Brandon Trammell




Gillian Welch:
Hard Times


Growing up my family never stayed in one place for more than a year. For the most part we stuck to Flint and the surrounding areas that would take us, save a stint in the sad beauty of southeast Missouri. But every year like clockwork we were looking for a new place. It was like a dance; rent here, rent there, round up family to help us move to the next spot. All those friends I piecemealed together like a buffet, then they're gone with the slam of a shitty pickup tailgate. Sometimes we were lucky and got an apartment with a community pool. Usually it was a tiny shithole that barely fit all of us (five, then four, then five again, finally six.) House, trailer, apartment; I always knew it would last for a year until we had to find a new place.

Don't get me wrong, I learned a lot. Spent a lot of time seeing things that helped me find who I didn't want to be. I learned how to avoid trouble, and how to fade into the background. I learned how to do the bare minimum to get by so I could leave my brother and sisters to watch themselves while I rode my skateboard all over Fenton Road. And to bury my mind in comic books, art, and eventually Punk Rock. I learned how to pretend that everything was fine when it wasn't. I became very good at these things.

When people ask I tell them I'm from Flint, but living in the burbs for the past five years has softened me. I don't feel like I belong here, but I don't really have anywhere that feels like where I'm from. All those places we lived. What does it add up to? Am I home? Do I even know what that means?

I'm scared that no place will ever feel like mine.

But I'm betting that setting up stakes here will keep my kids from ever feeling that helplessness that I felt every time we turned the key to a new place and started from scratch.

My home is little voices singing musicals while I try to work from the other room. It's late nights watching horror movies, and day trips to Ann Arbor for records and Korean street food. My home is road trips, school plays, and out of state weddings. It's cleaning up dog puke and making shepard's pie for the 500th time, and driving on bald tires half the winter so the heat stays on.

Fuck where I'm from. I don't need it.

I'm here. Right now. With the people that matter. And that's enough.