There are specific places that make me step back for a minute. It’s more than location. It can be a time, a temperature, a smell – those sensory details that give physical places weight and context. Sometimes these places are far-flung and exotic, either through distance or unfamiliarity: The sweaty, garlicky heat of a Taipei night market. A dusty stretch of Austin highway in a caramel Fiat the sales rep is still pissed you chose instead of a giant SUV. Pretty much anywhere in the South. Sorry Toronto, I know you’re technically in another country but it felt a whole lot like home.
Right now I’m really into my living room late at night. Early morning is good too, but like 10:30 or 11 at night is best. I do my stretches and look at the curtains.
They hang like green ghosts, illuminated by streetlights. I start by doing that thing where I walk my hands forward, feeling the stretch in my always-tight shoulder blades. I think about all the places I’ve lived that I wanted to be good so bad, but I was pretty bad at making anything good. I never wanted to come home. Home was screaming and immovable clutter growing up, then ants and roommates, then-
I do those weird chiropractic exercises that my boyfriend calls carpet-swimming. It hurts but it’s that good pain. Muscles and tendons shifting, I think about the guy who wouldn’t move in with me because he said my taste sucked (okay, there were other reasons too but come on), and all the stupid, shitty fights. How I never had my boyfriend over to my place because I was ashamed that I couldn’t do it, that trying to make my domicile cute inevitably ended in rage and crying and one time a punched wall.
I lift my head up to revisit the curtains. They’re cheap, gauzy numbers from Urban Outfitters seven years ago, sun-bleached and slightly shredded in places by our asshole cat. I bought them during a time when I was scared to do anything with my apartment because I felt like (I knew) I’d fuck it up. They sat there for years, never leaving their shipping boxes.
For the first time, I like coming home. I move into child’s pose and my gaze swivels up to the ceiling, but I can still see them out of the corner of my eye: something delicate and fluttering, a thin but present protection.