The Silent Yes

I grew up in a family where yes was said too often. Sometimes the yes was silent, but it was still yes. Always yes.

Up the hill, the Janes and Jills lived in brick houses, had two parents and multiple cars that waited patiently inside ample garages. In my house, there were two parents and four girls and two boys—in the beginning. By the time I was eight, this had been whittled down to one parent and two girls. To this day, I sometimes think that if I stand still long enough, everyone around me will melt and disappear. They will blow away like dust on the brittle wind and I will wonder if they ever truly existed.

Alcohol ran like a raging river beside my house. Both of my parents grabbed buckets and ran down to its rocky banks, where they freely drank. Sometimes they stumbled home together. Not always.

This was all normal to me. Not good, but normal. It wasn’t until I walked into someone else’s house, one of those brick everything-is-perfect-here varieties, that I felt the dirt beneath my fingernails. Fortunately, all my friends lived in wooden houses. All their parents had secret maps that led them to the river, and they all took turns drenching themselves.

Some people have fragrant memories of family vacations and birthday parties. For me, my childhood comes rushing back in a stomach twisting lurch whenever I walk past the open door of a tavern.

Somewhere along the way, at a very early age, I became an artist. It may have been my path of escape. It may have been a means of expression. I don’t know. For me it was as important as breathing. It was survival. Drawing, painting and writing were the fingerprints I left on the world; they were the way I touched, felt and comprehended everything. Reading was the vehicle that transported me to another world, a safe land where all the bad things happened to someone else. My art was the thing that allowed me to stay human, that gave me the ability to feel when I should have been numb. It was what gave me hope and it was the thread that led to my future.

When my friends dropped out of school and went to work in one of the many soul-eating factories, I clenched my teeth and said, “Not me.”

I wish I would have had more as a teenager—we all long for more, it’s part of our nature—I wish I could have known God intimately. I wish I could have ridden the waves of adolescence with Him.

But that wasn’t what happened. I didn’t meet Him until later. Much later

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