When I was a kid I was forced to move around a lot. I was born in Columbus, Ohio but when I finished the 2nd grade my family and I moved to Illinois. It’s been so long that I barely remember the name of the place I lived in. I was only there until I finished the 3rd grade. I think the name of the town was Coal Valley. It was close to Moline. That much I can remember.
Then we moved down to the Carolinas where I’ve been living since. First it was Georgetown, South Carolina. Easily the smallest, most rinky dink town I’ve lived in. More so than Boone believe it or not. When I was getting ready to start the 6th grade we moved to a North Carolina town. The only thing I remember about this particular period of my life was this tiny crap shack apartment I had to live in and that I was enrolled in school for only a month. I can’t remember the town’s name, just that it had “Green” in it.
Once that month passed my parents secured their old jobs back in Georgetown where we returned. Mercifully our house hadn’t been sold. When 1999 hit and I was finishing up 6th grade we moved again to North Carolina. This time, it was Charlotte.
I haven’t thought about this in forever. I buried these memories a long time ago just like everything else. The times between each move were always filled with unrest. When it had been confirmed that my Dad had gotten the job in Illinois I remember seeing my Mom cry in the home office that used to be my bedroom. She didn’t want the move to happen. And she hated the house we lived in during Illinois.
I hated leaving every home. I hated having to separate from the few friends I had made. I hated having to start over from scratch all over again. I hated every big change that kept happening in between moves.
There are a few things that stayed consistent in my life during all this. The memories are slowly coming back to me.
I remember I had this pillow that I loved. There was nothing special about it. I just really liked it. I loved snuggling with it, clutching it tight like it was a teddy bear. I had that pillow with me through all my moves. I had it from the time I was in 2nd grade and I didn’t let it go until I was almost 16 years old. I didn’t care how torn up or gross looking it was. It didn’t just provide comfort but it was one of the few things that stayed with me through all 4 states. Recently I’ve noticed that I’ve been seeking comfort with the pillows I have now. Almost like I’ve regressed.
Then there were my childhood heroes; the Ghostbusters and the Power Rangers. I liked Batman and the X-Men too, but I didn’t obsess over them. I collected all sorts of toys, I recorded episodes and watched them obsessively. I even had my own story ideas based on Ghostbusters and Power Rangers that my Georgetown friends and I used to act out. We role-played as our own characters and added in all kinds of stuff. We probably crossed over our Power Rangers with Dragon Ball Z and Batman at some point. Even after moving to Charlotte I kept acting things out in a one-man show type of style. Whenever my parents or brother overheard me or walked in on me you can imagine it was quite awkward. But I didn’t let that stop me. At some point I stopped with the role-plays and I put away my toys, yet I never got around to completely growing out of things.
The move to Charlotte was the worst for me. I had just turned 14, started 7th grade, and was immediately labeled a “fucking faggot” by everyone before I even had a chance to wrap my mind around it. I knew I was different from others before then, but I didn’t place a word on it until I entered Sun Valley Middle. Those kids weren’t just monsters, but they were like prototypes to the jaded, cynical adults that I would grow to hate and never wanted to become.
At that point I kept seeking refuge in the things that gave me the most comfort and I found other interests that did the same thing. That’s when I seriously got into anime and video games. While everyone was busy reading Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings I was saving the worlds of Final Fantasy 8, The Legend of Dragoon, and Brave Fencer Musashi. The only pro-LGBT things I was watching on television back then was Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sailor Moon. If I were a lesbian I’d probably would’ve been more empowered, but I still enjoyed watching them. By this point I had pretty much cemented my status as a complete nerd.
I had a lot of story ideas in my head. I would imagine characters as if they were my real friends because they weren’t as vile and toxic as the people I knew in my real life. I did the best I could to keep it all contained within myself. I didn’t wanted to share with anyone. Whenever I did share with someone I’d soon come to regret it. So by not sharing anything I thought I was keeping those characters safe from outside interference and the toxicity that came with it.
The only friend I still have from this distant past is Ellison. We met when I was in 4th grade. Our personalities are like night and day. I know I drove him and his brothers crazy. But he still stayed my friend, we still had great sleepovers, and we had a lot of good laughs. A lot of them at my own expense. I lost contact with him for years, but got back in touch with him through the magic of social media. Ellison must’ve been a saint or a monk in a past life because how else would anyone put up with me? He’s more of a brother than my own blood.
Then I grew up. Something I’m beginning to think was a terrible life decision. Seriously…worst advice I ever followed….
I think a huge reason why I am the way I am is because of all the moving. Whenever someone asks me what my big plans are my usual response is, “Nothing really. Just gonna chill at home.”
Or someone, family or friend, suggested going out I’d shut them down, “No! I don’t feel like it!”
When it was time to move away I didn’t have a say in any of it. When Ellison and his family moved away to Maryland I was left behind. Whenever my Dad would always yell at me I always felt powerless in the same way I did when I roamed the hallways of Sun Valley and people would give me those disdainful looks. When my parents fought there was nothing I could do except escape into my own world where everything made more sense.
That’s why I decided for myself…
“I never want to go anywhere or do anything unless it’s under my own terms. No one will decide anything for me anymore.”
“If being an adult means giving up all these things or always being sad and angry about something then I don’t want grow up!”
It might be immature to think that things should stay the same, to deny changes that were inevitable to happen, but I need consistency in my life. I crave for it. What I speak of isn’t a pillow, a superhero, or any of my interests, but something else.
-I need a place of my own to call home.
-I want friends in my real life that aren’t going to disappear on me.
-I want a fairy tale romance. Even if it’s vanilla in other people’s eyes.
-I want to live life under my own terms. Where I’m happy and that’s all that matters.
Now I’m feeling like I’m off the tangent. Cue exit.