It’s 4pm, on a Tuesday afternoon. I have roughly an hour left at work when I feel the phone vibrate in my pocket. Taking it out, its the same message I get approximately every other day. The wording can change, but the content is the same;
“Are you going straight home after work, or do you want to come over for dinner later?“
The message is simple,
and it’s intent,
It doesn’t stop it from hurting any less.
I’m recently turned 31 years old, and my relationship of the past 10 years has dissolved. In the middle of June, I moved out. This was no surprise for either of us, as it was something we both felt was long overdue. There was a crack in our foundations, and no matter what we tried, we couldn’t fix it.
There is love still shared between us,
Or at least,
A version of it.
Each of us came from separated homes. Each of us wanted so desperately not to turn out like our own parents, that we fought to save things and lost a lot along the way.
We had to face what we could avoid no longer.
Individually, we came to the same conclusion:
Separation was our best hope at remaining friends.
That this was a relationship we both wished to salvage in whatever way we could, in the hopes our son wouldn’t grow up with the same distrust and fragility that we did.
A childhood friend graciously offered to take me in.
As a result of my new living situation, the notion of “home” plays ambiently in my head. I have a place, a room, a bed I am beyond thankful for. Despite this, I ask myself;
Do I have a home?
Home is more than a house. It’s more than a structure. Home is where your spirit heals and your heart rests. Home is where you don’t have to be doing anything, merely being there allows you to recharge.
The aforementioned texts don’t help. That text I quoted at the start would be from my (this word still feels so violent to me) Ex-partner. If I’m not working back late, then most evenings, I come over for dinner and stay until its time to put our son to bed.
Then the words come,
But they cut me down all the same:
“Are you getting a bus to work from here or are you going home tonight?“
We’ve danced this dance three times since I’ve moved out. It is certainly easier to get to work from hom- her place, and each of us finds ourselves struggling without each other.
Being in that bed, our bodies entwined, was how we once recharged.
These things, each of them were once my home.
We lie to each other during the act.
Nostalgia and loneliness make for potent intoxicants.
Old phrases recycled,
Old favourites are played out,
In the hopes we find that spark,
Those are the hardest days right now.
Those days where we grasp at something, unable to hold onto it and a solitary thought chimes;
Was there ever anything to hold on to or were we two broken people thinking the other had the missing piece.
Of course, there was, but an empty heart would seldom admit it, especially to oneself.
There are days then that I hear from my friend. The scenario is vaguely the same.
I’ll receive a text during the day, maybe while at work or getting in an evening with my son. Something like;
“Hey, we’re getting take away later, you want in or you staying at home for the night?“
That word again.
It’s funny what things we let have power over us.
I tell him I’ll be over soon.
That I won’t be staying at the house.
What I don’t tell him is that the text makes me flinch.
“Home” has turned expletive.
To me, the word is now the “H” word. Where-ever I can, I avoid it. What once was home, is now the house. The apartment I share is frequently referred to as my room.
To call these places anything else, to instil them with any other traits,
To imply value,
My friend, my parents, our social circle, to them, this is a temporary thing. A lovers quarrel, they think. The tragedy here is we both want this all to be over, to be done.
We just don’t know how to do it without each other’s help.
Better days show themselves on occasion.
Ones which end with me laying flat on my back, my shoulders stiff, where I laugh until I cry. These are days where, with no interruptions, I spend exclusively with my son.
Days where we walk in the park, play hide and seek, and I walk to and fro with him on my shoulders.
He is a waif of a child, with absolutely no padding on his bottom.
It use to be that I’d keep his head resting above mine, him pulling at my hair or eyes to guide me, while my shoulders would roar in protest as his body practically cut into mine.
Now, I keep him up there until he asks to get down.
We wrestle and jump on the trampoline.
I forever play the monster that can’t win, yet can never be stopped.
My legs threatened to give out as he orders me once more to
“DO THE HIGH JUMP DAD!”
I take him to bed and kiss his brow. I offer him a good night and tell him I love him.
I don’t tell him that even then,
With his warmth between my arms,
I miss him.
For all the days I’ve yet to live, I miss him.
On those most exceptional of days,
He tells me he loves me.
To hear it said is a treasure that nothing else could compete with.
On those days,
When I get the bus back to my room,
I think on the day lived,
Because home is more than a house. It’s more than a structure. Home is where your spirit heals.
And it can be many things.
As I lay on the bed, my shoulders stiff and leg muscles raw, I remember a simple truth;
Where-ever I am, whatever I’m doing, so long as he is there,
And I laugh.
I laugh until I cry.