It used to look like this.
Now it looks like this.
They used to look like this.
Now they look like this.
The house and the boots were both tangible connections to my step into freedom from domestic violence. Now the house and the boots are being replaced. They are as intangible as the memories attached to them.
It’s sad. I’m sad. I’m surprised at how sad I am at hearing the house has been leveled. The house was old, built in 1951. It was out of date and (I’m pretty sure) not entirely up to code. The windows leaked, the doors leaked, the lights buzzed when you turned them on, and the whole heating and air system blew out from the center of the house so the rooms weren’t necessarily comfortable no matter what the thermostat was set at. It wasn’t a house to stay in forever. It was a starter house. It was our house (even as a rental).
When I escaped Donkey, the kids and I first lived in a domestic violence shelter in rural Missouri. We stayed there as long as we could – six weeks. I didn’t want to leave. It was safe. We were protected. The location was confidential and even my Mom didn’t know where we were. Once our time was maxed out, we moved out of the shelter and into my sister and brother-in-law’s home on the outskirts of St. Louis. I found a job and five months later we moved into The Brown House. There we lived together, the three of us, the new nuclear family, for a year and a half, until Donkey’s abuse once again turned our world inside out.
Every time we visit St. Louis now, my daughter asks to drive by The Brown House. It is dear to us. My son has only vague memories of it, and I think maybe he remembers more of the feeling than the location. My daughter and I feel connected to it. It was our Freedom House. It is where loved bloomed and outgrew the walls. It is where safety and security coupled with laughter and health to birth our new normal.
It was where we built a family garden together.
It was where we cooked together and ate together.
It’s where we celebrated holidays together.
It’s where we played outside together.
It’s where each day ended with bathtime and bedtime.
It’s where we could be a mess and make a mess.
It’s where we could be ourselves.
It’s where our new life began and ended. Now the life that was is no more. Now the house that was is no more. Now the intangibles are what’s left as the tangibles disappear.