Year One: I am standing with my mother by the water in Washington. I laugh as a duck takes off.
Year Two: I kick my sister off the bed when my mother turns her back. Her nose bleeds and I go to bed early.
Year Three: We lay in the bed. My father throws a green ball towards the ceiling of our trailer and makes promises I am still young enough to believe in.
Year Four: We are running through the sprinklers in our new house, tongue sticky-sweet with cherry popsicle. I step on a bee and my foot swells to twice its original size.
Year Five: I start kindergarten and my father is hundreds of miles away. I cry on the phone.
Year Six: I cry leaving. I cry coming home. I just want to stay somewhere.
Year Seven: I can't make friends in this town, but my teacher is nice and lets me stay inside to read. She is sad to hear we are moving again.
Year Eight: I am tired. We get up every night to drive into town. Dad is drunk and he scares my sister when he makes a scene outside the bar. The new teacher in the new school lets me sleep in her room during reading time.
Year Nine: Dad dies and everyone else leaves. We eat Quicktrip for a Christmas breakfast and sleep in the same bed. The hours blur together into days and no one comes by for the Holidays.
Year Ten: A boy asks me out on a dare. My body still feels like a joke.
Year Eleven: My Parents get married, and suddenly there is more to our little family again. He and I drink Mountain dew and play monopoly and learn how to trust each other.
Year Twelve: I call him Dad and it doesn't stick in my throat like I thought it would.
Year Thirteen: We escape to somewhere that rains, with cherry trees and peaches and mountains and oceans that make us feel so small. We start over.
Year Fourteen: I make friends, finally. I believe we will not leave. I fall in love, I find a home. We leave.
Year Fifteen: We start over again. This is the last time. I find a way to belong to another place. I fall out of love and back in it but he is hundreds of miles away and the last time he fell out of love with me he fell in love with someone else.
Year 16: I sit at Starbucks with my closest friends. We laugh until we cry, and help each other with homework. We are all healing, all learning. We break things and fix them into something else so often I've forgotten what we began as. But we love each other. My family is at home. Later, we will sit together for dinner. The baby will coo and wave, unaware of the journey that brought us here.I kiss my mother and father goodnight and head to a bed that has been mine for 3 years.
Finally, peace. Finally, home.