Home?

Sometimes she didn’t want to go home. There were spaces in her life that called out to her, comfort zones that soothed. There was a collection of shoes underneath her desk at work and a special corner of her bookshelf reserved for her latest purchases; an ever-growing collection of books, delivered and fondly arrayed there. There she sat, immersed in her work, occasionally glancing out at the busy streets below where the snow was falling or a sea of umbrellas floating by, in perpetual motion, as she tried to decide whether to take a walk to the local delicatessen for lunch or to skip lunch entirely and stay dry. The lunch hour was usually spent glancing out at the hard-working guy on the eighth floor of the building across the street. He liked to put his feet up on his desk, every now and then, as he took a break from his computer screen or paced around his office, gesturing wildly as he made a point over the phone. On the floor underneath him was a dance studio that sent her thoughts reeling to a dream world of dance and music where she would live out the music trapped within her soul. And on the days when the sun was shining brightly, the rays glinting off the tops of art deco buildings, she felt right at home walking around the block, observing tourists and travelers, beggars and bums and the guy dressed like a chicken handing out flyers for the newest chicken joint. It felt alive, she felt alive, efficient, on top of her game, this was home indeed…or was it work?

Pounding the pavements in her high-heeled boots she often thought about the home of her childhood where she sat with her Dad, hearing and assimilating his dreams for her. The memories were hazy now but she clearly recalled his vision of a successful daughter reaching the highest heights amidst a lively city like this one. The home of her memories was a warm, safe place where dreams were built. Now she was living these dreams. Their dreams had become her own, this setting of their dreams was hers, this world belonged to her. It made the arduous trip back to a place where she could rest for the night extraneous and meaningless. She had yet to live the dreams she had never dreamed for herself.

The line at the bus terminal was like home too where the same faces greeted her each day. She never knew their names but she knew how their bosses had treated them that day or what their husbands or kids had said to them the previous day; this is where she became a repository of information on strangers’ lives. It was a welcome part of the day. It held the promise of a comfortable bus on her favorite seat by the window where she could lose herself in a book until the words on the page started swimming around, the book slipping from her hands as welcome sleep took over. It was two more hours of comfortable escape.

Then the bus ride would end in a vast parking lot, where she was drawn like a magnet toward the silver car she loved as it called out to saying, “Come in, the seat is warm, your music’s waiting!” She would slide her favorite disc into the CD player and sing at the top of her voice, matching every note until she reached the place where her creditors mailed bills. The place where dishes piled up in the sink and dirty clothes in the hamper. The place where everything simply piled up. There were corners of this place she had never visited. Was this home? If this was home why did she feel like backing her car out of the garage again, to be anywhere but here?

Perhaps it was a painful reminder of the things at which she had failed. Every now and then she tried to add a touch or two to one specific corner or the other: a tiny vase here, a picture there, a rearrangement of the furniture or undertaking a backbreaking housecleaning event. She would then sit back and enjoy the fruits of her labor in the comfortable chair that had lovingly been christened “the thinking chair” by her daughter. The house now fragrant and sparkly clean, the clothes ironed, the dishes done, no toys on the floor, no crumbs in the carpet, blankets, pillows, cushions and throws artfully arranged. For one tiny moment in time her world would be in equilibrium. An extremely transitory event that ominously indicated that all hell was about to break loose yet again. As soon as the Barbies got pulled out of the toy basket, their clothes and tiny pointy boots discarded with a vengeance, as soon as the dynamic father-daughter duo trooped into the house with snow or mud-covered boots leaving footprints all around and as soon as the purplest of grape juices got spilled on the freshly spot-removed carpet, the moment would end. She tried to resign herself to this inevitability and repeat the mantra about the futility of all resistance, but it never helped. The peace always got destroyed as soon as she started screaming like a banshee, asking her loved ones to respect the sanctity of her homemaking efforts!

Oh, what was the use! The weekend over, she would retreat into the world of her desk, her computer, her office collection of books, of shoes, of jackets and sweaters hanging at the back of her swiveling chair and the familiar figure in the eighth floor office of the building across the street, and the dancing students below him. She would be home again!

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