This post originally appeared on Bed Crumbs.
I quit my job last Friday. I packed up all ten pairs of shoes in my desk drawers, took down all the photos taped to the wall behind my computer. Two weeks before, I walked into my boss’s office and nervously handed him a resignation letter. He smiled and wished me good luck and just like that, a two and a half year period of my life began to come to an end.
I had a week off between my last day at my old job and my first day at the new one. A week to do whatever I wanted — I haven’t been this free since college. Since before college, really. I cracked jokes about funemployment and lack of stress, but as the days began to bleed into each other, I realized that getting away from it all wasn’t really getting me anywhere. I don’t know how to not be busy.
It’s Saturday morning and I’m up before the sun. I decided to go home for the weekend, see the Pennsylvania fall before it’s over. By the time I’m back for Thanksgiving (if I can make it back for Thanksgiving), the flaming trees will be extinguished and bare. My parents are out of town and I have the house to myself.
When I was younger, I used to fantasize about coming home as an adult. I would arrive at the train station chic and sophisticated, like Audrey Hepburn inSabrina. I’d catch people’s stares — Who is this girl? Where did she come from? — as I ducked into a chauffeured car. When it pulled up to my house, I would emerge slowly and stoically, with my dark sunglasses still on, and ring the doorbell to surprise everyone.
In reality, I arrive tired and without makeup, the bags under my eyes heavier than the ones I carry in my arms. I wear ripped jeans and a Rolling Stones sweatshirt, my hair in a messy braid. I don’t even have a black car waiting to whisk me away. My Uber is a sad, tan sedan.
But the second I walk in the door, I feel lighter. I drop my bags in the living room, grab my mother’s car keys, and drive for what feels like hours. My throat hurts when I finally return home. I was singing the whole time.
It feels nice to not think for awhile.
I sleep until nearly noon — the latest I’ve slept since high school. I feel guilty for wasting the morning, but I remember I have nowhere to be and nothing to do and no one to report to. I remember that I stayed up until 3 a.m. the night before. I remember how many times I had to stop myself from texting you.
That afternoon, I meet my sister to go shopping. “I need business lady clothes,” I tell her. “I need to look more like a boss bitch.” Aside from a black turtleneck, I inexplicably end up putting a bag full of floaty, Free People-y gypsy dresses in the backseat of my mother’s car.
I want to talk to you, but I can’t, so I distract myself by binging on a bowl of mint chocolate chip frozen yogurt and episodes of Transparent. I eat the yogurt in tiny bites and by the time the second episode begins to autoplay, it’s nearly all melted. One more mess to clean up.
I woke up in the middle of the night, suddenly very aware of how alone I am.Someone is going to murder me, I panic. Someone must know I’m here by myself. This isn’t like being home alone in a secure apartment building. This is a house. There are a million ways in and out, and someone is going to find one of them, break in, and murder me.
At some point I fall back to sleep. My parents come home 12 hours later, and even if their presence annoys me a little with their nagging questions about what I’ve done the past few days and when I’m going back and what plans I have coming up, I let out a breath of relief I didn’t know I was holding. I will not be murdered tonight.
A man approached me at the gym this morning:
“I know this isn’t proper gym etiquette,” he explained, “but I’ve seen you work out here before. I love your face.”
“What?” I panted from the elliptical, looking down at him while I climbed simulated hills.
This is the first time I’ve been here in months and I’m left a little unsettled. People at home are so quick to warn me about the dangers of the big city, but sometimes I think it’s the small town creeps that are scarier. I’m paranoid as I leave and take the long way home.
I told myself I would be productive this week, but here I am digging through boxes of old photos while a five hour long highlight reel of Glastonbury 2013 plays on the TV. I’m enamored with photos of 6-year-old me. There are a surprising amount of ones circa 1997 where I’m proudly flashing a peace sign — so much sass. I wish I could time travel and babysit this little girl. I think we would be buds. I think she would like me.
It’s all a good distraction, but I am still very much aware that it’s been a week since we’ve talked.
The day goes by in a blur. Time flies when you’re doing nothing. I was supposed to leave yesterday, but I delay my return to reality a little longer. I don’t want to face being a real person again. I don’t want to face you again. Not yet.
My ears are ringing; I’ve been blasting my music on full volume while I drive. I grow tired of Spotify and start playing mix CDs I’ve found in my parents’ cars. Most of them are nameless, though some are marked with the dates. I squeal in delight when a song I love comes on. Great CD, old me. Good job, I think.
So this is it then? I almost text you. I type it all out, nearly hit send, but delete it all and go back to Instagram. I scroll and scroll, looking at images I’ve already seen. My feed doesn’t refresh fast enough for my attention span.
I am restless, so I dust my bike off for the first time in years and go for a ride. The sun beats down and it’s warmer than it should be for October. I’m not sure if that’s why I’m sweating, or if it’s because of my nerves.
My finger hovers over your name too many times to count. This is all so stupid, I want to say, but never do. I can’t be weak. I can’t miss you.
I don’t need you. I don’t need you. I don’t need you, I repeat. If I say it enough, maybe I’ll believe it.
My week is up and the new job lingers. I’m finally taking a train back to New York. Time to be a grownup again. I’m nauseous, and I can’t tell if it’s from excitement or anxiety. I’m remembering a conversation we once had.
“I’m so afraid of the future,” I said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to me.”
“I don’t know what’s going to happen to me, either,” you said, “but I’m not scared. I’m excited.”