I sit in the recliner in my parents’ bedroom watching the leaves of the magnolia tree outside as they shiver in the breeze. The sun has set and the marine layer has rolled in from the ocean, turning the sky gray and damp. In a few minutes, I’ll run out of light to write, but I want to stay in this moment as long as I can.
Here, alone but surrounded by the familiar markers of home—my parents’ faded comforter, herbal tea from a chipped mug—I feel safe and embraced. This scenery hasn’t changed since my family moved into this house ten years ago, though I moved out long ago. I sat here at seventeen after my first major breakup, at twenty-two when I moved back in after college. Being here reminds me that, if only in some small, metaphoric sense, you can always go home again.
If this all sounds suspiciously like a pep talk to myself, that’s because it is. I sit here, in my parents’ house where my two younger brothers still live, trying to remind myself that nothing is forever: work slip-ups and grad school stress in particular this time. My boss may send a scolding email, I may fall short of finishing an assignment, but if I’m lucky I’ll take a deep breath and think, “Remember who loves you.”
I don’t remember where I heard this phrase used like a mantra for the first time, but it resonated with me immediately. It perfectly encapsulates that feeling I have when I come home to my boyfriend after a class has left me feeling particularly vulnerable (even if he’s playing video game and wonders why I’m hugging him so hard). Or when existential doubt falls away in favor of the clutter and mundane dramas of my family. Or when a friend says that kind, perceptive thing and I think, “You get it.” You get me. And so I must not be as incomprehensible or alien or horrible as I’d begun to fear.
In one day, we’re presented with countless opportunities to feel bad about ourselves or to feel awkward in our skin: caustic coworkers, professional rejection, that stranger who glares at us as we walk down the street for absolutely no reason at all. Isolated, these moments seem to indicate that there’s something deeply wrong with us.
But remember who loves you and you bring some much-needed context to it all. Remember who loves you and all the secondary, superficial worries of life begin to recede, if only for a stolen moment.