Back to School
Going back to school after our Italian adventure felt like a punishment; I was suddenly chained to my MSN because for the time being that was where Colin lived, in my computer.
The late night conversations with Colin covered up the pain of living with my emotionally and physically abusive father. For months leading up to my trip Italy had been the light at the end of the tunnel but since coming back Colin had become the light. He made every day brighter and I couldn’t bring myself to focus on anything other than him; prom, graduation, finally getting the hell out of Kingston and moving on to college.
Until one day when Colin and I were chatting and the subject of my father came up; I went on and on about how awful things were at home and how desperately I wanted to leave.
Two years earlier my father had tried to kill himself; we were standing in the kitchen fighting about something it could have been the phone or the internet I can’t remember what started the fight exactly, what made him hate me so much. But his solution was to swallow an entire bottle of antidepressants after he told me, “You’re the reason I’m doing this.” The fights, the abuse and the violence got worse from there until he was gone; he left my brother, mum and I the summer before I went to Italy and it was the safest I’d felt in years but it was short lived. That fall my mother told us that she had cancer and she was starting treatment in a week; when my father found out his guilt brought him back but it was mum’s fear that let him stay. I think she was afraid of leaving us alone, she was afraid of the treatments and being sick too but it was the fear of leaving her two teenage children with no one to take care of them that really scared her.
When Colin heard everything, from the suicide attempt to the hockey stick shaped holes in my walls to the insults we made the decision any teenage couple would- we decided to move in together. The day after graduation I would get on a bus headed straight for Northern Ontario and we would be together.
My mum was in remission at that point and I felt like I could leave her to be honest I worried that I would last another summer at home. Every time I came home and I saw his car in the driveway it was like walking into a nightmare; would he be the daddy I had grown up with the baseball loving man who loved his little girl or would he be the monster I’d come to know from the time I turned 13? Would he call me a baby whale again? Would he drive me deeper into the eating disorder I was hiding miserably from my friends? Would he come at me with a hockey stick? Would he tell me I was stupid? Would he kick me or hit me? Every time I saw that car all the terrible possibilities ran through my head, all I could really hope was that he’d sunk into a sleep-filled depression again and he was fast asleep in bed where he was harmless unless the TV or radio was turned up too loud.
The plan Colin and I came up with was beautifully simple; I had a job at a the Bootlegger in Kingston and there was a Bootlegger I could transfer to in Thunder Bay, he lived an hour and a half from Thunder in Rossport. I would leave on a bus the day after graduation at 6AM and I would get to him at 7AM on the 30th of June, his birthday and the day before Canada Day. I would stay with him for 4 days and then move to his brother’s basement apartment in Thunder Bay, we’d see each other every weekend.
But three months of long distance is a hard concept to grasp for two young lovers and when he messaged me saying, “Darlin, I’ve got a surprise for you. I’m going to be in Windsor competing at OFSAA at the beginning of June. Think you could find a way to get to me?” I immediately messaged my best friend asking her to drive me to Windsor. We told my mum that we were going to Toronto to find me a prom dress and after a LOT of pleading she agreed to let me go. I hadn’t quite told her about Colin yet and I certainly hadn’t told her about my plan to move out the day after graduation, so the Windsor story was definitely not going to fly with her.