York.
When did this happen? When did I get a family?
As I left New York on August 17th, and as I continued my journey on the 18th, I felt a kind of peace which I’ve never felt before, and a different kind of peace than what I was expecting. My parents are awful people. My childhood was awful as a result. They were never there for me, and they never will be. But that’s okay. All of these experiences have made me who I am. I am grateful that I grew up the way I did and with the people I did. And I am not alone anymore.
I wanted to visit different places in New York that meant something to me before I left because I had no intention of ever coming back. I didn’t get that chance because I got really busy in the days leading up to the move. In hindsight, I think this was for the best. There was no need to say goodbye. The episodes of my life that have scarred me the most ended a long time ago, and they should stay in that long-ago place. No need to drudge them up now.
Also, I will have to go back. I left people behind that I really care about, and I no longer want to disappear.
Anyhoo… that was the epiphany. I’ve been at peace ever since.
The trip itself was awesome. We rode 3 trains and a bus to get here, and I got to see a lot of cities that I’ve always wanted to see, if only briefly. I took something like 500 pictures, got to see the most amazing moon in Toledo at 2am and then a misty sunrise over the fields of Indiana. I brought my laptop so I could blog and my Nook so I could read, but I never touched these devices. I just stared out the window at the beauty that is my country, excited for all of the wonderful adventures waiting for me at the other end of the journey.
We got to our apartment on Monday, which is an AMAZING apartment. We had one neighbor in our complex at the time, and she is growing a garden just outside my window. We got to have beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers from that garden. We now have a few more neighbors, but we haven’t met them yet.
Everyone in town has been so nice. Horribly, grotesquely nice. People that I don’t know and that don’t know me say hello while passing me in the street, and I have to keep remembering not to put on my “New York” face. And yes, there is a “New York” face. It’s a mean face. The kind of face that says, “If you try to talk to me I’ll cut you.”
It’s been a learning curve. We discovered quickly that the bus system is nothing like New York’s. It’s completely unreliable and doesn’t run frequently. Also, the only people who to ride the bus seem to have mental issues or some sort of disability that prevents them from driving. So we’ll need a car at some point.
The movers took about a week longer than expected in getting our stuff to us, so our first week was hard. We came here with almost no money (and thank Jebus that my best friend’s parents gave us money or else we wouldn’t have food right now), and we didn’t want to waste what we did have on cookware because we already have so much of it. So we couldn’t really cook. We were also anxious to get our bikes, which would give us some freedom. Angel was jonesing for his xbox and was incredibly bored. We had a cable box, but no TV.
We were so happy when we finally had our things, and we have since made many meals here. We had to get our bikes fixed up, but we were finally able to take them for a grocery run 2 days ago. Neither of us are experienced bikers, so it was hard, and I got into what could have been a pretty serious accident, but, I mean, mission accomplished.
My accident happened on the way back home from the supermarket. We were going down a real gradual hill when my front wheel ended up in the grass. I moved slightly to get out of it, and then my bike stalled. I think maybe I braked harder than I should have, or maybe I hit something big in the grass. But in any case, I went flying off the bike. Thankfully, I was wearing both a helmet and a backpack which was heavy with groceries. The backpack ended up hitting me in the back of the head as it went forward, knocking my helmet past my nose. Well, I landed nose-first onto the pavement, so that ended up being a really good thing and saved me from a broken nose or worse.
I got out of that unfortunate accident with just some scrapes on my knee and arm, and a sore nose. So that was good.
Now I’m scared to ride the bike, but I also understand that I don’t have a choice if I want to get anywhere fast, so fuck fear. You live, you learn.
The quality of the food here is better, the air is cleaner, and the people are nicer. I can’t ask for anything more at this point. I am happy. Angel starts working on Monday, and I start orientation on Tuesday. So chapter two is finally beginning. I can’t wait to see what life has in store for us now…
Until next time, friends.