Homecoming (January 2019, Round 3, Day 1)
Let me set the scene for you. I was siting in the center of the room, on the floor because all the removable furniture was already gone, surrounded by piles and piles of things my parents had, to use their word, “collected.” In that moment I was frozen by the immensity of the task before me. Everything I could see and all the things I couldn’t yet due to the piles had, in an instant, become my responsibility, my inheratance, my problem.
Are you a collector? Look around you right now – what do you see? I had grown up in this environment of things and didn’t realize there were people who WEREN’T collectors until I’d left home after high school. I still feel bad for my first roommate. Carrie. Poor thing. In today’s vocabulary she probably would have labeled herself a minimalist though back then she was just too poor to have much to bring with her to school. She drew the short straw that year getting me for a roommate and she knew it as soon as she walked into our shared room that I’d immediatly filled with things.
I digress. I was sitting on the floor, surrounded by things that hadn’t been collected by me and that were suddenly mine and was feeling frozen. That was the scene he walked in on, the scene he had the opportunity to walk away from, the scene he chose to participate in. Before then I’d really only shared awkward waves from across the street on the rare occasions that my parents were successful at guilting me into coming home for visits. Once you leave an evironment like this and get a taste of what it means to inhabit a space with room to breathe it becomes hard to return to the fold. For me, anyway.
So I didn’t know him, really, though I knew his name thanks to all the stories-with-a-side-of-guilt my parents liked to regail me with on my rare visits. Chad. As in, “Chad came by last week and mowed the lawn,” and “Chad from across the street is so kind,” and “don’t worry about that – we’ll just ask Chad to help us with it since you’re so busy.” Chad was the son they never had with all the qualities they didn’t get in me. They didn’t seem to take responsibility for my distance or presumed lack of Chad-ness. All my faults were mine alone.
Right. The scene. I’m sitting on the floor, surrounded by things, stuck, and there’s a knock at the door. There was no easy way for me to get over the piles to open it so I, in full small-town fashion, called out for whoever was there to come on in. I’d only been back in town for a week and was already slipping back into the old ways after years of city dwelling. There was no way in hell I’d leave a door unlocked back home much less let an unknown person let themselves into my space. Here? I stayed on the floor, legs folded, and simply looked up to see who might be willing to enter this particular chaos.