Homemade Memories by Annie Nishida
Upon graduating high school, I wanted nothing more than to get away from the house in which I grew up, and into NYC, away from everyone I’d ever known. Tbh, I blame Gossip Girl for making the big city look so beautiful and clean, and for portraying disgustingly independent teens whose parents never seemed to be around. Regardless, this was the dream, and it would’ve worked out perfectly, maybe, if I hadn’t been too unmotivated to fill out the Common App. Because of this, I found myself close to home.
Now years later, thanks to my work schedule, twice a week I find myself back at this familiar place, there to raid the fridge of its vegetarian-friendly contents (shredded cheese), fall asleep on the couch to the sweet sound of CNN, and grab old journals of song lyrics from when I thought I’d be the front-woman of an emo band before anybody can find them.
When I see the garage at my house, the same garage with the door that I broke with a basketball when I was athletic, I think of my mom. I was 17, and had just gotten a car. Shortly after, I backed it into my dad’s car in the driveway when my parents were out. I ran inside, left a hundred dollar bill (the only money I had) on the dining room table, turned off the lights in my room, and cried until their return. When my parents got home, I explained what happened, and my mom hugged me and said that she was just glad I wasn’t hurt. She also let me keep the hundred.
When I see my childhood room, the same room that holds my impressive stuffed animal collection and dresser with the top drawer used for storing treasures like Hello Kitty stamps, I think of my mom. I was 13, and my mom’s closet was located in my room. Every morning, she would pick out her outfit for work and turn my TV onto the news, to gently wake me up. (This is the closet I raided a couple years later, when I thought vintage was cool and long, floral-print skirts were the shit.) Every night, she’d say goodnight, and tell me that I was going to strangle myself to death if I fell asleep with earbuds in, listening to My Chemical Romance.
When I see the bathroom, the same pink and green it’s always been with the Bactine in the cabinet that expired in 2003, I think of my mom. I was 12, and had started my period. Equipped with the American Girl Body Book for Girls, I knew what was happening, and where to put things and that my teen angst was happening for a reason. However, I did not know how to break it to my mom. I read and re-read the chapter on how to have the conversation, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead, I hid stained underwear under my bed and wrapped feminine trash in toilet paper a million times before throwing it away. Eventually, I made a rookie mistake and she found out. I got a hug and a million, “let me know if you need anything” type comments. I guess it’s better than getting to college and having her think I still hadn’t gone through puberty.
Finally, when I see the kitchen, the same kitchen with the blinds always open so we can see the three cats that have found sanctuary in our yard, I think of my mom. I was 4, and my sister hit her head on the rice dispenser and bled all over the floor as my mom took care of her while I was hiding in a corner, scared she was going to die. I was 5, and my mom would stand on one side of the room, say, “macaroni and…” and I would run into her arms, singing, “CHEEEEEESE,” because that, was like, our special thing to do. I was a preteen when my mom became obsessed with wanting a breakfast nook in the corner and spent weeks looking for one, and then building it. We never used it, and it’s now its only function is to hold cat food and houseplants.
When I refill my water bottle with free, non-Brita water, and prepare to leave the house, I think of my mom, and how my memories of growing up in this house have been completely shaped by my memories with her, and how they’ve made it damn near impossible to want to leave forever.
In high school, I wanted to be on my own, navigating some form of transit called a “subway” and eating lunch on the steps of The Met. In college, just 20 minutes away from home, I told myself, “Only a couple more years until you can move back,” when I was sad about just having been dropped back off at school after a perfect weekend with my family. Now that I’m a couple years out of school, I find myself somewhere in between—20 miles away, or 35-70 minutes of drive time, based on traffic—far enough away to feel like I’m being grown up, yet close enough for when I want the comfort of my mom’s cooking, only to have her want to pick up food instead. It is at times like these that I’m glad that my mom is so amazing, and that the Common App was such a pain in the ass to fill out.