I left my home once in the middle of some self-induced drama. Feeling so adult and self-righteous, I walked out the door with a few boxes and my then bright-red suitcase filled with only the beautiful things in my life. This was before children, before I truly understood the importance of paying bills on time, before the real seriousness of life had set in.
All of my reasons for leaving felt so profound and pointed. That season was rainy and I relished the dreariness of it all. Looking back, it’s almost embarrassing to remember the supposedly deep turmoil I was feeling and the illusion of freedom I felt when I closed the door and walked out of that house I had finagled and lied for.
I unpacked my suitcase in the bedroom of the top floor apartment of a beautiful red brick building that had its name written in stone on the front. I brought a trailing jasmine plant that furtively began to lose its flowers – each morning I would wake up to a new pile of small white buds littering the hardwood floor. The conditions were not suitable for its health and slowly it shrunk, its scent growing more sticky and geriatric as the weeks went on. It’s sweet smell marks that brief time.
I languished and made myself into a martyr through music, floating through the days. My red suitcase sat in the corner of the room, all-knowing.
I tried on different costumes: hippie, goth, yuppie, artist, anxious, depressed. I let people say terrible things to me and I absorbed them in a fog. I ate olives and bread and pretended this is what I had wanted all along, feeling more and more frantic as the money ran out.
I became angry and played with voice by yelling and lecturing and talking. I drank. Then my voice was gone and I listened, reworking things in my head, arranging a strategy. I had a lot of headaches and I clenched my jaw.
I made a silent contract and began packing the red suitcase. The jasmine was shriveled and almost flower-less. It smelled of soil now and heat.
And then I went back – but not truly. I had my reasons for returning and they are good. I still stand by them. But it was never home again.