Make sure the note is on the kitchen table, next to the juicer. This is a good place for it. Go upstairs and tiptoe around your mother’s door so lightly your feet float above the carpet. Now sneak to your room and begin packing two days worth of clothes, your favorite worn out book that’s missing the cover and a compass so you know which way the Dallas airport is from the house. Make your bed so as to emphasize the fact that you have indeed gone away and don’t plan on coming back. Don’t forget to close the door as you pick up the red Gibson SG you got for your birthday that one year. You can earn money with this guitar whenever you get to the Big Apple. People love musicians in New York City, your friend told you so the other day. Creeping down the wood stairs you make it to the kitchen without so much as a breath. Now comes the hardest decision you will ever make tonight . . . deciding what food to bring with you. Open the refrigerator and cringe at the blinding light that washes over you. There are two pears, some stuff to make ham sandwiches with, cheese and a whole chocolate cake with rainbow sprinkles waiting for you. You decide to take everything but the cheese and make a few sandwiches for the road ahead. In total you carry two bags of clothes, food, a couple oddities like the compass and your guitar. You don’t even feel the weight. Put your hand into your left pocket. Is your cash there? You know; the 225.60 that Alex loaned you until you can pay him back? It isn’t. It’s time to go back to your room, open the door and search frantically on the floor. It must have fallen out of your pocket . . . you vaguely recall something hitting the floor when you were gathering everything together. Bent over the coarse fabric of the carpet and moving blindly with your hands you discover the crumpled bills tied together by a rubber band under your bed. Make sure you have everything else you need. This time you do. Head downstairs, move through the kitchen and then through the living room all the way to the back door. Just be sure not to slam the door as you usually do, this would be a bad decision. So you bound as graceful as a butterfly down to the kitchen, to the living room and are turning the corner when you run straight into a small figure about two feet shorter than you. You scream from sheer surprise of finding anyone awake at this ungodly hour. To dodge the figure you try to veer toward the back door. But you aren’t quick enough. Your wiry but sturdy mother bear hugs you so hard you can’t escape and start to feel regret. Regret that you ever tried to leave in the first place, that you smoked that weed after school yesterday when you told your mom you were “studying” and for every little lie you ever told. Minutes pass by without any words or a release of the steel grip of her arms. Warm tears slide down your dirty face; one or two and then a landslide. Slowly you make your mind up and hug your mom back just as fiercely as she is holding you. “Please don’t leave. You don’t know how much I love you.”She whispers in your left ear soft enough that it tickles. Suddenly your desire to see New York is dimming and is outweighed by the proposition of a familiar comfortable house. New York can wait. Maybe home isn’t such a boring word; after all this is where you’ve grown up, where your greatest memories are and where your now crying, hunched over mother makes special chocolate cakes just for you. You drop your bags with a smile and decide to stay. Your mother murmurs a “thank-you” that is so garbled you can barely understand it. You stay.
May 5, 2011