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Leaving a Home
April 30, 2010
It’s been three years since my life took a drastic turn. Three years since the biggest change of my occurred. Three years. And it still hurts.
I couldn’t tell you what the weather was that day, but I’ll tell you one thing: it was raining on me.
I remember standing in the kitchen, looking around at the empty house. Well, empty that is, except for the millions of boxes scattered around.
Packing and moving is always a chaotic process. Even more so, when your heart’s not in it. And especially so, if every fiber of your being is screaming at you not to do it.
I’d hated that house, or, more accurately, apartment. I’d hated it since the moment I’d stepped into it. I had never felt satisfied when I looked at the small confines around me, and had always longed for a bigger house -ya know, the huge white house with the picket fence and all that. But at that moment, when we were finally leaving, my heart wanted nothing more to stay in that small apartment. The irony of the situation was not lost on me either.
As I stared at the shattered home, I felt so empty, so lost. Homeless. And I technically was, since we had yet to find a house to move into at that time. Pretty stupid a move on our part, to tell you the truth.
Staring at the inside of our ex-apartment had been driving me crazy and making me feel more depressed that I already was, so I had decided to go out and take a last stroll around the neighborhood. Of course, that plan had backfired as soon as I gazed around at the blue apartment buildings. Seeing the cozy houses, the green lawns, the haphazardly placed bicycles brought back memories of joyous, carefree times; times that would, sadly, never come back. And that just made the rain pour down on me harder than before.
Oh, but I hadn’t known those times would never come back. Well, wrong; I had known, but I had been in denial. Deep, deep denial. Like the naïve little girl I was, I had been clutching onto every little shred of hope that didn’t exist, making up fantasies in my head and what not, to convince myself that we would not move. Or at least not move and stay there. But as you have probably concluded already, my hopes were in vain, and we did, in fact, move and stay there. Or what is now, here.
I’d always known we’d move back to India one day. I don’t know why, but it had always been ingrained in me that Michigan was only a temporary home, and our true place was back in the land which we came from. As opposed as I was to this fact, I had accepted it, and pretended to love the idea of moving. That was probably another mistake of mine. Had I shown my parents how much it affected me, how much I hated the idea…perhaps we wouldn’t have moved back…or perhaps we still would’ve moved. My parents never have been the type to change big decisions based on the way we react to situations. They would’ve merely overlooked it as a little girl’s foolishness, would’ve thought I’d get over it soon. But that soon wasn’t soon enough for me.
One of the most painful things about moving - the main reason I didn’t want to move - was because of all the people I’d have to say farewell too. I remember the last time I saw my friends - the last time I saw their faces in reality, and for some, the last time I saw their faces at all. Memories of the final day of school, the last dance, art, and karate classes I’d attend there kept flooding my mind. These memories were bittersweet - the one time my friends openly showed their affection also happened to be the last time I might see them at all. Or they might have been just faking the sadness. You never know.
But real and unreal affections aside, the one farewell that really touched me deep had been the one at dance class.
It was my last day, and I hadn’t told anyone I’d be leaving, aside from a few of my closest friends. We were all dancing together - my group, with the seniors. This was the dance class I had been attending since I was knee high, the dance class where I learnt and grew and made friends I’d never forget. I had grown to love Bharatanatyam dance and appreciate the grace and patience it required to do such a dance. It had also taken me to the stage, and dancing on a stage had given me a power I could have felt no other way. In a nutshell, I loved this class and the teachers and my sisters so much, and the fact that it was my last time here was breaking my heart and clouding my eyes.
Looking around at all the different girls and ladies who had been united by a common love for this beautiful art form, I had felt a determination course through me, and I decided I’d make the most of this class. I danced my best for that one hour - and when I felt my limbs stretch as far as they would go, and felt the heat consume my body, I took the pain with a smile on my face because I knew I was doing it right. Suddha Aunty, our teacher, noticed this as well, and out of all the girls present - juniors and seniors alike - she called on me and made me show the rest how it was truly done. And when all the girls had clapped for me - my friends, my teachers, and the seniors whom I idolized alike - the feeling of sisterhood that hung in the atmosphere had tears filling my eyes. I felt loved ,adored, and proud, and was sad that might have been the last time I would ever feel that way.
When I think about that time now, I realize I should’ve felt grateful I got to experience such a feeling at all. But alas, when one is falling a pit of depression, they cannot feel themselves go anywhere but downwards. And that was exactly what I was doing.
I remembered each goodbye, each crestfallen face, each quivering, reluctant smile. I remembered leaving karate class, the class I had loved to hate all those years, but soon grown to love the people in it. I remembered saying goodbye to my music and art teacher and all the students I had learnt and grown with. I could never forget how one of my teachers had sent me to the office in school, in hopes to make a farewell card from the class in that time, but had failed because I hadn’t waited for the office assistant to read the note that said ‘keep her there’. I remember my last trip with my friends to FPS State Bowl, and the fun we had there. I remembered the last sleepover I had with my best friend of five years, and the first and last time my friend had brought her new puppy for me to see. I remembered the farewell party I had thrown, and all the gifts and cards people had brought, despite me telling them not to. I remembered all the love that I had, whether I knew it or not.
And when I walked through the airport, away from the place I loved, each memory played through my mind and sliced at my heart. At the threshold of the plane, my step faltered, my throat tightened, and the tears I had fought against for so long slowly slipped out. Even though I refused to acknowledge it, it was farewell to my one and only home.