Please read “About this project and the Author” for more information on my project. In this excerpt taken from the real part of my story, Daryl talks about being home at once.
“…While the shock of switching families so abruptly will last awhile, I don’t really have a choice to go on and march through it with my head held as high as possible. And so I get to meet the rest of my family at my new grandparents’ home which is within walking distance from our house.
My new family is a large, young and close knit family. The kind that doesn’t need an excuse to arrange for a get together and have a great time. My grandparents, disarming in their simplicity, are just as warm as their home. They have passed on their kindness and welcoming hearts to their children who are now in the process of passing it on to their own. Setting foot in Papi and Mamie’s house as we call it, is nothing short of a cleansing experience that washes away all that is artificial, all that is untrue from one’s personality, leaving only what matters. If that feeling is the only fortune they leave as their inheritance, when the moment comes, I’ll make sure to lawyer up to get my greedy hands on as much of it as I can.
I am lucky enough to once again have great parents. I have a beautiful home, an extended family as warm and as accepting as anyone could possibly hope for. I know that because during the countless conversations Allan and I whispered between ourselves at the orphanage about what we thought a family should be or what kind of family we wished for each other, none of what we talked about was remotely as good as what I have in my life right now. I am, thanks to my previous experiences, also more aware than ever of what I need to do to make it mine.
But the transfer from one family to another with no time to recover in-between was too brutal, for a lack of a better word, and I am so confused after this change of life, I’m struggling to rise and reach for it.
The regrets I feel whenever I think my recent failure with Gerard and Grace, and I think about it often, added to the shame I have accumulated through my stay with the D family as well as through what I have come to see as my failings with the other families, are pressing hard on my inside. I am now convinced that each time I was given an opportunity to make a family happen for myself so far, it was I who failed to please and convince those who gave that chance. In essence, I am all that remains from my own past and so it is my fault if there is no one left from it and on whom to lay the blame. In a matter of a few days after becoming a member of a sixth family in a period of four years, my ten year old mind has found the answer to “why me?” I have now taken to bringing myself down by calling myself names, with “no good” and “stupid” as the most common ones. In my mind, the only possible answer to “why me” is “because I must deserve it.” Most kids run around all day without wondering about tomorrow but while having dreams of becoming something years down the road, when they grow up. I just want to sit still and I have no dreams for the distant future. As for my tomorrow, I just want to stop being so tired emotionally.
All of this is happening inside of me with no signs of it on the outside, except for the occasional long period of silence. I keep hidden that ugly stuff and I try as hard as I can to be as good and to make myself as likable as possible. I am so conscious of my every move, so afraid of doing something wrong, I sit in the living room of my new home and do as little as possible thinking to myself that if I do nothing, then I can’t do anything wrong.
Despite all I have, and I do have a lot, there is nothing I can see or feel in my immediate surroundings or future to convince me to come out of my shell, to begin to trust the adults around me and start to fully live as a member of the family. I remain in some sort of emotional limbo while doing everything I can to be as quiet as possible and be on the lookout at every turn to stay out of trouble. Something big, something out of the ordinary, is going to have to happen to shake me out of this torpor.
Considering the intensity of the drama that has surrounded me these last four years, thinking of the many life altering changes and the countless moments filled with extreme emotions, it is only fitting that all it takes to convince me to let go of my grip is something as simple as a short sentence. I hear the few words that will change my entire outlook on life one evening during dinner.
I don’t know how this conversation with my parents turned all of a sudden to all of the families I had been with in the previous years, but it did and in the process I must have said something that reveals my fears and prompts my mother to say the magic words as she looks at me in the eyes.
“We’re keeping you, no matter what.”
When I first moved in with my new family, I became Daryl H. but the moment I hear those words, is the exact moment I become Daryl Heart and a tremendous weight is lifted from my shoulders. I feel confident enough to make new friends and after a wonderful first summer, with the new school year in full swing, I complete my integration not only with my family but also in the community.
As for that smell I couldn’t describe when I had first visited my family’s house, the pleasant fragrance that intrigued me at the time, was the one of comfort. My senses were trying to speak to me and tell me I was home at once…”
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This project is entirely written on an iPad.
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