It was some day before Christmas. The previous day, the blinds of the balcony door had come down completely – I think it was my fault,- so my dad and I were fixing them together. I don’t remember how the conversation went exactly, but I do know what my exact words were – I’ve translated them to your benefit, but we were obviously speaking in Catalan -:
“If you must know,” I said with a nonchalant tone, “I’m thinking about going abroad again.”
To me, it was a big deal, not the telling my father, but the sole fact of thinking about leaving home while my sister was still so young. I don’t think at that moment he realized how serious I was, though, or that I was actually talking about leaving indefinitely, but I didn’t stop to think about it when he replied:
“Of course,” he said, “if you want to leave, you can do it.”
We would have a longer talk about my plans a few weeks later – one involving money to safe, money to spend and if he could afford me and my income gone,- but I took those words as his approval to start planning.
I was turning 25 and none of the things I had planned for myself had happened, not even the ones I hadn’t planned but wished for. I hadn’t fallen in love, I hadn’t travelled much, I hadn’t found a fair-paying job… I even had barely written anything that wasn’t fanfiction for the past few years when becoming a writer was the one thing – IS the one thing -, that has always been part of my plan since I have recollection.
Worst of all, I realized – yes, I’m apparently that stupid, or that blind – that when my sister would turn 18 I would be 31. Thirty-one! I couldn’t lose any more time on a plan that was so obviously doomed; I couldn’t keep putting my dreams on hold; I couldn’t wait until my thirties to start my life.
I gave myself a deadline. One year. I couldn’t still be home when I turned 26. It didn’t have to necessarily be in November, it could be earlier, it could even be in January, a month after my birthday, but it couldn’t be much later than that or else I would never do it and I would be stuck in my little home town, in my cage-like old room, with my crazy imperfect family, forever.
The problem was that by leaving I’d be betraying the silent promise I made myself when my parents divorced for the second time, of staying with my sister – and my dad – until she was old enough. But, what is exactly ‘old enough’? 18? 16? Definitely not 12, or else I wouldn’t feel as guilty as if I was abandoning my own baby at the mercy of the elements.
To be fair, thought, my sister would be 13 by the time I left, the same age I was when she was born, so if I had been old enough to take care of a baby, she could be old enough to take care of herself. Also, my father had been going out with a really nice woman from Barcelona for a few months. He even talked about what would happen if she moved in, so maybe I wouldn’t be leaving them alone. It all seemed to work out, it was – it is – the perfect time to leave.
At what age did you leave home or planning to?