I was born and raised (though mostly by myself) in New York City, but I call a small coastal town in Connecticut home. I had a friend from there at my second high school, the boarding one where I got sent when I had no where else to live, and she always told me "Go to Norwalk." after I admitted to her that I was living on the subways during those winter weekends. I usually laughed at her. But when I turned 18 and got myself kicked out on purpose, thinking it would be fun to be homeless in New York City full time (I didn't think most things through back then, I still don't), I ended up breaking down pretty quick and going to Norwalk. Actually, it turned out she was right on everything she said about Norwalk and I ended up staying there for awhile. Her parents did what raising (and housebreaking) they could manage to squeeze into my final teenage years and I even finished high school. It's the closest thing I've ever had to a real family and a home, so one day I just decided their my family and this is my home, or maybe they decided that for me long before I realized. I'll never figure it out.
Anyway, I made it back home again. It was a more stressful endeavor than it usually is to get here. I drove for the first time, and I’m not a steady enough driver to navigate my way out of New York City by myself, which unfortunately meant my biological mom was in the passenger seat. Not only did this mean that I was riding her into the belly of the beast (imagine an alcoholic who honestly does not believe she abused her children for years going to the town of her child's adoptive parents) but it also meant Brooklyn constantly trying to scramble into my lap on I-95, because she demanded that he come too. But I made it. I dropped her off at the train station as soon as we hit town and, alternatively, Brooklyn at doggie day care down the street. (My pseudo parents run a kitten rescue and adoption operation out of the down stairs bathroom and after a certain incident during Brooklyn's puppyhood when I had a little A.D.D. moment and he destroyed the porch, he's not allowed over anymore. We kinda deserve it.)
So here I am, after a long car ride and 4 hour odyssey in the DMV, finally in the land of kittens, coffee and homemade chocolates. The one place where all I'm expected to do is relax and recuperate before I'm off to my battles again. The one place where every thing is under - and remains under - control. I watch Kat stitch the pants of her new renaissance garb outfit, a mermaid creature this year. I watch Futurama with Ed. The hours are broken with cigarettes on the porch – and even though I’ve recently quit for the most part – I partake, easing back into quiet conversations and the breeze from the open windows, making up voices for the cats. As always when I return home, I have my fresh raw wounds that I gingerly tend. Memories of Sabina painfully linger in the fur of the other cats and corners of the house. I wake in my old room in a panic, for a moment I forgot she’s gone. For a moment I thought it was her and me in the old room again, the room where she spent her Kittendom. I cried a bit the first day and Kat consoled me. I tell her I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that it was never supposed to happen, or not knowing what did happen in the end. It happening while I was far away, locked behind doors, and there was nothing I could do to save her. That nobody survived Braddock but me and Brooklyn in the end. Out of all the fucked up things I’ve been through, I didn’t think it was possible for anything to hurt this bad anymore. It’s been three weeks but it still feels like it just happened. Kat says it might never hurt less, but I’ll stop thinking about it at least. I tell her I think this may never go away, I admit to how I barely sleep anymore. In the morning, after waking up before them both for the first time in years, Kat suggests maybe, if it’s this bad, I should consider another cat at least. I fight back the tears and shake my head “No”. Not yet. And for the first time since it’s happened she’s somebody who understands, who knows me and what we went through. Sabina was my only family since the day I left home to the moment she disappeared. Most of the time, besides my guitar, she was all I had, the only reason I slept at night and the only reason I woke up, too. But as always with the wounds I bear after being far away from home, fighting battles against the world, for months too long, I soldier on. Only one memory I came home with has ever hurt this bad before, and I survived that, so I sip the coffee and relax as best as I can, walk up the street and take Brooklyn for a walk from the day care to sooth my nerves whenever I need it. I breath deep, finally free of the degrading relationship I’m trapped in with my biological mom. The family friends come over. I immerse myself in all the new stories I missed while I was away. New cats and housing adventures. New heroes and villains, in our own mythology. Everything here is easy, everything is the way it should be. The place I’ve grown and finally, after 18 years of hardship, first learned to be myself. The place I found where I really just want to be. Sometimes I feel like my life is one giant game of tag and I’m just trying to make it to that one lamp post that’s “safe”. I’m home.