The Christmas of 1985 I was in the third grade and my parents had been divorced for three years. My father had called on Christmas Eve to say he would bring my presents by on Christmas Day. After opening my presents from Santa I went and put on my favorite dress and sat in front of the door, only getting up to go to the bathroom. I heard everyone else playing with new toys; I only wanted to wait for him. As evening got closer my mother, who had painfully let me sit waiting for him, tried to distract me from my watch. I refused to move. While everyone was sitting down for dinner I saw my father’s car turn the corner. He circled the cul de sac and pulled in front of the house. He took presents out of his car, walked up to the door and sat them down. Without saying a word he turned back towards his car, got in and drove away. I still remember feeling the coolness of the glass on my forehead mixing with the warmth of my tears. He went into rehab three weeks later and married his therapist.
Freshman year of college he sat next to me in Intro to Philosophy. We went for coffee one night and didn’t stop seeing each other for months. In January he started doing heroin again but I didn’t know. In March I tried to leave him but he said he would kill me. In May, he threw a chair at me from across the room, the wood splintering against the wall. I wasn’t me at 19 anymore; I was me at 3, seeing my father do the same thing to my mother. My shoes were on and I was out the door, sprinting faster than I had in my life. I hid behind cars and buildings as I heard him yelling after me. I ran to a place where I knew a light would be on. The door was locked. I don’t run anymore.
My meeting had run over and I was the last person to get to the bar. Trivia had become a mindless pleasure that first year of grad school. The only chair left was next to a guy I had met a few times, but wouldn’t have known if I saw him walking down the street. I ordered my beer, an excellent choice he said. I asked what he did; he asked me if I knew who Atticus Finch was. I told him I worked at a church; he asked if I was in charge of the nursery. We sipped our beer. Someone asked me something and I leaned over him to hear them better. His hand was on the small of my back, steadying me. I was home. The game broke up and everyone started to their cars. He walked me to mine and I drove him over to his. As he closed the door, he stuck his head in the rolled down window. With his charming smile he said, I guess I will see you around.