Dear Diary: Home

May 17, 2024, 1:17 a.m.

Dear Diary combines the intimacy of a diary-like narrative with the writer’s own experiences, little and big, as well as politics and culture.

When you’re on the ground writhing like a child, teary-eyed with limbs cowardly conforming to the position in which you came into this world, there seems to be nothing left for you to do but call for home. 

It’s a little bit like those times your parents took you to adult dinner parties or adult errands or adult cities. 

Look up at them with big eyes. Squeeze the adult skin you see on their adult wrist. 

Bored and whining, you say: Mommy, I want to go home!

Daddy, I want to go home!

I am an adult now, but I still say the same thing. It’s been years. My mouth has never lost familiarity with the shape of those five words– not when I turned eighteen and not when I turned nineteen and most definitely not when I turn twenty. The voice that sings it seems to be the same, too. Saccharine and sickening. An undesirable whimper. But yes– saccharine, sweet– because I think that may be what one needs during nauseating times. These sweet words of a child smother trouble; they keep things simple. They keep me afloat above vicious waters, and despite the subsequent screech-inducing embarrassment at my return to being Baby (a very vulnerable form: oh don’t I scream when boys try to say baby, baby!), I’m glad it does, since I’m pretty sure those waters would not hesitate to glug my wriggling body into the depths of damp, blue-grey desperation. But maybe boys don’t call you baby there. Do they? If they don’t, then that water might not be so bad after all. Would it? 

I want to go home. 

Whisper it, scream it, cry it. Say it with love. Say it with misery. Say it, say it– I say it on barely
vacuumed carpet, polyester duvet covers, and hardwood floors, which all feel the same because they aren’t water and they won’t let me sink. Not that the water would bring me home, but there’s this awful need when you’re feeling like a Baby: to hell with the carpet and covers and floors that are so rigid and unmoving. To hell with all that, because you so desperately need the earth to give up its rules, just for a minute, so that these rock bottoms turn into something that will just let you fall. 

Of course, they will not do that. Of course not. I can only call for home and wish for water, then stop wishing for water and the frightening ease of falling that comes with it, then wish for water again. Over and over. Nausea crashes into fragility until memory arrives, like a parent, to settle the tantrum. 

I want to go home. I want to go home. 

Where is that? Please, pretend that it is family asking. 

Please, answer. 

On one of these days, in the midst of being a Baby on the floor, I was able to answer. A slight settling followed. 

Here: sticky coconut rice, which had lingered on my hands even though I hadn’t eaten any since last summer. I must have held home for a brief moment sometime, somewhere. But that shiny sweetness was gone. I must have dropped home sometime, somewhere. Here: motorcycle exhaust, which is the only smoke I occasionally enjoy inhaling because I miss the tricycles made out of corrugated aluminum and Jobert’s motorbike rides to the coast and brown skin slick with sweat in the palegke. When I smell the same smoke on some street in London, I smile and think of starch and sugar– and that lets me pretend, for a little bit, that home is somewhere near.

Amanda Altarejos '24 is a columnist and desk editor for The Grind. She is majoring in Comparative Literature. Amanda is interested in creative writing, politics, and music.

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