You were a foreign concept,
Before I crossed your threshold my passport was stamped with
The loneliness that only accompanies temporary rooms.
I was a small,
And distrusting girl who had never felt solid ground beneath her.
The Earth’s platelets separating me further from normality
At the beginning of each month.
Black trash bags of my belongings littered the grass of every previous rest stop,
And I thought you would be just like the others.
It was only a matter of time.
You learn not to get comfortable,
Not to unpack the baggage that you grew up developing,
And who knew somebody so young could have so much ******* baggage.
We walked the streets with it dangling from our shoulders,
I was little, and felt like Santa.
Only I didn’t much like that man, he always seemed to leave us out.
Mommy taught us that most men are like that.
They promise all sorts of things,
And then wonder why you’re upset when your hands are empty.
What mommy didn’t teach us,
Is that it wasn’t anybody’s fault but hers.
She didn’t explain that most mothers don’t disappear for days.
Or that they don’t lock themselves in rooms with torches
And men who can’t look me in the face.
She didn’t prepare me for the days that I would have you.
You saw more of my growth than she ever did,
Within your walls I first able to be a kid.
At ten I painted almost every piece of furniture in my room
without my dad knowing,
And it didn’t feel like enough until I scribbled my name into the wall beside my bed.
Marking my territory like
“I WAS HERE”
“I AM HERE”
“Do you see me?”
“Is this real?”
“If I chain pieces of myself to every corner, they can’t make me leave, right?”
When I was twelve,
I invited my best friend over for the first time.
I had never had a place to hold sleepovers,
unless the vacancy in the shelter was gone,
And a stranger shared our room with us.
But you made me feel ordinary,
Like I had a place in the world,
And wow is that a big feeling for a little girl.
And then came fourteen,
The world seemed to crash around me,
And like every fourteen year old girl
I thought I knew love.
But when he turned out to be meaner than the streets,
You let me cry,
Barricaded behind your doors,
I felt safe.
I screamed so loud I could feel you shake,
The window panes glistening with rain,
I think you cried with me.
And it was time to leave.
Our little family worked so hard for the opportunity to advance,
“Don’t worry kids, we’re going to a forever home, one that we can own”
I said **** that,
Sat on the floor until the last box left.
I never allowed myself to be planted somewhere,
But you stole the roots from my feet and tied them to your foundation.
Your walls had been drenched in my sorrows,
And in my joys.
I never would have guessed I’d meet you,
And I never realized how much I really needed you.
I’m eighteen now,
And still think about you some days.
I never got to thank you for your support that became my back bone.
It’s crazy how well you can pay attention in school when you actually have a home.
I’m here now,
And you’re there,
But you have to know
that I carry you with me everywhere.