Updated: May 21, 2020
My best friend/freshman year roommate/platonic soulmate Sam and I’s favorite pastime is philosophically deconstructing social norms. Our three cardinal rules in no particular order: time is fake, we’re all dying, and home isn’t a place. This is, of course, a non-inclusive list of everything we tear apart. We codeswitch through the slippery tongue of twins, separated by exactly one week (she’s older) and one foot (she’s taller). One year, I made her a banner for her wall so that everyone who passed would see “HOME ISN’T A PLACE” in red glitter screaming at them. Her windows were near the short sidewalk bridging the academic and residential sides of campus, so in hindsight I probably caused a lot of existential crises. It’s comforting to know I probably wasn’t the only one.
Now I have all of this extra time on my hands that isn’t really extra time. Conceptually, it is – I no longer have to walk ten minutes to the bus stop, ride that bus twenty-five minutes to campus, walk ten more minutes to my office, sit there and pretend to do work or organize my planner for fifteen minutes before I have to go somewhere – but instead I find myself shambling. I’ve been shambling now since March 14. The shambling isn’t new, but the thought patterns persist. I have to remind myself that we are bludgeoned by subtle traumas every day. Instead of dwelling on impossibilities, I text Sam.
S A M
time is fake!!!
I know it is, buddy
Anyway, my stress hives are worse hbu
coming back a little at a time. rip us.
Today, my girlfriend Emily quit the job she hates but held nine months too long. I no longer have to try coaxing out a smile or a laugh from her; it comes freely like champagne bubbles, exfoliating the sludge of the last two months’ pain and heartbreak and time lost staring at walls. We’re thinking about driving back east when it’s safe to see her family and friends in the Midwest. Sam’s still at her mom’s place in farmland Ohio, on seven acres of what used to be soy fields, a house that welcomed me for Thanksgiving three years in a row as a third foot-shorter child. Now that Emily has nothing tethering her here, the multi-day drive seems more probable than possible.
I haven’t seen Sam in person in one year and three days. This is the longest we’ve ever been apart. When she dropped me off at the airport for winter break freshman year, she told me she cried on the drive back. Sam realized that our friendship was something brilliant, and that she wasn’t sure how to reconcile the ideas of the past she was returning to and the future she was temporarily setting aside. I find myself in a similar spot now: the future, finally, is bright. It’s something filtered by a lot of garbage and uncertainty, but, hey, home isn’t a place, it’s the people you surround yourself with.