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That’s what I want to speak about for my final post about my recent trip to the States.
I want to preface my comments by saying I do not like Staten Island. If I ever did, I’ve long forgotten.
Staten Island is Not My Cup of Tea
Staten Island is the place where I was attacked at age 15. It’s a place where I attended my thoroughly mediocre high school, where despite there being thousands of students, I never could find my place. Where the only person who helped guide me to find out the person I wanted to be, also crippled my self-esteem by telling me I wouldn’t get into the college I ultimately attended (and graduated Summa Cum Laude).
I looked at Staten Island as a place most known for a gigantic garbage dump and for an admittedly lovely ferry ride, whose primary purpose is shuttling people along to see the skyline and the Statue of Liberty… before hopping right back on so they can spend as little time on “the island” as possible.
Possibly my most vivid memories of Staten Island are the myriad trips I took out of there, often spending up to two hours walking, taking a bus, then a ferry, then a train, just to get to someplace I actually wanted to be. It was like I was trapped in outer space somewhere, and if I wanted access to civilization, it would cost me dearly.
Because of these massive schleps, I developed years of a bad relationship with time. I found myself ridiculously early for things, always paranoid that if I didn’t leave really early, I would be massively late. And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of punctuality. But I had no clue that later on in life I’d move to a country in which absolutely nothing runs on time. I can’t tell you how many weddings I showed up to early, only to be waiting hours for any of the festivities to begin.
Saying Goodbye to My Childhood Home
Clearly I have no real attachment to Staten Island. I did not attend my high school graduation. I haven’t been back for any reunions. And when I visit my parents, I’m either in their home, shopping, or taking the big journey to Manhattan. So when my parents told me the time had come for them to close up shop and move to Florida, I shed no Staten Island tears. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back again. Thirty year high school reunion? Perhaps. Outside of that, I think I’m settled parting ways for good.
But I didn’t just say goodbye to Staten Island on this last trip.
I said goodbye to my childhood home. The only place in the world I really think of as “home”.
And sure, I loved living in Kansas City, but I’ve been gone for some time now, and 90% of the people I knew there have since moved out. From what I understand, if I were to visit, I’d barely recognize the place.
And even though I haven’t lived in my parent’s house in nearly 30 years, it doesn’t change the fact that it has always been a safe place for me. It’s a constant. It’s base.
My Safe Place
There’s a room that’s hardly “my room” anymore, that I will nevertheless always think of as my room. I walk in the front door and start feeling like I belong again, like everything’s back to the way it was. Simpler times. My parents can redecorate or paint or whatever to the house hundreds of times, but the feeling of returning to your home base never goes away. Not even a little bit.
And I’m still wrapping my head around the idea that I’ll never have that feeling again.
It’s jarring. Unsettling. I have very few constants in my life. Very little that I look at and I can say it’ll be exactly the same way if I were to return in ten years. And for someone who thrives on stability, I feel like another piece of me keeping me sane has just been wrestled away.
When my grandmother passed away nearly twenty years ago, I remember thinking that it didn’t seem possible. I mean, Grandma Ann doesn’t go anywhere. She’s a permanent fixture in my life, and will always be there to bring light into my life. I felt this so strongly that even as I type this, I’m still having a level of struggle accepting the idea that she’s no longer a part of my life.
So it’s no wonder I’m struggling so hard with this.
I mean, the decision is logical. The house is too big and not structured appropriately for my parent’s needs. And New York is just not at all what it used to be. And, of course, they are moving closer to a whole slew of beloved family members. But there’s that small piece of me that feels something between anger and disappointment that this rock in my life is going to be removed.
But Then There’s the Other Side
And on the complete other side of me, there’s only what I could describe as total indifference.
Like this was a long time in the making, and I’m completely glad to sever ties with Staten Island. I haven’t lived in that house for any measurable amount of time in nearly three decades. And those decades were packed with so much. Marriages, children, university, jobs, career switches, love, joy, pain, tears. All happening as this house, this inanimate fixture, just remained on the sidelines as a side-point in my life.
If anything, separating from my childhood home is yet another opportunity for a bit of a rebirth. A new and fresh start. Another chapter closed to a long and complex several decades on this planet.
When I stepped out of my childhood home for my last time, I expected sadness. Maybe a tear here or there.
But instead I felt something I never imagined I would have felt: Absolutely nothing.
I truly hope I’m able to keep with me all the good times. All the fondest memories.
And I can move forward to this next stage in my world with nothing but positive thoughts as well as great aspirations for the bright future ahead.