On Going Home

It is never quite the same again.

Time is short, make the most of it becomes the motto.

Depart from what is called Grand and Watts. Depart alone, with a too heavy bag. Depart early; the bag may contain some dirty laundry. It may contain a month’s worth of dirty laundry.

You call yourself an adult. To your parents you are still a child. In reality, you fall somewhere between the two.

Bus rides are inadequate leg space, rolling landscapes, air that is at once hot and cold. Catch up on reading. That is, until you discover the phone charger. Bus rides are good excuses to nap during the day. Remember those days?

Arrive at the station. Let’s call it Union. It is always a variation of Union, the point at which all lines intersect, or, the central point of the U on the subway map.

Pass by stores in which chocolate is a delicacy and multi-way demi-cup push-up t-shirt bras are at your disposal, lest you need a bra after traveling across the country, or from four hours away.

Here you are never alone; a smiling parent is always ready to receive you, or is on the way but stuck in traffic. The smiling parent is key to all of this. Two smiling parents is on a level of Brady Bunch-like normalcy. One smiling parent is good enough.

Small talk is imminent, as is the insistence that you take the passenger seat. The passenger seat is a buffer.

Change stations in an attempt to fill the silence that is the slightest bit uncomfortable. Settle for NPR and then settle for nothing at all.

Arrive home. You will not be allowed to carry your bag from the car to the front door.

There is always something new in the house every time you return. Two chairs, a languid plant. The house is immaculate. You will wonder when the gets are due to arrive, before you realize: you are the guest.

No housework for you.

Lay down on the sofa. Put your feet up, reluctantly. Watch television, as you have been instructed to do. Do this for hours at a stretch as your meals are prepared for and served to you. Feel paralyzed. Feel like an anomaly.

This is all foreign to you.

Watch The Kardashians. There is so much of the Kardashians to watch. Cry with Khloe. Experience Rob’s weight gain with him.

All conversations with your father a monosyllabic; there are not enough words for what your mother has to tell you. She is fourteen again, a gossiping teen. No, she is just lonely.

She is very lonely, as you have been too. You look just like your mother, and share her isolation as well.

Overcompensate. Bite your tongue. Do not express anger or irritation. She is overcompensating, but for what? Your father misses you, he’s just not good at expressing his feelings.

Visits home are temporary regressions into childhood, adolescence and infancy.

Pick up old habits where you left them.

There are pressing matters that need to be discussed. There is no good time to talk about them. There is no good way to talk about them, and so they will not be discussed.

Feel less like an integral component of the household and more like a beloved guest.

Meals are endless, and are had three times a day, like a religion.

In a moment of tenderness, your father will comment on how thin you’ve become. Your mother will comment on how thin you’ve become, how tired and stressed you look, your face broken, dark circles around your eyes deepened, only bones.

Your jeans still fit the same. You cannot vouch for the rest. Smile weakly.

Retaliation is futile.

Nothing feels more like home than the comfort of its beds. And the surrounding stillness. And the gentle swaying of the trees in the suburban breeze. And its smells, of food and mum’s perfume.

Feel sickened by this longing and then, saddened. This feeling was supposed to be beyond the realm of your adult years, was it not?

Time is short.

Did you make the most of it?

It’s time to leave.

Waiting for the bus, you are never alone. A smiling parent waves, holding back tears, as you settle into your seat. A smiling parent looks so far away, even though the bus has yet to pull out. Once the bus has left the station, a smiling parent will remain there, looking at the space at where the bus once stood, and then, at the space at where you once stood.

Bus rides are inadequate leg space, rolling landscapes, air that is at once hot and cold. Catch up on reading. That is, until you discover the phone charger. Bus rides are good excuses to nap during the day. Remember those days?

Arrive to no one.

It’s a long walk down Canal Street, but it’s a beautiful day, bitterly cold and brightly illuminated in the mid-day sun. This is the definition of New York City.

Take a deep breath as the train rolls over the Williamsburg Bridge. You relish every second of this ritual, of every motion forward. It is the one thing you have come to love unconditionally about the city. It is the one thing you miss most when you are gone. It is the one thing you will miss the most.

May that day never come.

Walk three flights up the pungent staircase to the top floor.

Arrive home. There is nothing new, except for two notices to pay your internet bill.

Nothing feels more like home than the comfort of its beds. And the surrounding stillness. And the gentle swaying of the trees in the mid-day breeze. And its smells, of food and the closest thing you could find to mum’s perfume. Lay in bed, but only for a few minutes.

There is a bathroom to be cleaned, half of a dinner to be cooked, bills to be ignored and a day to go on with.

This is home now. TC mark

image – GS+

More From Thought Catalog

blog comments powered by Disqus