Lingering place trauma

It was what feels like a lifetime ago, but I still have some lingering trauma left over from my teenage years when my mom married my stepdad. I know she didn’t mean to do any harm and was in fact trying to do something positive for herself and her kids.

She moved me and my brothers out of the city and into the country. It wasn’t cross-country or anything, but it was still far enough away to lose all of my existing friends and to feel very isolated. We were also unable to walk anywhere given the location. Basically the middle of nowhere. Tough on a city kid who was used to running around the neighborhood everyday until the street lights came on.

I was also bullied for being quiet and different back then. And looking back, it’s pretty obvious that a lot of that had to do with politics that I was too young to fully understand. Even looking at my report cards, I definitely think I was treated differently coming from a more liberal family. I even remember our physical sciences teacher telling us that radio carbon dating was a hoax and that God put dinosaur bones in the ground to trick us, but the world was much younger. Imagine having such a twisted worldview and proselytizing about it to children.

My wife didn’t fully get it until she visited my parents with me this past year. She used to roll her eyes at me. Thought I was being dramatic. But she could barely handle being there a week before she went crazy. I woke up one morning to her walking up and down my parents’ 200 meter driveway with the baby because the road is a county collector, too busy with with fast cars coming and going between cities. Lots of blind curves and no sidewalks. Besides, nowhere in which to walk.

Don’t get me wrong. I like being outdoors and visiting rural areas. I even daydream sometimes about having more space, especially since the houses are larger and more affordable the farther you go out. But I don’t think I could ever do it permanently, especially to my kids.

Now that I live in a larger metro area, the conveniences are many, but more than anything I think it’s about being surrounded by people with similar values. There’s a lot of diversity in our area, education is important, and there are good jobs and opportunity. Say what you will about how the right and left should talk more, try to understand one another, but I had a really hard time with oppressive rural attitudes and I would die inside if my kids ever had to live through anything similar.

Life of Bryan © Bryan R., 2024