The Fourth of July has always been a weird holiday for me. I never really enjoyed summertime — the humidity makes me miserable, the heat tires me out, and the sun beating down on my skin feels excruciating. (You would think my Filipino heritage would make me think otherwise, but hey…)
Since starting college, I’ve dreaded going home. The lack of freedom, the isolation, the boredom… it’s all so soul-crushing. Going to school in a big city like Boston, where nearly everything is either T-accessible or within walking distance, rubs more salt into the wound. If I want to do anything at home, I have to ask my parents for a ride, and that leads to the questions: When will you be home? Who are you going out with? What are you going to be doing? Why aren’t you home yet? To top it all off, I regrettably haven’t kept in touch with most of my friends from high school and younger, so most of my time at home is spent on the couch, waking up at 4 PM, eating leftovers, and watching reruns. It’s fun for the first day, I’ll admit, but it gets old really fast.
So I’ve avoided going home. The summer after my freshman year, I moved back to New Jersey, worked part-time at the local mall, and counted the slow-moving days until my return to the big city. After that, I vowed to never spend another summer at home, bumming on my parent’s couch. There’s so much else I could be doing, and in more exciting places, so why waste my time?
I’m currently spending my second consecutive summer away from home without any immediate plans to return home. I can’t say that each moment is more exciting than the next — right now, I’m sitting on the couch listening to music, writing this, and doing absolutely nothing else — but it’s definitely been better than staying home. That’s why, despite my mother’s best efforts to persuade me to come home, even for a few days, I’ve been reluctant to leave.
Last weekend, some friends and I went down to another friend’s home several hours away for her graduation party. As much as I love the city, and as much as I despised living in the suburbs, the change of pace was quite refreshing. For one, driving around in the dead of night with no streetlights to guide the way was certainly an adventure in itself. She took us to a local park, and walking around, feeling the grass and gravel crackle beneath our feet, was a literal breath of fresh air. Even sitting around, sipping beers under the canopy of the forest — unheard of in the city! — was a much needed escape.
The thing that struck me the most, however, was the full-on feeling of “home” that emanated throughout the entire weekend. From the coziness of their house, including comfortable furniture and knick-knacks scattered throughout, to her parents’ welcoming us with wide open arms, providing meals and jokes and lots and lots of… refreshments… The entire thing felt like it should have been a simple weekend getaway, like renting a cabin in the woods and sitting around a campfire, but the addition of family members swapping stories and pictures on the walls and carefully cooked meals gave the entire weekend an entirely new dimension.
It really made me miss home.
At one point, while everyone else was off having fun, I sat on my airbed and contemplated calling my mother. I wanted to apologize for being so finicky about returning to New Jersey, and ask when her next weekend off would be so that I could buy bus tickets back. Just the thought of walking through my garage, entering my living room, and smelling my parents’ cooking from the kitchen gave me goosebumps. We could go out to dinner on Friday night, go shopping together on Saturday, then she could come down to the living room and wake me up for brunch then afternoon mass on Sunday…
Alas, I fell asleep halfway through the night, and before I knew it, it was too late to call.