A word that can be used as a noun, an adjective, in describing a sanctuary or somewhere that one desperately tries to escape. Within the walls are memories that run deep — crippling anxiety, awkward firsts, initial heartbreak, and smiles.
The smell of that corner chair, the taste of tea from that overpriced and slightly ugly Mother’s Day mug; the theme tune to that evening soap that used to remind your parents it was past your bedtime; routine that used to feel so robotic now seems refreshingly relaxing.
I first tried to escape at 17 – loading my last bag into the car, preparing for my college journey across the country. I was free – to roam, to make my own choices, and abide by my own rules. Independent, young, and drinking something a little stiffer in my new mug.
Graduation loomed and with that so did adulthood. I wasn’t ready, I still had so much roaming to do. What are my options? Go home and save? Save for what?
I made my second escape at the age of 21, a week after my graduation. With the lifting of my cap came the shattering of that glass ceiling and I left for Manhattan, leaving my parents to pick the shards that remained.
The thrill of the rollercoaster to stability was all I could imagine and more. I became stronger, brazen even. One day I smiled because I started to dislike Times Square, I was never offered an open bus tour again. My mind was in an empire state and the past was so far gone.
Home seemed further away than a six-hour flight. Immigration sent shivers down my spine and home just wasn’t for me. Everything is the same there, boring even. More consumed by what the neighbors think then their own thought process. I’ve never met my neighbors in NYC but their marriage seems rocked by late nights at the ‘office’.
Friendsgiving was amazing, no arguments regarding politics or world views. Arrive hungover, late or not at all – it’s cool. The mashed potatoes weren’t the same as my mom’s but the to-go boxes were easier to clean away.
Burning the candle at both ends was tough. Two jobs and a buzzing social scene, is there any wonder I substituted the tea for coffee?
Tipsy cab rides home were my favorite reminder. The skyline, the view, the ringing in my ear that still remained. This was the time I had to reflect – if I turned the window down I could feel the breeze on my rose-tinted cheeks. The pain in my feet would linger though – Thursdays I picked up an extra shift when I finished the office.
I found this new deli up the street that imported items from home. Biscuits, crisps, and strong tea bags. I started to miss the food from home. I bought the teabags – it wasn’t the same without the ugly mug though. I must ask mom does she still have it?
A global pandemic they say – shelter in place. Stop the spread, protect your loved ones. Spend this time learning news skills, appreciating the little things in life, and re-cooperating. Learn the value of hugs again, physical touch, fresh air, open spaces, and breathing deeply as a family. Utilize this time, wisely.
I reluctantly made my third escape at the age of 26, back home until the storm passes.
It may be temporary but you know what they? Third time is a charm.