I’ve spent the past week in my hometown, so glazed over by equal parts excitement and nerves that it’s hard to believe that I’m even returning to Tallahassee for two more weeks before our move to New York. I have, with surprising ease, accepted that I won’t have a home for the next few months. My house in Tallahassee will only be a shell as I throw out its contents and post pictures of its more essential parts on craigslist for internet buyers’ gaping, anonymous faces. My home, a collection of jpeg images and hyperlinks.
And then there are the smaller things. Tchotchkes no one would dare purchase for more than a dollar, that carry a price much higher in my heart. Even though they are in my house, I am no longer the owner. The day before I leave, an urban mission thrift store is coming with a moving truck to collect the rest of my belongings. All I’ll have left are a few boxes, and the two duffel bags I can fit on the plane. I won’t even have my cats.
Sitting in my childhood home, I am a stranger. Things degrade or change so slowly, that each time I’ve returned in the seven years I’ve been gone, it’s like my eyes are playing tricks. A new flat screen here, a hole in the wall there – a slow acclamation of different things, until, I stand in my other home and don’t know what I’m looking at. I used to only visit for a day or two at a time, fearful that perhaps, any longer I would suffocate, or worse, become trapped. At first, I would clean out the garage or wash all the curtains, hoping my brief presence and small efforts would keep things the same. Now I stay longer, avoidant of tasks, aware of my obligations, but not knowing where to start.
While in this town, certainly, I barely leave the house, hoping no one sees me. I am only a visitor, after all. I sneak around, with meek footsteps, careful not to disturb the ghosts. People I once knew, perhaps, or have seen so many times, but I just can’t remember. Everyone looks the same in this town, yet, their faces change. Like my home, they develop slow cracks and tiny bloats over the years. I’m never sure who I’m looking at. They’re only a decoupage image that my brain struggled to create as it fills in the gaps of knowledge of the old and new.
Last night, I met up with Felicite (my Tallahassee friend, and future roommate in New York) and Mike (my ex-boyfriend, an unchanging personality from my past). We go out of our way to find a sad bar that serves pitchers for a few bucks and watch the old ghosts. They are happy and drunk, and sway their hips together to the live music cover band.