My brother picks me up from the airport in the car that I should just sell but I haven’t yet. A year has passed since I moved and it continues to live there even though I do not, along with cumbersome pieces of furniture that aren’t worth shipping but I can’t bring myself to get rid of. There are boxes filled with chipped dishware and expensive Calphalon pots. Closets hold countless articles of clothing I would never be caught dead in. My mom’s house has become a storage unit for my past lives.
It’s late and he doesn’t want to be here in the car with me because he’d rather be with his friends talking about golf, not his mounting credit card bills and the prospects of employment. I’m his older sister by sixteen months and this is inevitably the direction our conversations veer. He grips the steering wheel and his nostrils flare. He is obligated to love me.
He takes me to Whole Foods for food because I am starving. He calls me a weirdo and tells me my friends laugh at me and not with me, but I think it’s funny – probably because I am, in fact, as weird as he thinks I am. I give him ten dollars to buy questionable looking tacos from a stand on Lincoln and he eats them in the passenger seat, spilling orange rice that sticks to seams in the leather upholstery.
We stop by my dad’s and he tells me he loves me and I drive to my mom’s on the other side of the hill. I listen to Mozart, the radio cutting in and out while I wind through turns I’ve traveled since I was five years old. Coming back home is an exercise in muscle memory.
My mom’s lights are out when I arrive but I hear her say, “Goodnight, honey” like she’s been waiting up for me. I’m twenty-six and it’s still like high school. I know what pajamas she’s wearing without even seeing her. I know that in the morning her face will be puffy with sleep and her cheeks will be pink. I know that she will shuffle towards the coffee machine and try to talk to me even though she knows I hate talking to anyone for two hours after I wake up.
I take a shower to wash away the five-hour flight and remnants of New York City. My dark clothes sit on the white tile floor next to my abused winter boots with their salt stains and crumbling heels, all evidence of a life being lived. The shower is filled with none of my meticulously curated necessities. Instead, I am greeted by Costco-sized bottles of Pantene Pro-V and a Neutrogena body wash that smells and looks like perfumed tar. I get out of the shower and wrap myself in a sage-green towel that is so plush it struggles to absorb like it is supposed to.
There are bottles in my bathroom that I’ve kept since I was in elementary school: half-empty containers of Christmas-scented room spray, nail polish from Venice Beach that changes colors in the sun, Happy Daisy body lotion that reminds me of a summer in Lake Tahoe. There are bottles of perfume that I haven’t worn since high school: Happy, Polo Sport, Romance. Ck-1 should be in there but for some reason it’s not.
I put on pajamas kept in a dresser we bought from Pottery Barn ten years ago with deep drawers that are filled with excessive numbers of t-shirts from summer camps and high school sports teams. There are planners from 2001 and photographs from Homecoming dances, gifts from ex-boyfriends and socks with missing pairs.
I fall asleep curled up in a fetal position, my head covered with a blanket and my hands jammed into the front pockets of a hooded sweatshirt of a college I dropped out of. My hair is wet and it is freezing cold and no psychical article in this room is a reflection of me anymore except me. My home is not here and it has not been here for some time. My home rests on the third floor of a house in Brooklyn, above a couple from London and adjacent to a pair of cop brothers with thick accents. My home is filled with too many chairs and a cowhide rug, a TV I never use, a sofa with some cosmetic deficiencies. This is home.
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