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When I was young, the first house I remember living in had a single big tree in the driveway. We had a long driveway leading up to our little trailer home, and you passed by that big tree right before you parked. When I was four, a tornado hit late one night and tore up that tree from its roots, almost like it had never even been there. Little did I know at the time, but this was foreshadowing for how I would never form roots in one place.


Purple was my favorite color at that age, and so it was the color my mom painted my bedroom. The color was my signature. Every time I wrote my name it was in that color. I had a stuffed purple hippopotamus that I could not sleep without, and it even was the color of the cast on my arm as I started kindergarten. Purple was my favorite color before I knew it was the hue produced when my father laid his hands on my mother and then on me. The very first memory I can recall was of my father leaving the little trailer we called home for the babysitter. I did not understand what was going on or why, and yet despite the purple pigmentation that surrounded my mother’s eye and my own tiny body, I cried. I remember running after my dad, even as my mother screamed at me to come back. “Can I come with you?” I sobbed, grabbing onto his briefcase. “No, but I will see you soon” he replied. “What’s going to happen to us daddy? Please don’t go, please.” I begged. He did not reply, but instead removed my hand and walked to his car, leaving us and his home behind. I did not understand then why it was so easy to leave, but throughout the years I began to have a better grasp on the concept of home, and a better understanding of why it was so easy for him to leave. The night my dad left, the Texas sky was purple. I hated that color until I fixated on another color to hate, red.


Red. Red was all I saw through my bright blue eyes after my dad left. I was angry at my mom, my sister, my dad, and at the world. I was most angry with myself, though, for not doing what I could to keep our home and our family together. My picture-perfect idea of a family and my purple room was no more, all in one fell swoop. Instead, at five years old, I was walking up the stairs of a tan brick building, into a tan two-bedroom, two-bath apartment. Everything was that yellowish brown color- the walls, the carpet, the furniture. This new place that I was supposed to call home was only “temporary,” yet it did not feel temporary, nor did it feel like home. It stayed “home” however, until that October. That Halloween I dressed up as Jesse from Toy Story. I had a bright red cowboy hat on with matching red cowboy boots. As I sat on the couch in our living room and kicked the monogrammed spider Halloween bucket my mom always made me carry, I looked up excitedly when I heard a knock. It was my dad’s year for Halloween and he was taking us trick or treating in my grandparents neighborhood. “Wait here.” my mom sternly said, and I sat back down with a huff. As I began to grow antsy and banter back and forth with my younger sister, our voices began to raise. However, I began to notice our voices were not the only ones that were raising. As I peered down the hallway in that apartment, I never realized before how long it was until then. As I watched horrified, my dad and my mom’s new boyfriend got into each other’s faces, screaming. The next thing I knew, my mom was racing down the hallway and my sister was screaming. As I watched, one of them slammed the other into the wall and fists began go fly. The last thing I saw before my mom pushed me and my sister into her room and slammed the door, was red.  “Daddy’s bleeding, daddy’s bleeding!” I screamed. “He’s gonna kill him, he’s going to kill him!” my little sister wailed as we heard the beating continue outside. To this day, I still cannot say who she thought was going to kill who. That day, the color red and Halloween were put into my subconscious book of things I hated the most. And once again, I did not understand what was going on or why, but as my mom dialed 911, I already knew that we would be permanently leaving that place that we had only temporarily called home.


Blue was my favorite color in high school. Blue was the color of my room at the time; it was the color of my volleyball uniform, as well as the color of my first boyfriend’s eyes. Blue was also the color I saw every time I cried and looked in the mirror because I was lost. I had lost myself throughout the years of losing those brick and mortars I called home. I was labeled a loud girl with daddy issues and in some ways, I justified that label by saying the things most would not say and doing the things normal Christian girls should not. I did this because I knew I would never call where I was home because I would never be there long enough. Despite this, however, my first realization of what home actually is was during this time. I did not understand at the time what was happening, just that I had reconnected with an old friend as I started out at a new school for my junior year. We spent every day together and she drove me home from school. She was my only friend that was allowed to spend the night at my house and the only friend that knew me better than I knew myself. Lexy knew everything about me as well as my family. She became a part of my family, so much so that she went on vacations with us and babysat my siblings when I was not around. At the end of my junior year, I once again was transferring to another school. On my last day there I cried, not because I was having to move and leave another place, but because I was having to leave her. I had moved and left close friends before, but this time it was different. I remember her hugging me as we sat on the curb by the baseball entrance gate, and her telling me it was going to be okay. She told that I would like my new school and that we would still see each other all the time. Then she said something to me that would forever change how I look at things and people. “We are going to become distant and not be as close anymore,” I cried to my best friend. She laughed and pushed my arm off my knee and said, “Bitch, we’re practically sisters, you’ve always got a home with me.” That is when I realized that home is not a place; it’s a person. And for the first time, I understood that I did not need a house with a white picket fence and a perfect family, but rather the right kind of people that I could call home. Blue is still my favorite color to this day, and Lexy is still someone I call home.


Time and memories seem to blur together when we are young. Some things stand out to us when we recall certain ages, like winning our first trophy at age seven or getting that big Christmas present we asked for from Santa at age ten. I do have those moments that I hold close to my heart, but the one thing that overshadows those moments for me is how after I got my first soccer trophy at age seven, I moved schools and had to change teams. I was not at a school long enough to make close friends that I could show the amazing Christmas present Santa got me. I never event spent more than one Christmas in the same place until the seventh grade, but I never knew any different, so it did not bother me. I did not really question what home was until I came to college. Home has always been a complicated and uncomfortable subject for me until now. When I am asked, “Where are you from?”, I proudly say “Fort Worth, Texas!”, because it is true that I am from there. I have never lived anywhere else until I moved to college. But if there is a slight change in wording and I am asked, “Where do you live?”, I will proceed to say “Virginia” because it is where I live now. I do not go “home” to Texas much because of my family. I have found it to be healthier to call my home elsewhere. We are taught from a young age the idea of what home is. We are taught your home is what defines you and shapes you into who you are and who you will become. Not having a physical place to call home calls into question for me what home actually is, and I find my answer is quite different than most. I have never had roots anywhere until I came to Virginia, and even my roots here are quite complex. My roots are not fixed into solid ground like you would expect a tree’s roots to be, because my roots are the people around me, and they are every moving and every changing. Maybe it is because of my childhood and the daddy issues I have so easily been branded by in the past, but I find that the best kind of home is made up of those closest to me. There are several more people in my life that I now I call home, and I like to think that my roots are far deeper than those of a tree that can be torn down by a tornado.



One Response to “Roots”

  1. Paityn: You did a lovely job with this essay. You’re a very capable writer with a great deal to say. I hope you’ll keep writing.

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