Here’s to never going back

A few years ago I thought to look up my last Connecticut address in Google Street View, but evidently that barren section of Waterbury had yet to be surveyed by the fellows at Google.

At the time, I thought, It’s just as well. Why would I want to see it?

But today as I was driving to work I was struck again with the random urge to find my old home. And I typed in my address, and there it was, which I share with you now.


Mine was the one marked 95.

When I lived there in the early 80’s, things were much tidier. The elderly German lady who lived in the unit to the right swept her porch and steps every day. The Italian lady several doors down served as my surrogate grandmother and fashioned a pergola in a backyard where she could grow grapes for her homemade wine. A city councilman lived several doors up.

The porches in my day were in fairly good repair, and our meager front yard was covered in landscaper’s wood chips with a few newly-planted shrubs. Clearly the subsequent owners found the wood chips to be far more maintanence than they bargained for.

Yes, things were much more tidy, but that tidieness belied the sad and lonely existance that I lived behind those walls. An existance that included a bullying step-father, a complicit mother, and my will, feelings, wishes, and hopes disregarded in a daily basis.

For four years I existed in this way, until one sunny day in November of 1985, when, following a last skirmish with my step-father, I waited for him to leave for work, and then I packed a suitcase. A cab picked me up at the door and took me to my bank, where I emptied my savings account, and then on the bus station, where I purchased my tickets to Florida. I rode all day and most of the night, until our bus stopped in Washington, D.C. and a police office boarded, looked around, and spotted me.

After confirming my identity, he cuffed me and delivered me to a juvenile detention center, where I spent one week among teenaged prostitutes and other various criminals – who were all rather nice to me, actually – before I was spirited back to Connecticut to spend a month in foster care.

Finally, my mother agreed to surrendering custody of me to my father, and in January, I boarded a plane to Florida. Which was where I was going in the first place.

Over time – years and years, really – I reconciled with my mother and learned to tolerate my step-father. It was a process. Many times over the years I returned to visit my home state, but as luck would have it, I never returned to that brownstone, not once. On that day in November of my thirteenth year, I made the gutsiest move I had ever made in my life by walking out that door and into my future, and that place has been disappearing into my rearview ever since.


About Joyce

40-year-old university advisor, 10-years married with two small children, trying to do it all and have it all and still manage the occasional social interaction through the wonderful world of blogging.
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21 Responses to Here’s to never going back

  1. You certainly are a woman of action! You sound at peace with the whole situation. It must have been very difficult.

  2. I am gad you were able to do something about the life you were given.

  3. what a brave, brave girl. Do you find you are still this same brave girl? I’m just wondering because I found that when I was a young girl I was far more brave than I am today. I’m working on that part. In fact I keep encouraging my daugher to never lose her childlike wonder but to also keep her braveness. What an intersting story you share. I love how our history helps shape who we are today in some ways.

    • Joyce says:

      That is a very good question. In retrospect, it was a brave move. Brave, and resolute. And I think that resolute is what best describes me. Being resolute has enabled me to accomplish a lot, because I just keep going and don’t know how to stop. Like college – I worked on my degree for six years while working, sometimes two jobs. But I never considered stopping.

      At this time in my life I am not trying to accomplish anything other than maintain balance and enjoy precious moments with my family. Some day, when they don’t need me so much, I would like to work on a Master’s degree. Then we will see how my resolve has stood up 🙂

  4. Wow! You have alluded to tough times before but you never went into depth. I admire the courage you showed in walking out as a 13-year-old and am sorry the situation presented itself and you had a need to get away.
    I wonder why it is on your mind lately. You noted you already have had some sense of closure. Maybe, more is needed.

    • Joyce says:

      It’s never far from me because it’s part of who I am. I don’t mean for it to be a sad tale. Yes, it was hard, and even after I moved to Florida, which I had wanted to do for a long time, I had a difficult period of adjustment. BUT, I did adjust, made many friends, and flourished. Idle curiosity drove me to look up the address. I hadn’t laid eyes on it since I walked away in 1985.

  5. I’m so proud of you for sharing this! I’m sorry I didn’t read this sooner. I’ve been preoccupied with tons of other stuff (I might e-mail you later). What a stamp in your history but so good to know you moved past it and that’s what it is all about. Thank you for your courage!

    • Joyce says:

      Yes, email me & let me know how you are!

      Thanks – I don’t normally go quite so personal, but I haven’t shared this story in a long time and thought it was worth sharing.

  6. st sahm says:

    You are so lovely inside and out.

  7. Luanne says:

    Fascinating story! You took your live into your own hands at a very young age.

    • Joyce says:

      Thank you…my greatest fear that day was failing and ending up back home to face the wrath. I’m glad I took a chance anyway. It was completely out of character for me to do something so rebelious.

  8. Valerie says:

    It’s funny (not haha) how we do things that, in retrospect, seem gutsy and brave, but just seem necessary at the time. I moved out of my parents house one afternoon about a month after I turned 18. They didn’t know until they found all my stuff gone when they got home. *I* didn’t know until I had started packing and then calling my boyfriend (now-husband) to please pick me up.
    I was not in an abusive family situation, but there was a gambling addiction, lying, and stealing going on, and I had been through enough at that point. :/
    It was over the course of maybe a year that we all felt comfortable talking again with each other. I never moved back; I finished school (all A’s, thank you!), worked full-time, and got married.
    I’m sorry about what you went through, Joyce. It must have taken a lot for you to leave the way that you did at such a young age. I knew you had that kind of strength in you already. I can just tell. 😉

  9. Joyce says:

    Aw, thank you Valerie! It’s funny, you never know how someone else’s circumstance may have been similar to our own. Often, I will look at someone who seems to live a very clean and peaceful life, and think that they must have had a very proper home life growing up. But the older I get, the more I realize that few of us ever did, and that what we have, we have built for ourselves. It truly is a choice, overcoming your circumstances and building the life that you want, and making things different for your own children.

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