Kristen LaSalvia
instagram: @lasalviia

I grew up on a lake. Geographically speaking it’s technically a pond, but the word doesn’t seem big enough for this body of water. This “lake” was central to many of my childhood memories. A neighbor, a young girl, fell into it before anyone could notice she was slipping. Her dad had to yank her out as she was wailing, algae clinging to her to form a masterpiece??? so pathetic you couldn’t help but laugh. My brother and I used to collect the golf balls angry men lost in the lake and sell them at the club down the road. I’ve never understood golfing. And many times over we’ve attempted to catch fish, turtles and other fauna within its depths. I was once bitten on the tip of my finger by a turtle who didn’t like me groping at him. I probably covered my wound with a hello kitty bandaid. However, the lake played a more sinister role in my childhood. As a non swimmer, I had terrifying dreams of slipping into its darkness. An alligator would be lurking, waiting for me to trip in with no control over my limbs. It would be nighttime, my parents fast asleep. Before the gator could clamp down on my paralyzed body I’d thrash awake shaking. Those were the most terrifying moments of my childhood.

I never thought there would be an end to my mom’s alcoholism. Now I’m 21 staying with her in Florida, confined to my childhood home as we wait out COVID-19. Right now I don’t know when this will end either, but my mom has been sober for over a year. When I began Don’t Look Back You’re Not Going That Way, I wanted to use it as a means of understanding my mom’s sobriety and the legacy of her alcoholism for my family. We can rarely predict how things will change, but for now I’m learning to navigate my life within walls where I once felt an overwhelming sense of anxiety. Now it serves as an oasis that I share with someone who I have forgiven and in ways has become the mother figure I’ve always longed to have.