I took a road trip back to where I began. I passed the time reminiscing on the present, softening the jagged edges of the past with hazy nostalgia. I became a stranger in my memories where everything seemed to be the same while I returned so different. I easily let go of all of the pain and remembered the good times full of excited screams and tinkling laughter of children. The fondness of the days before monopolized my mind as I drove and I felt, just for a second, I could re-create my childhood with those fleeting moments of happiness. I wanted to stretch them until they were an unending road with a divider in the middle for my siblings to drive alongside me. But, we carried our scars with us on that road and over packed our baggage in the trunks of our cars until they could take no more. It slowed us down just enough to see the trash littering our highway of edited memories of times when we all smiled in unison, at each other.
You never really escape the past. You can overcome it, yes, but it’s always there attached to your feet like a shadow casting a different version of you. Reminding you of where you’re from. We thought we left the anger in the past, but we packed it with our toiletries, zipped it up inside our luggage and unpacked it in the same place where we once took a break from being a victim and smiled for photos with our attacker. We arrived without the innocence of childhood and faced the reality of abuse as adults like walking the boardwalk in Atlantic City in the harsh light of noon day after spending the night surrounded by the sparkling lights of the casino inside.
We had once skipped across that space as children and now we moved slower as adults watching as parents now. Watching our offspring create the same memories we did and hoped someday they would be able to romanticize away the domestic abuse we were so artfully trained to perpetuate. We smiled in pictures with them and smiled in unison, at each other.