Last night, I returned from an extended weekend trip home to Orlando, Florida. I’d been waiting to get back to Florida since I left the day after Christmas heading back to New York City, and the days passed exactly as I had hoped they would; slow, lazy, soaked in the heat and humidity that has become a character of its own when I think back on my adolescence. There wasn’t a moment I was standing beside my mother when I wasn’t hugging her, and I spent a lot of time being a complete creeper and just staring at my family so that I could remember what this felt like, to save up the love like a bear about to hibernate through a long, lonely winter. It may be exclusionary but I saw the people there who truly matter, my immediate family, my two surrogate brothers, and my dear friend Ian, my love for whom I’m oddly incapable of expressing other than to say that it’s real, and that he knows how to be a friend better than anyone I know.
I spent my last day sitting at the dining room table with my siblings and Ian, eating, cracking jokes and telling stories with the kind of ease and familiarity I know I’m blessed to have. When I got into the car so my parents could drive me to the airport, I had no desire to cry. I had spent time with my family and felt all the better for it, recharged and ready to take on a city that is so persistent in its attack on my being. But before I knew it, I was sobbing in the backseat. My dad held my hand from the driver’s seat and I had half a mind to fling myself from the car, into the Florida heat and rain and just disappear with the humidity.
The last of my fortune ran out in Florida; I was upgraded to a business class seat and spent my flight sitting cross-legged and staring out the window. When I landed in New York City I was welcomed with the news that I would have to wait an hour for a van to pick me. This turned to two hours. I felt again the desire to disappear, but it was held off by the thought that, here, no one would hesitate to forget me. I felt the desire to cry at my misfortune, but it seems my body has decided that since my breakdown at work, New York doesn’t deserve my tears.
I was dropped off at Grand Central and took two trains home to my quiet neighborhood in South Slope. It was 12:53AM. I lugged my suitcase up the three flights of stairs to the space I share with our beloved Pumpkin. I realize now that I didn’t hug her, I just asked her why the dishes that were there before I left were still on the table. We talked for two hours, about what I can’t even remember. Probably Tom Hiddleston. Whiskey. Grocery shopping. Newsies. As I lay there in bed afterward, unable to sleep, staring up at my ceiling while the sun came up, it occurred to me that if not for Julie, I would have spent the night weighing the pros and cons of quitting my job and going back to Orlando.
To Julie: You are an amazing roommate. You are exceptionally talented, and make every day of my life in New York City better. You’re kind and patient and your facial expressions are priceless. You put up with the fact that I haven’t done much to clean the bathroom. You’re an enabler to my sweet tooth and I refuse to regret eating an entire pint of Talenti Caramel Cookie Crunch or Ben & Jerry’s Red Velvet because HOLY SHIT THEY ARE GOOD. I love that you’re a bizarre night owl because for some reason it makes me feel safe. You accept me for whom I am and believe I can be who I want to be, all the while choosing to overlook the worse parts of me for the better. You listen to me complain about a job that I think you might murder me to have. You believe in a world where we don’t have to compromise to live happy lives, and while I think it’s a pipe dream, I need you to keep believing that because it’s people who believe that way who make the world a better place.
Life gets rough. We take jobs we hate to avoid feeling worthless. We quit jobs we hate to avoid feeling useless. We put ourselves on the line and attempt to take the pitfalls in stride no matter how much they tear us up on the inside. I can’t tell you how much it means to know that after everything has fallen apart and life has shown us how little we matter, I can come home and spend two hours discussing how Tom Hiddleston needs to just stop it already and Andrew Garfield needs to just show himself already because he’s definitely been within a three block radius of us at some point and is obviously just consciously avoiding us now and how can these bitches not eat hamburgers because what the hell is wrong with them they are delicious. When I’m with you I feel the same quiet sense of accomplishment that I felt sitting around that dining room table on my last day in Florida. Like I’ve acquired something worth envying. I feel like I’m home. I love you.
Btw, I bought your lunch for you. You’re such an idiot.