Clans, Convenience and Comfort

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Two weeks. The time it took me to stop crying every time I heard my mom’s voice over the phone when I left for college. This made zero sense for three reasons.

  1. My school was only two hours away without traffic.
  2. I went home to visit (and do laundry) that first weekend.
  3. Finally, I had said since about the age of five I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of that town.

To this day the idea of having to move back to Cabazon, CA sits high on my list of fears. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll always be the place I grew up, but at the same time there came a moment where it just didn’t feel like home anymore. Zach Braff details this is Garden State and we’ll talk about that soon but this is my story, and not one where I go home for a funeral and meet a girl who wears a helmet. This is about a girl who grew up in a place that often times felt suffocating, who grew to realize that no matter where she laid her head – it was life’s hands around her neck, not the place her shit resided that made her feel out of breath.

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The time and date escape me but I remember being in kindergarten, sitting in my mom’s brand new Nissan, waiting for the morning class to exit so I could regain ownership of my cubby. Watching the clock without knowing the real meaning of time, I said something to my mom about wanting to move because it was boring. She said I could leave as soon as I was 18. Fast forward to the night before the big move, bags packed, tears working overtime.

Once I realized I had to take a page out of Pauly Shore’s handbook and explore this new place instead of moping about – I started to go home less and less; holidays and one or two times before because I do have a heart and missed the people I’m genetically linked to. Each goodbye I’d get a little weepy, make a joke and be happy knowing I was going back to a city that made me feel like I could do anything.

That feeling was crushed as soon as graduation was said and done. Living in a dorm is 100 times different than finding a place and being a real grown up. Rent isn’t taken care of thanks to FASFA and there’s no RA to readily fix your problems. Plus, rent is the absolute worst…

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…this is especially true when you missed the lesson on employment and how to gain it. Was that one of the classes I skipped to wait in line for a show? Dammit. No notes and a lack of skills landed me in retail for the holidays and then a commission-only gig for a couple of years until I walked out one day and never looked back. I lied and said I was going back to school. Instead I walked into a contract job that lasted a summer. Thank goodness I had contacts and was able to stay afloat through freelance. At first that was great, but today I make enough to to pay for half of a one bedroom and that’s about it. Today it’s all I do, and unlike Paul in Paul Moves Out, I’m not one to go spending money left and right. The struggle is real but it beats living in a place that doesn’t feel like home anymore.

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Flat on my back on a fold out bed staring at a stained ceiling I knew too well. Long gone was my room in this double wide. Gone were my things that were once left lazily on the dining room table. Gone, was me. There was maybe one piece of photographic evidence I’d ever been a part of this trailer’s history. In my place were grandkids’ accomplishments and new decorations, none of which I knew the story behind unless I asked. There was no reason to be crying in the middle of the night. I hadn’t truly lived there for almost a decade but it hurt. It’s hard to look at the place you grew up and not feel at home when sitting there alone, but only when you’re mom is standing in the kitchen making you swear that you’ve got enough blankets to survive winter.

The stress of paying for everything, knowing your parents have even less in their pockets – that made for a lot of similar nights in my own living room. There was my bed in the room next door. There were my things nicely put away and organized like I liked them. There were pictures showcasing I called that place home. There were my ticket stubs, worn out Chucks and Backstreet Boys memorabilia. There was absolutely no reason I should be crying in these places I lived out on my own, but the reality was that no matter what – it’s hard to feel like you belong anywhere unless all the factors line up.

At my mom’s I’m now merely a guest, at my place I’m forever stressed a single wrong move with one my many employers would be it, and I’d be done. Then I think, maybe I’d be better if I had job security, or lived even closer to my parents, or if I knew the truth behind Tupac’s death. Who knows, all I know is the idea of home when you’re a kid is family, but as you get older it shifts to convenience – LA was where concerts were – LA was where I needed to be. Now I’ve found that home is kind of just this idea you build up in your head and as you get older it’s about comfort. Where do you feel the most free to fart, lounge braless and pee with the door open? That’s the place you can be like, hey life – get those hands off my neck, I’ve got some gas to pass; I’m home.

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