I got off the number 2 bus at the Dinkytown stop on Tuesday morning and saw what home might have been. It turns out it wasn’t my mother’s baking, it wasn’t the street I rode my bike on as a child. It is the people who never had to be my family, the ones who had a choice in the matter. At that moment I looked over the last two days and felt like the Grinch at the end of the story, you know, the part where his heart grows outside the box.
Home was an apartment I’d never been to before Sunday night. It was a place where, after dinner with ten of my friends, I went and spent the night with four of them. Home was a place where we put aside our old arguments, and forgot the stupid things we’d always said to hurt one another. The cliché writers are correct about the simple things in life, they are often the best. We spent the better part of an evening watching Ducktails on DVD, putting up Christmas decorations, and playing video games. I’d forgotten what it was like to be around people who pick you up bodily when they first see you, people you want to hold you while you watch TV, people who want to stay in the same bed, just because you’re friends, people who laugh and hug back when you keep coming up and holding on.
Home was spending the next afternoon making paper chains for a Christmas tree with my Grandma. I got to listen to her tell all the women in the apartment complex that this was her granddaughter Allison, and her son Tom. I got to hear the pride in her voice about what I was doing with my life. And I heard her disappointment that I was no longer going to school close to her.
Home was the St. Paul campus where I had spent so much of my undergrad. It was the research group who had worked with me for more than a year. It was the shuttle bus ride back to Minneapolis with a friend. I found myself at his apartment, talking about so many things. It felt so freeing to tell someone all of my doubts about my life. Someone who I knew wouldn’t judge, but who would help me through. We talked about literature, and animal health care, and where it was all going to go.
Home was the next morning, when I left him on the bus. I stepped off the 2 into a world I knew so well, the Minneapolis campus. I window shopped in used bookstores and picked up a school paper while I waited for my father. I was almost glad he was late, so that I had a chance to walk around a little on that cold November morning. I wanted so much that my backpack was full of books, instead of clothes.
But I had become an imposter in my own home. A day later, I left there again. All I have now are the memories of home, and the uncertainty that perhaps my mind is putting a gilded coating on my time there. Already I can see the decisions I made there becoming part of a spider web of my bad life choices. The pattern once again traps me down in my own mind. And I can only wish for friends to hug and a place I called home.