The Things We Left Behind

roadWhen we ran away, we did so quickly and in secret. Four people to pack up four years worth of accumulated items. I was only halfway through the boxes in the basement and running out of time. I started grabbing any box labelled “crafts” and upending it into black trash bags. Yarn and craft paper were replaceable.

I rode in the van beside my dog, Little Girl. I had to go along to keep her calm. I patted her and told her she was a good dog. The vet said that he’d keep her in the front for a few days. Maybe someone would come in and want to adopt her. He was just trying to make me feel better about having her put down. We didn’t have time to find a home for her and the shelter was too far away and we didn’t have time.

We couldn’t fit the computer desk in the U-Haul and it was too heavy for us to lift anyway. Dad had built it out of solid doors he’d picked up somewhere when I was six or seven. I used to hang off the side of it and swing my legs. He’d had to round down the corner edges because I kept falling and clunking myself. The desk had followed us everywhere we moved, from Texas to Indiana to Oklahoma to Arkansas—our only constant piece of furniture. We left it in the kitchen.

I’d always wanted to have the kind of home where friends dropped by all the time and felt comfortable just walking in the front door without knocking because, well, we’d grown up together after all. I called one of the best friends I’ve ever had the morning we packed the trailer. “We’re moving to Indiana today.” I didn’t see her again until eight years later when we stopped at a Waffle House in Little Rock on the way to Texas. Aside from a fluke meet-up with another friend in Seattle, I haven’t seen the rest of my friends in fifteen years.

I took a break from loading the trailer and walked next door to the empty church that had been just as much my home as the parsonage had been. I stood in front of the altar, placed my elbows on it, and clasped my hands. Tears hit the lace cover as I prayed for some last minute miracle—the last prayer I would whisper for eleven years.

I drove the van out of town, following behind my parents in the U-Haul. I was irritated. Dad was driving too fast. I wanted to cruise through town slowly; get one last good look at the only place out of all the places that had been home. I didn’t have a choice, so I kept driving.

These three remain: Faith, Hope, and Love.

I thought Paul was a liar that day. I had left them all.

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