My boyfriend, Luke, is applying to law school. Much like the undergrad application process, this requires writing a personal statement: a story that reflects who you are and why you are a strong candidate for furthering your education. After a lot of thought, he decided to write a story that he didn't really want to tell at first, one that he has tried to forget. Some stories are harder to tell than others.
I was incredibly impressed with the courage it took for him to write the following piece and asked him to share it with you all. This blog has become an exercise in vulnerability. When we share the wounded parts of ourselves, we come so much closer to finding the strength we've been aching for.
It was late at night, and I was laying on my bed watching TV. I heard a quick knock at the door, and before I could even respond, my mom slipped in. “Pack your backpack” she said, “we're leaving.” I didn't hesitate to get started – I knew exactly what was going on. I emptied my ratty blue L.L. Bean backpack – the same tattered backpack that I had used since seventh grade – and hastily stuffed a pair of jeans, a pair of boxer shorts, socks, and long sleeved and short sleeved tee shirts inside. I threw on my new navy blue Saint John's Prep Eagles sweatshirt, popped on my sneakers, and booked it out of my bedroom.
My house is inconveniently designed. When you enter through the front door, there's a small anteroom where we leave coats and shoes. Take a right – this leads to the kitchen and dining area. When you take a U-turn in the dining room, you'll reach the family room. At the far side of the family room is the narrow hallway that leads to our bedrooms. My room is at the end of the hallway, on the right. I didn't want to have to leave the house – that meant I would have to cross the family room to do so. That's where Dad would be.
I tried to walk as casually yet expediently as possible. The sofa that Dad sleeps on is positioned in such a way that when he lays down, he can see straight to the end of the hallway. He was there, of course, as he had been every night for the last two years. It was awkward. I tried not to look at him as I took my walk of shame, but I failed. He glared at me. His face betrayed a mix of sadness, disappointment, hatred, and rage. I feared that he would lash out at any moment, but I knew he wouldn't. I stole a quick glance at the coffee table: Dad's books had been swept aside, revealing the giant black blotch where the wood was stained by his nightly gin and tonic.
Mom was darting around the kitchen, collecting her things. She had her coat on and her keys in hand. She looked like she had been ready to go for a while. “Got everything?” she asked. “Yeah” I nodded. We left the house without saying a word to Dad. He wouldn't follow us. He'd probably continue to lay on the sofa and seethe. We tossed our bags in the back seat of the car. “Where are we gonna go?” I asked Mom as I climbed into the passenger's side. She started the engine. “I don't know, but we aren't staying here.” When we pulled out of the driveway, I finally had time to think. Dad had been an alcoholic for some time now. His drinking became excessive when I started high school, and harmful when I was a sophomore. This wasn't the first time that he had been abusive, either. In fact, most nights were chaotic. He'd watch C-SPAN and rant about the evils of politics. When Mom would try to pacify him, he'd take it personally and launch a full scale verbal assault. My desk shared a wall with the family room, so every night I had the pleasure of hearing – albeit muffled – the excitement. Occasionally I heard a loud thump or a bang. I'd cringe – I liked to believe he missed whatever he was aiming for.
Tonight I wasn't an accidental spectator, though. Tonight I was a participant. I looked out the window. We had been in Salisbury for a while, but I couldn't recognize where exactly. It was a rural-looking place; trees and trailer homes for miles. We finally reached our impromptu destination. I read the busted, half-lit sign: “MOTEL.” It was surreal. I thought things like this only happened in fiction. Mom parked in front of the management building. “Wait here,” she ordered, before closing the door. I immediately locked the car. Fortunately, not five minutes had passed before she returned. We drove a short distance to our parking space, where I hopped out and hoisted my backpack over my shoulder. I prepared for the worst.
Our room was bare. The walls were a blueish-green. There was a king sized bed along the wall, and across from it sat an archaic, twenty-inch TV set. There was a small bathroom in the back. I don't remember if the lights didn't work, if they were dim, or if we didn't use them, but the room was dark. Mom turned the TV on, giving the room an eerie blue hue. Meanwhile, I set up camp on the bed. This was home tonight.
*Read more from Luke.
*Read more from Luke.