I love Christmas. As I emerged from the subway station at Steinway Street in Astoria last night, I heard the tinny sounds of old holiday standards crackling out of speakers attached to the lampposts; the tiny white lights were twinkling on snowflake-shaped decorations; the Salvation Army bell ringer clanged away begging for donations. It’s Christmas time in the city. It should’ve been so perfect.
But I had to go “home” to the apartment I have barely lived in for the past 2 months; the apartment I never really felt at home in anyway. And then I spent the night in an apartment that I have been sleeping in for two months but am not really fully welcomed into. “She can’t be here seven nights a week,” the roommate said. So I keep my things in one place. I sleep in another. I visit my parents in their temporary extended-stay living suite upstate while they deal with their transitional time, too. Every single Christmas decoration I own is in a storage facility in Rochester, in boxes piled 20 feet high, where they can’t be accessed until Spring. I have nowhere to decorate, or anything to decorate with. I don’t have a place where I can cuddle into at night in my flannel Christmas pajamas and wake up at in the morning to stumble out into the living room and sip hot chocolate and watch Rudolph. His place is not my place. My place is not my place. Their place is not my place. And for the last five years all I’ve been aching for is a home.
I’ll wake up Christmas morning this year in a hotel in Rochester. Our first year without a family home in Rochester, I cried at the thought of waking up in a hotel on Christmas and so my parents rented a house. But as the years have passed, and the reality of the situation becomes as familiar as a limp, I have tucked that sadness away until it turned into a tiny pit in the depths of my chest. And it hurts the most this time of year.