Thursday, August 22, 2013

north carolina, day 6....on Bakers Mill Road.

we left the beach to head back to durham, and had a few hours before we were meeting others for dinner, so we decided to take a stroll down memory lane and drive past the group home we had once managed.

we passed the Food Lion, where we used to grocery shop with the teenagers, and shopped at the mall where one of the clients ran away from me for a few hours.  that was a terrifying day, let me tell you.  i had to get security involved to help me find her, and was panicking with the thought of the phone call i was going to have to make to her mother, telling her that i couldn't find her 10-year-old daughter.

once she was finally found, she knew she was going to lose all of her privileges when we returned to the home, so i had to endure an hour long temper tantrum, standing among a crowd of strangers all fresh from Christmas, innocently enjoying their day off, while she screamed curse words at me with mucus running down her nose and into her mouth.  as firm as i tried to stand during that afternoon, and as calm as i attempted to look, inside i was shaken.  

we kept driving, passing the elementary school we had visited for reasons no one should ever have to visit an elementary school.  as we turned down Bakers Mill Road, i was brought back to the different life i had lived. i had driven up and down this street more times than i could count, the wheels of the group home van rolling over the pavement as we went to and from one therapy appointment to the next, tensely gripping the steering wheel while taking one of the clients to the hospital, going to church and praying for them to make it through the 3 hours without losing it, on our way to one of the schools to pick up a teenager who was expelled for attempting to kill the vice principal with a stapler {true story}.

we pulled up to the house, which was now just a home for a family.  i wanted to run up the stairs and throw open the front door, inhaling to see if the scent that used to turn my stomach was still there, to see if the piano she had stood and jumped on while screaming the F-word was still there, to look for the patch-jobs on the walls from the multiple holes that had been punched in them were still there, to see if the office door with the glass squares that had been broken while i was just inches away was still there.  i wanted to see if the upstairs bedroom that had become a sanctuary for my then-family of 3 was still Bracing Blue, the color ben and i had loved so much and picked out together.

i wanted to know how life could be lived differently in that home-- without the anxiety, stress and fear i had attached to it.  i wanted this house to lose its power over me.

i held my hand out of the window, taking a picture of the brick and the green with my phone.  as we slowly drove back down the tree-lined street, i thought of the last time i had looked at the house in the rearview mirror, finished with our year contract, already a day behind schedule from a faulty moving company, frantic to get on the road and taste the peace of just our family again.

this time as we drove i only felt content. i knew how much i had changed from those experiences, from that year, and i realized as we turned off of Bakers Mill Road that the memories i had were just that now.  moments of my life, not what defined it.  i had kept the good with me, and left the hard and traumatic within those walls.

the house that was no longer a group home had already lost its power.

we arrived at dinner, meeting up with our bosses, co-workers and friends--part of the small group that helped us to not lose ourselves during those 12 months.  it was so great to get caught up on the changes that had taken place in the 5 years since we'd last seen them.  i remember the loneliness--i had no friends outside of them, no social outlet, aside from them.  i'm grateful for their support, the kind that can only come from someone who has lived that life.  that was the year i started blogging, desperate for a way to reach to the outside world.  

which brings us full circle, i guess....blogging about when i began blogging. it's funny to me how life can do this, showing you shadows of yourself just from a drive down a familiar street and dinner with familiar faces.

our last night in north carolina was a meaningful one for me, and the perfect way to end our visit.

1 comment:

Rachel Chick said...

This makes me cry. What a blessing life is - the atonement is - to have the power to change who we are. I'm so thankful for those moments of reflection. I love you, Lynsey Strader. Thank you for blogging.