What I was waiting for.

Fine, then leave.

It’s funny how you wince at the expectation of words only to remember how familiar they are once they come, like they have been grafted onto your skin.

There’s a reason I don’t like unpacking, ever. Rephrase that. I love unpacking. It makes me feel safe and comfortable and whole. I don’t let myself unpack or I push it away as much as possible because I know unpacking is ineffective when everything is only temporary. And everything has been only temporary my whole life. Love. Family. Parents. Home. All of it.

The only thing I’ve learned to depend on is the realization that I need to hurriedly shove my things into a duffle bag and shuffle somewhere else. I’ve been doing it since I was younger than I can remember. I just always know it’s coming like some kids always know to expect their parents to pick them up from school. It’s empirical.

So when you say those words to me, you think you’re just being grouchy, voicing annoyance with me that will wash away in the night. But I know what those words mean, what they always mean no matter who says them. They mean that I’m not a permanent fixture here. They mean that I am a guest, a visitor whose pass may be revoked at any time. As a kid, that meant one family member drove me across town to the doorstep of another family member. As an adult, it means I’m already a ghost in my environment and my occupation of it is an accepted annoyance.

You think you want me around. Sure. You say it. You’re kind most of the time. We get along. But you can’t erase twenty-nine years of meaning. It’d be like you saying my name and not expecting me to turn my head. As soon as you said that, sure my feet stayed rooted for a few seconds before I let the hurt sink in and I left the room, but as soon as you said it, I was already gone, even from myself. Because that’s what happens. As soon as somebody says something that cuts into a scar they didn’t even make, the eight year old inside of me, the real me, is flooded with fear and she dissolves. All it takes is the reminder that this isn’t necessarily a fixed part of my life to take me back to how fleeting and fragile everything is. It reminds me that I’m standing on nothing that is my own and that if I don’t bend every which way to make things convenient for others, I’ll be packing sooner than I’m ready.

I have lived a life of wearing out my welcome like that, watching the sands fall from the broken hourglass, reminding me not to get too comfortable, not to enjoy anything too much because things would take a turn for the worse and there would be nothing for me to say. So I just learned to bandaid through life, keeping my head out of the rain until I couldn’t and then being ready to dart under the nearest cover as soon as I was left vulnerable.

As a kid, I did it by staying with family members to avoid going home because I was tired of wincing until bed time every time I heard an angry tone. The hope that got me through it and gave me the courage to unpack at least part of my bag in each new place was the belief that one day, I’d have my own. I’d make my own stability and nobody would be able to tell me that this just wasn’t working out and they couldn’t raise me.

Now I’m an adult. And when you say, fine then leave, you mean fine then leave the room. I hear, this just isn’t working out so you should leave as if it is routine so that I don’t feel bad for abandoning all my promises. Humans are fickle things and I don’t care how much you say you care about me. You’ll turn out to be fickle too.

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