After Monday’s post, you would think that my first trip home would have been my first visit home my freshman year. Yeah, it was a rough one. But at least during that trip, I was welcomed by the family welcoming committee – my aging black lab and the sounds of my mother’s “new age” music.
Unfortunately, my aging black lab eventually went to the large dog park in the sky. I know not everybody is a dog person, but all you dog people out there will understand when I say that my dog meant just as much to me as any sibling. Eventually I got used to calling my mom and not asking how my dog was. My mom still sounded upset when I talked to her, but to be fair, things were a lot different for her. I wasn’t at home hearing the silence of our house without a collar jingling and claws clicking on the wood floor. I was at school where I never had my dog.
And then I went home for break. Now, I was a very independent child so when my mom went back to work, she didn’t arrange for me to go to daycare or have a sitter. It wasn’t abuse or neglect. It made sense. I would only be home alone for thirty or forty minutes before my dad came home and I had a strict set of rules to follow. So in my mind, I had been staying home alone for ten years. The idea of coming back from school while my parents were at work didn’t phase me.
When I got home, I went in through the garage. Even though it had been a month since my dog had died, it still smelled like dog. It was like nothing had changed…until I opened the door to the kitchen and didn’t get barreled over by 100 pounds of dog. Suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was truly home alone for the first time in my life. And what did I do? I cried and called my mom. I asked her to leave her job early and drive an hour to come home so I wouldn’t be home alone.
It’s been almost five years since then. I’ve lived completely alone. I’ve gotten a new dog. Now when I go home, I am once again welcomed by a dog and some sort of crazy music that my mom is listening to (she’s been on a Carrie Underwood kick lately). I actually now look forward to trips home.