Las Cruces, New Mexico – Memorial hospital, born to a mother relieved I wasn’t another darn boy. Grew up with the story that my conception was an ‘accident’
El Paso, Texas – 50 miles seemed a long way from home. Excited by open market: trinkets and toys. Crossing the border to deliver clothes and penicillin for the orphanage. My hero, preacher, father, the smuggler, and his scruffy, tom-boy daughter headed south in a Chevy camper van.
Texcoco, Mexico – My missionary parents seeding churches in dirty towns and deep rebellious resentment in their daughter. First kiss, first whiskey, first fuck, first and final rejection my 4th year in. They shipped me back just before I turned 15.
Elgin, Texas – High School. Outsider in a small town. Bought my own horse. Learned how useless it is to be a victim. No one cares.
Austin, Texas – Just up the road and no better when the choices are similarly bad. Spent a freezing winter night on a pool chair after a drug fueled night I barely remember. Spent 4 days as Jane Doe in a hospital ward. Jane ran out on the bill and got high.
Round Rock, Texas – Grew up a little, drank a lot. Found what I thought was safe shelter in him. Started a new, transient life.
Harlingen, Texas – My son was born in a derelict ward for Medicaid patients. He was beautiful. I was terrified, for us both.
Houston, Texas – Discovered that trying to leave was dangerous. Jane Doe left a trail of emergency room bills and police reports through 13 addresses in 8 states.
Amory, Mississippi – My daughter was born in a swank ward, her dad didn’t leave the bar and nearly missed the occasion. Too bad, I could have used the rest.
Pasadena, Texas – The first time I knew he would kill us. Confirmed. Hiding loose change.
Athens, GA – The money ran out while headed south. Spent a month living in a Buick with two babies. Sold everything for gas money, 12 eggs and a 5 lb bag of potatoes.
Tampa, FL – Spent 6 months in a family homeless shelter. Never once did they ask if we were safe, only if we’d used the required lice shampoo.
Temple Terrace, Florida – Got a job that came with an apartment. The best of times, the worst of times. 18 months. Bought a crappy little car and ran when he went to a job in Atlanta. My boss, Carrie, helped me pack, gave me money and a picnic lunch, told me to not look back. Five days later, he wrote his ultimatums on wide rule paper and pinned it to the door of our escape with a hunting knife.
Bradenton, Florida – The d.i.v.o.r.c.e was final. Life moves on. Learned to love and trust again. Bought a house. Built a life. Made my children smile. My soulmate abandoned me for meth. D.i.v.o.r.c.e. He got clean with his new wife. I saw him in the SR 70 Walmart. Crying, I turned and left without the milk.
Sarasota, Florida – Graduated with a Bachelor’s and a changed outlook.
Parrish, Florida – Lived a couple years in a too big house, a too long commute, and two shallow friends.
Boston Massachusetts – Completed a Master’s in Risk Management. I’ve had a lifetime of experience.
St. Petersburg, Florida – Life is strange. I’m career successful, alone, building a vibrant life. I’m depressed and hide it from everyone, even me. Still, so much further than I ever dreamed.