Last night I was sitting on the plane back to DC, reflecting on my time at home and my return back to my lonely apartment.
I can’t remember a time during the last few years when I didn’t cry when I had to leave home. I think perhaps it was during college when I loved seeing my family but was perfectly happy to make the drive back to my friends, my life, my sweet boyfriend.
But now when my mom drives me to the airport, I’m filled with dread. Different kinds of dread at different times, but always dread. Despair. During graduate school, it was that I hated school; that I had to remain in a place where I’d been violated; that I was battling with anxiety attacks that made me throw-up daily. Every time I cried and cried, my mother comforting me and reassuring me that all would be well. Somehow she gave me enough courage to get on the plane every single time. One time I came back home a week later. But every time I managed to go.
After I finished graduate school, the dread was in my job that I despised. I was miserable and isolated and hated being micromanaged, questioned, and patronized on a daily basis. I had an hour long commute each way, and came home feeling angry and discouraged most days. It was exhausting. I wanted out. I wanted comfort, home, familiarity. And again, my mom would comfort me, remind me that this was only temporary, that I would move on to bigger and better things. I just needed to hang in there. And again, off I went, tears streaming down my face as I threw my shoes and travel-sized bottles of shampoo into the security bin. I’d pray that the metal detector wouldn’t go off. I just couldn’t take one more shitty thing.
And here I am today, what I would consider a grown woman, and still I’m on the brink of tears again, wanting nothing more than the embrace of my mother. Her comfort, her familiarity, her steadfast love. I don’t just want to hear it on the phone or read it in an email. I want to feel it with me. I’m 26 years old, and I just want my mom.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the near future, about when my contract for my job is up and I have to start thinking of what I’m going to do next. Maybe I’ll stay in DC. Maybe I won’t. The part I hate the most is how far away my family is. Being with them this weekend, as much as they drive me crazy, made me feel alive and connected. There was no room for isolation, for loneliness with them by my side. It didn’t numb the pain I’m feeling, but they held me. My brother shared this precious time with his son with me. My mom stroked my head and understood when there were no words. My nephew made me light up every time he said my name and grabbed my hand to show me some new wonder.
I didn’t know what I’d been missing. And had the events of the last month or so been different, I might never have known that.