“It just doesn’t make sense,” I say out loud into an empty room. Why am I feeling this way? I am happy, right? I have to be.
I look at the teddy bear next to my bed, and realize with horror that I am clutching it tight. I am a fucking adult now! Jeez! I stash Timmy, my teddy bear, back into my suitcase. Trust my mother to put up a teddy bear in a boys’ dorm! My mum and dad were here only half an hour back, and I can still smell my mother’s perfume in the air. That, and the stench of my dad’s cigarette wafts in the air. A heady mix. One that is bound to leave my dorm room soon enough – the last clue of their physical presence.
I am happy. I am happy. I am happy. I tell myself repeatedly, but the tightness in my throat only increases with each passing minute. For two long years, I had waited with bated breath for the freaking pandemic to end so I could be back in college. I had looked longingly at the pictures of my dorm, waved tearfully at my friends and roommates over video calls, and counted days (over and over again) until I could be back here. Then why am I not happy?
The tears came the moment I acknowledged it. The fact that the one thing that had kept me going these two years was, oddly enough, making me sad. Somehow in those two years at home, eyerolling at my mum each time she made me wake up “on time” and ignoring my dad every time he ordered me to listen to mum, somehow all of it had turned my world upside down. It was hard at first, being home, helping my mum chop onions for the hundredth time and listening to my dad go on about cryptocurrency and Metaverse and whatever else took his fancy. Yet…
Yet, it was nice too. Fresh sheets, home-cooked meals, and a glass of wine every Friday. Game nights. Newspaper mornings. I wipe off my tears. My dormmates will be here soon. I can’t be seen crying in front of them. My phone beeps with a text message. For the first time in my life, I hope it’s my parents.
My dad has sent a picture of my empty room at home – the one they had to redecorate after I moved in during the pandemic. I suppose they will turn it into an office again, now that I am back in school. As soon as the thought comes, I see a message from dad: “We’re not changing your room again. You never know, right?”
I smile, feeling slightly less heavy in my throat. I lug out my suitcase from under my bed and take Timmy out. It smells like my mum’s perfume and dad’s cigarettes. A heady mix. Like home.