Home Is Where The Heart Is
Home Is Where The Heart Is7 mins 485 7 mins 485
Going to college is supposed to bring with it feelings of joy and excitement. It’s a whole another world that awaits you and the time spent there is supposed to be the most fun part of your whole life. That’s what I’ve been told my whole life and well, I suppose it’s true. Maybe just not for me.
Everytime I close my eyes, I’m taken back to the last day of high school. Naturally, the air was heavy with emotion and everyone was running back and forth, notebook in hand, exchanging thoughts about the other person in writing. The classroom was filled with giggles and a smile plastered on everyone’s face which did little to hide the heavy heart that everyone nursed, on the verge of pouring out and spilling all over the school building, engulfing it in a wave of emotion. Needless to say, there was a lot of movement inside our good old classroom of two years.
I could picture exactly how I thought I looked - an awkward smile, slightly raised eyebrows, eyes searching around the room. The smile was awkward because of the weight of all the things left unsaid and the eyebrows were raised in anticipation of a calming, familiar sight. Through the chaos, I spotted him, the embodiment of tranquility within the chaos that surrounded us. I smiled internally at a face that reflected exactly how I felt. We locked eyes across different corners of the room, oblivious to the rest of the world. After one long, good look, we inhaled sharply simultaneously, pursed our lips and slowly began to look the way, exhaling deeply- eyes reflecting a kind of sadness that meant only one thing - the end of something that never even began.
I didn’t need to ask him whether he liked me or not. It was clear to me, perhaps to both of us, with every prolonged gaze that we shared, just how much in love we were. We’d been in the same school since kindergarten and it was somewhere around sixth grade that we started noticing each other again. He was extremely popular and outgoing, whereas I hung out with a certain group of friends, although I got along with just about everyone. He always seemed to be a world away from me initially and my introvertism kept me from ever talking to him. I often thought that he’d been looking at me whenever I would look for him, but always credited that to my imagination. By twelfth grade, however, it became apparent that I wasn’t in fact, imagining this. Sometimes, I would look in his eyes and the rest of the world would blur out till he was all that I would see, and my heart would ache to see him again the moment I looked away. I resented myself for things being that way, and yet did nothing about it. We were both focused on getting into good colleges, so I thought that this was the right thing to do, and ignored what the heart ached for. No one else knew about this. This would either be a silly, embarrassing story we would tell people in the future and laugh about, or perhaps a secret that we would take to the grave.
The memory of the last day is etched in my mind, undisturbed and ever-ready to pop in my mind in the most unusual moments, to make my emotions get to me and give me second thoughts. I supposed that was just as well and decided to get myself hyped up for college - different than the one he was going to. We would be in the opposite parts of the country and I was trying to come to terms with him. All throughout high school, I had wanted to talk to him - just wanted to connect to him and maybe, if I could, share a laugh or two. It annoys me a bit how happy something so simple would have made me, and how that would never happen. I would probably never see him again.
5 years later..
‘I regret this already’, I said through gritted teeth at Priya, my best friend, who simply rolled her eyes and dragged me inside. We were at a popular bar and I was wearing a black dress that I believed was too short for me but Priya had convinced me otherwise. I hadn’t been out in a very long time, and was honestly just not a fan. This was her thing, not mine. I made my way towards the bar and ordered some whiskey in order to loosen up, and watched as Priya danced in the crowd, a guy already beside her. ‘Man, she is good at this’, I thought as I adjusted the round glasses on my nose.
The music changed and a new song started to play. I immediately froze and put down my drink as I recognized this being played on our school farewell. I am ashamed to admit that I was still not over him. I still dreamt about him every other night, but went on nonetheless. Slowly, I decided that I was being silly, especially after it had been so long and resumed to drink. I scanned the seats and spotted Priya with the guy in the corner and shot her a thumbs-up, to which she winked.
As I slowly shifted my gaze sideways, I spotted a familiar pair of eyes - too familiar, in fact. It was him. He was looking at me in shock, mouth slightly hanging, and as soon as I looked at him, a rush of emotions went through my body and we sat there, frozen for what seemed like an eternity. Then I quickly got up and rushed towards his seat, and right out of the door that was behind him. It was already dark outside and the wind felt cold against my face.
I breathed deeply as tears started to roll down my cheeks. I called a cab and texted Priya that I was leaving. The door opened behind me and I knew that it was him without even having to look.
I slowly turned around to look at him and was surprised to see glassy eyes staring back into mine.
‘Rohan? How are you?’, I said, trying to play dumb.
‘I-I’m okay, I guess. I really need to talk to you about something’, he said, voice quivering slightly.
Happiness surged through me, quickly followed by a deep sense of gloom, for I realised that I couldn’t talk to him now. He’d probably leave for his city soon, and I would never be able to recover. I was torn apart, but decided to be brave.
‘I can’t, Rohan. I have to go’, gesturing towards the cab, I said in-between tears.
‘But..I really..Can I at least have your number?’, he asked, his eyes pleading me to oblige.
I gave him my number and told him that there was an emergency at home.
Yet again, I cried myself to sleep that night and hated myself for what I did. This was the same as back then. Doing the right thing, feeling bad about it and regretting it for the days to come.
I woke up the next morning, checked in with Priya and ignored three calls from a number that had to be Rohan’s and went to work.
The next week, Priya told me something that made me freeze in my tracks as I jogged in the park. She told me how Rohan from school had moved here. It was the same Rohan whose calls I had avoided for a week and who had stopped calling now.
I slapped my forehead and quickly dialled his number. We agreed to meet in the park the next day.
I apologised to him as soon as we met and he said he didn’t mind, just as I had expected him to say. I bought him a pocket watch to make up for it. I knew he was fond of them. He blushed as I handed it to him and he thanked me. Soon after, I confessed to him and so did he. We talked about high school and how we were each other’s first love. He had always thought that I was out of his league, with my witty sense of humour and shy nature. But later, he too realised that we were in love and that he thought of me every day as well. He had just moved here with a new job and said that he felt like he couldn’t afford to lose me again that night at the club.
Sitting there in the moonlight, holding his hands felt right. For the first time in my life, doing something right felt good. Being there with him felt warm, incredible and slightly surreal. It was when we sealed the moment with a kiss that it finally felt like home.