Last night I tried to enter the room I’d been occupying for a year only to find the door locked. It wasn’t so that morning, when I signed the clearance form and returned the key. Why lock it? the caretaker had said. The room was empty but for two bed frames. Nothing filled the wall-bound shelves and cabinets but a week’s worth of gathering dust. So when I passed by the campus after work that evening, I strode into the dorm as if I still lived there, climbed up the stairs, and walked to the door at the end of the corridor. I only wanted to turn the knob and close the door behind me, to draw the curtains aside and unshutter the windows, to sit for a while in silence on the floor. But I couldn’t even get in. So I walked back out of the girls’ wing and down the stairs, changed into drifit clothes and rubber shoes in the washroom for guests, left my bag with the guard and jogged out of the dorm and ran and ran and ran.
These days I live out of a suitcase and boxes scattered on the floor of my old room in my parents’ house. My clothes and books are strewn on the bed, while my shoes are stowed in an orange pail by the door. At night, I sleep on one of the couches in the living room downstairs. I get dressed in front of the mirror in the second-floor hall.
I hadn’t lived here in three years. I usually came to visit on weekends, of course, but it isn’t the same.
When I get back from work late at night, I find the gate barred and double-locked (as we were told to do when everyone had arrived home), and I have to stand outside, listening to the dog barking, waiting for someone to let me in.
Moving into another town has added two rides to my daily commute to work, and about an hour and a half of travel time, which I spend napping in the FX, earphones plugged into my ears as defense against inane chatter or cheesy tunes from the radio. I don’t know why it feels so tiring to sit still through suspended time as the vehicle coasts—or in traffic, inches—through the highway. I don’t know why I cannot get used to the frustration of standing by the road, on a concrete island, staring at headlights, trying to read the signs on jeepney windows, waiting for the ride that will take me home.
I think that I am okay until my mind goes idling long enough for memories to crawl into consciousness from some cordoned-off bend in my brain and make me realize that I am not. Months after the facts, I still remember dates and words said and how the weather was back then. I remember places. I was kissed in that dark, deserted street, held under that tin roof by orange lamplight. By that field I listened to 80s Brit music in his car as he told me lies and I refused to even look at him. On that wooden table in the yard I sat staring blankly across the road until midnight, asking myself why and what-the-fuck, over and over.
I wonder if “okay” is a destination I can reach. A place that, once arrived at, I do not have to leave. A house that won’t let any wolves in.
I’ve been feeling strangely desireless this past week. I have no appetite; I eat breakfast to get through the day and hardly anything else, and yet I do not feel hungry. I sleep late and little and fitfully, and take hours to get up. It feels difficult to give a fuck about anything.
Sometimes the problem with knowing that you are leaving and when is that waiting becomes such a chore. You count down the days and hours to departure as everything else fades into white noise. You focus on the door and the date when you can finally walk out of it. You do not wonder if you’d look back.
A sense of languor pervades the too-hot atmosphere, and I float in it, drifting, drifting, and not getting anywhere. My mind is always Somewhere Else, because Here is a place I’d rather not be in Now. These days blur into each other. I remember tears but I do not remember what for.