It had been twenty-four years since I’d last seen it, but the place looked exactly the same, the white swing out on the porch with the dusty chains still squeaking like ever, I remember when Dad built it himself for me when I was five. I stand in front of the brown oak entrance door of the house, glaring down on the knob, holding it with one hand, still deciding if I have the courage to enter or not. And then it hits me, it’s been twenty-four years, high time huh! So I open the door and walk right in, I waited for the wooden floor to make the bumpy noise that i remembered it to make, and it didn’t disappoint me. So far everything was exactly the way I remembered it. Until I saw the cold, empty interior of the house. It wasn’t supposed to be a shock, I knew the house was empty, but for some reason seeing it like that with my own eyes gave me a cold creepy chill. This was my house, I grew up here, I lived here and yet today, it managed to creep me out like a strange thing.
“We were planning to install heaters in the new house, once we tear this down.” Chris shouted out loud standing out on the lawn. I turned, saw him with his hands in his thick woollen coat pockets, swinging his body like a kid and smiling so big looking at me. I practically hopped out to him and hugged him tight. Chris Mallark is the only family I have left with me. My best friend, my once-upon-a-time neighbour and probably the only soul on Earth who ever believed in me. “It’s been a while huh!?” I say as I part myself from him. “Way more than a while Em. Been waiting for you! How are you?” Chris says as we walk around the lawn a bit. He’s always found my full name (Renessemme) too tiring to be called, so he just calls me Em. I half-smile half-shrug and say “I’ve been better. Missed you a lot though. Ready to dread the destination ahead?” He stops suddenly and turns to me, holding my hand warmly tells me, “You know you don’t have to do this. It’s been a long time now, You’ve grown so amazingly above all that and none of that matters anymore. So if you don’t want to, then we just shouldn’t. I completely support you.” I knew the sweet, caring Chris would say just this. I just hold his hand and start walking again. He understands and walks along. He’s right I know, but I have to do this for myself. I need to remember where I was, to understand where I am now.
We’re here. John Quincy Adams High School. Where it all started, happened and probably where it all will end now. I don’t waste much time standing outside, deciding to walk in or not. I try to feel excited and walk ahead, still holding Chris’s hand tightly. How do you leave behind the demons that stand right in front of your eye, the hallway of the school where the echo of other classmates talking and making fun of me drowning me further deep into my empty void of pain, my locker the place where I buried my face hiding from the fact that I was different. The classroom is full of good memories before I came out to the world of course. My desk still full of cuss words and names that were being given to me, “FREAK!!” was I for telling the world? As I walk past those places memories keep flashing like a slideshow. Suddenly I saw our glass shelf with the picture of the cheer leading squad of 1996. There she was, Lily, in the middle, with all her charm. Exactly what made me fall in love with her at the first place. This truth right here; I was in love with Lily, the Head Cheerleader, is exactly what my world in 1996 couldn’t bear enough and I paid the price for it.
Pain is only legit when you let it overpower you, we reach the cafeteria and I see myself standing there, goosebumps run down the spine as I see everything happening again, just the way it did before. I was having my lunch quietly all alone when those three boys held me in a corner and said things that I never could gulp down my throat, touching me places, asking me inappropriate things, the whole canteen was empty, except the football team and the cheer leading squad. Yes she was right there, watching all this, maybe it would have hurt less if I didn’t know that she was making this happen. If it wasn’t for Chris that day, I know the guys wouldn’t have had any limits of stopping. Somehow, this whole incident reached down to my parents and by the time I reached home that day, my Mom was already standing out on the porch with a look I couldn’t quite grasp yet. I walked in and saw my Dad sitting on the couch with Chris in front of him. That was probably the only moment I ever hated Chris for anything. I know he was just trying to be a good friend but he should have known my family better first. There was a reason I had kept my sexuality a secret from my own loving parents. I knew no matter how much they loved their little girl, they’d never accept their little girl like this. For some reason that I will never accept or understand, my family has always been against my kind of people.
The first thing my Dad said to me was, “We will get you all the help you need, it’ll be alright. We will fix you.” “Fix me?? I knew you would never support me being a lesbian but to try to change me on top of that? That is even low for you Dad.” Just as these words left my mouth I felt the most painful slap on my face right in the moment from my Mom. “You ever dare talk to your father like that Renessemme.” In that one moment I could not realize or understand what was so wrong about being what I am that it made the most loving parents in the world forget the value of their child’s emotions. Well things obviously didn’t stop at that slap that day. It was followed by a huge argument, a debate, lots of screaming and slight moments of understanding. You’d think we probably sorted out everything then. No! By the time I finished explaining how I genuinely felt about myself, my parents were more disgusted in me than ever and I knew in that moment, by the looks of their faces, they couldn’t bear me under the same roof anymore. “I’ll leave the house first thing in the morning if this is how it’s going to be.” They didn’t utter a word, just stared down on the wooden floor with a frown. I felt no need of waiting till the morning. I packed and I left. With whatever little I had. Chris tried stopping me but even he knew it was of no use.
Chris and I have walked back to the house now, from the school. He turns to me, hugs me tight and whispers, “ I’m so sorry about your parents. But just remember I’m the most proud of you today for being your own person and standing out there for millions more like you. I’ve always admired you and I adore you for the success you’ve achieved today. You’re never alone. I will always be with you the way I was 24 years back starting from that day.” We part and share the most warm smile. As I walk away to my car, I turn back one more time, to look at the house, I do regret leaving but sometimes some things are so necessary in life to be believed in that you have to take some hard steps alone and I don’t regret doing that. Today, I was who I am with the world respecting me for that and millions more realizing the same for themselves. I made a change, for the good, and that was all that mattered.