Quarantine Diaries: Take Me Home


Steve Cole - christie and cole s

Source: Unsplash

Ashley Aviles

Little by little I shoved my memories into cardboard boxes: my Uno cards that lost their shape due to spilled alcohol, the Jenga game I never had the chance to play with my boyfriend, and the framed photo of my younger sister that watched me during my night-long study sessions. The secrets that only these walls of my dorm room knew slipped into the crevices of each box. My fears of adulthood, prayers about my uncertain future, tears of embarrassment, and nightmares drenched in self-doubt, seeped into the threads of my packed clothing. These memories and clothes were destined to collect dust in a storage unit until I was ready to reflect on these emotions that have woven their way into everything that I own. My only worry was getting home by Sunday.

         So, I focused on the mundane: packing, folding, organizing, and cleaning, in order to ignore my anxieties of returning home to live with my parents three months before graduation: a fruitless job search, crumbling economy, and mandatory separation from my boyfriend. In some odd way, I was packing up these sentiments too. It was by June that these worries were destined to be either recognized or resolved. In the middle of March, these concerns needed to remain closed and unattended in the back of my mind. I could not afford to think. I could not waste time crying. I could not hug him one last time. I had to be home by Sunday.                                                       

         Packing was one of my distractions from acknowledging my present, sleeping became the second. There were three hours until my boyfriend’s flight heading home. We had no clue when we would be able to hold each other again. Yet, in these last moments, I was too busy snoring and drooling on a bean bag because I was unable to face my fate. In my dreams, I had him by my side, I had a job, and most importantly I had certainty in myself. Staring into his eyes for the last time, in a long time, would have removed the tape from all my packed, unprocessed emotions lingering in the depths of my mind. There in his arms, I would have sobbed about how lost I was, how unready I was to claim adulthood, and how much I needed his help to face the challenges that this cruel world would throw at me. But then, he would have left me alone, lost, and red-faced, in order to catch an Uber that would bring him to the airport. He had to be home by Sunday too.

         He left. I still had about two hours to board my bus heading home. Confusion consumed me as I was torn between blasting music to numb my thoughts or sulking over my horrible approach toward farewells. It was selfish. No, I was selfish. I kept choosing myself or at least the tiny bit of myself that I had left. That smidge of composure and ounce of pride won every single time. Call me egotistical, self-centered, conceited, whatever suits you, but I turned up the volume on my Spotify playlist as I got ready. I was not a bad girlfriend. I promise you, I loved him. But here is how love works: you must give your absolute best self to your partner every single time. How could I have said goodbye to the love of my life if I was a fragment, a crippled version of myself stunted by an inability to adapt to my life slipping from my control? He deserved all of me, the best of me, and the better me, but she was nowhere to be found because with little to no notice she was evicted from room 106. She had to be home by Sunday.                       

         Preoccupying myself with the meaning of the loud lyrics blasting in my headphones, I left my residence hall without hesitation. For once, I was not running late and did not want to risk my punctuality with a sloppy adieu. But, it was just easier to fully immerse myself in the song bursting in my ears than immerse myself in the significance of my present. Karol G was all that mattered. She kept me sane as I boarded the Greyhound bus and asked the driver if this bus was heading to New York City. I just needed to make sure that I would be home by Sunday.