Sometimes I think about the stone I put by the tree in the yard of the first house I remember. I think about it sheltered under bare branches now, winter coming, snow not yet covering the gray rock sneaked there that sun spring day. Does it sit the way I left it, or has the unknown strains of the universe tipped it on its side, covered it with dirt or otherwise shifted its nest?

That house plays games in my mind, bigger than it is in person, brighter too. The memories are kaleidoscopes, turning into snaps of sound, the crying in my own ears. The understanding of my place in the way of things. I was 2 when we moved there, 5 when we left, and 52 when I walked away. It holds the first memories of being unliked, unfitted, and undone.

We drove there, my sisters and I, they waited in the car as I walked past the address nonchalantly, my eyes averting to another place up the street, those coordinates of shame mapped who I became that kindergarten year.

I was a fighter until then, a cryer, a temper tantrumed, stand by the wall demander. That year I lost my voice in the drifted need to hide behind the door that wasn’t going to open for me.

When it was time to move from that place, both when I was 5, and walking back to my sister’s car, I held on, and looked back. The specter of the girl I might have been waved once and sat back down. It would be a few more years before I could go back and let her know what belonging was. To explain the word I took with me as we drove away.


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