Home is insidious. It sneaks up on you in ways you don’t expect, becoming a part of you even if you never asked for it. I don’t like it. I don’t like feeling attached to things, and I don’t like it when things happen without my consent. Nobody does.
I didn’t want to live in that place. I didn’t even want to live with her, but life has a way of thrusting things on you that you don’t want. At least, my life does. My parents died. I didn’t want that. Our house burned down. I didn’t want that, either. I didn’t want the job that I took, to keep living after, but I took it because I needed it. I didn’t want her help in getting through, but she ended up giving it anyway.
I’m not the kind of guy that talks about stuff often. I like to keep private. I can’t say I told her much, over the years, but I think she figured out a lot of it for herself. She’s a smart girl. I don’t blame her for it, but I don’t love her for it either. Well. Maybe I do.
I feel like I love her a bit. Not like I want to be with her, romantically. That’s not my thing. I don’t feel that way about anyone. Maybe like a sister, though. I care about her, despite myself. It just happens, I think, when you spend long years with someone, even if you were determined not to like them in the beginning. The time you spend with someone infects you with them, and you realize that you’ve begun to care about them, even when you don’t want to.
Well, I got a job. A new job, I should say, so I’m leaving this job and this apartment and her.
I don’t know how, but they all became my home. A place can be a home, even an apartment that you never really liked because it was too small and you hated the sound of the baby crying next door which never went away because they just kept having kids. A job can be a home because you get comfortable with it, even if you never love it or even like it; the routine becomes a part of your life, and anything that’s a part of your life is a part of you.
A person can be a home. I think most people have felt that, but maybe it’s just me. I didn’t think about it before my parents died, but my house wasn’t my home because of the wood or the carpet. It was home because of them. My apartment wasn’t my home because I loved the white walls or the grey-brown carpet, but because it was a space we shared.
The thing is, I didn’t realize any of this in the moment. It was just a place I lived; it was just a job I worked; she was just a person I ate dinner with, when we were both home. Just someone I joked with the pass the time. But when it came time for it to end, I realized I’d tangled myself up into all three of them, and when the day came to tear away, it hurt.
I don’t cry. A lot of people say that but for me it’s true. I cried when my parents died, okay, but I gave all my tears to them. Until the day I left, and all my things were packed up and ready to go, and I realized — it hurt. It hurt to pull away, because my insidious home had worked its way up inside me and woven its threads into the tapestry of myself and leaving that place and that person felt like I was leaving a part of myself behind. So I cried.
I didn’t let her see it. I didn’t want her to know what she meant to me, for whatever reason. In a way I didn’t want it to be true. I’d been annoyed with her so often, and I’d hated that apartment and that job so much, that I didn’t want anything related to them to mean something to me. So when I left, and I tore everything free of me, I sat in my car and cried to myself. Full-on sobbing.
The whole time I berated myself for it. You know. Why are you doing this? Why do you car? It didn’t matter what I said, though. The tears just kept on coming. I couldn’t even drive until it stopped, and even then I had to pull over to clear my eyes again once I’d already been on the road for a while.
I don’t want to say that I miss that place, but I miss it like it was home. I never called it that, over the years. I avoided it purposefully. Seven years. For seven years, I would say “I’m going back to the apartment” or “Want to come over to my place?” Never “I’m going home.” But somehow, somehow, it worked its way in and it became my home anyway. Insidious.