Caught me Ridin' Dirty [Jersey]

Last week, I went back home for the longest amount of time since June 2012, during which my nerves were frayed from the physical (read: booze) turmoil of reunions, the emotional turmoil of graduation, and a sad/bad romance that inordinately shaped those final days. On top of all this was the anxiety of hearing back from HBS as to whether I would, six months after applying for employment, finally get hired.

So going back home this time was a different experience. First of all, it was the first time I'd really come back home, as in to my parents's house--I've been back to the tri-state area 3 or 4 times since moving to Boston, but those visits were to Princeton or New York City. I would have been back at the house the last two weeks of December, but my parents decided to forego the Northeast cold for the sunnier weather (and decrepit crowd) of Florida. Most importantly, the last time I was there, because I didn't have a job, I didn't know how long I'd be staying home. As a result, I couldn't define the nature and terms of my time at home with my parents. I'd say the way they treated me closely resembled how they treated me in high school (disturbingly enough) more than how they treated me when I was home for a week or two during college. My mom would get worked up over my driving after 8 or to any place more than 30 miles away (despite my spotless driving record), my dad making vicious (though empty) threats every time I went to see a friend in New York City or somewhere else that, to his temperamental self, wasn't to his liking at that specific time on that specific day. The finite amount of time of college breaks prevented them from really returning to these old habits of overprotective mothering and fathering. But had I not received the job offer at the end of the month, June would have turned into July, July into August, and so on, and so long as I lacked an actionable exit strategy, my relationship with my parents would regress even further and my ability to get out of the madhouse would be further compromised. 

Yeah, if you've ever met my parents, you probably know that they don't understand the notion of boundaries. 

Anyway, coming home and coming home with a job changed the dynamics of my visit, and for the most part for the better (even if my mother made me change my 7:30AM bus to a 5:10AM train last-minute and, since the T was not yet open, this meant walking a mile in about a foot of snow at 4:30AM. Luckily, I had excellent company.) After a day spent recovering from the late Monday/early Tuesday travel situation, I headed down to Princeton on Wednesday to re-record 'Rollin' in the Deep,' a song that remains as difficult to sing as I remember, for the Wildcats' new CD expected to come out at Reunions (62 days!). Even though I was only down for the day, I managed to deliver homemade thesis cookies to some of my senior friends and visit another beloved friend with whom I got to shoot the breeze over red wine, Chinese food, and NCIS. And I reacquainted myself with the English Gentleman (her English Schnauzer named Chaucer) and had the gray hair on my black shirt to prove it.

The remainder of my time that wasn't spent in the form of maternal bonding was spent in New York City. And if there's one thing I realized after this visit, it's that I am so glad not to be living in New York this year. It smells like urine and sadness most of the time, and I think I'd be inconsolably depressed if I had been located there in my first job out of college. I loved reconnecting with all those whom I visited, especially my poor MM, whom I visited in the confinement of her hotel room as she was in for a conference and dislocated her knee. Still, conversations with some of these city-livin' college friends were unsettling: some of the people I met up with spoke plainly to the effect of, "This place is miserable and I want to get the hell out," but others seemed to be trying to prove to me how happy they were to be in New York City. Perhaps it was an effort to convince themselves of their happiness in the city, trying to cope with or deny their disenchantment with life there. (Cue reference/analysis of HBO's Girls).

All in all, I spent much time reflecting on the past year and got a great deal of perspective during this trip to Jersey. I'm glad I did it, and it was nice to go back to my house. But what really makes me smile is that coming back on the train, I got that "I'm going home feeling" that I haven't felt since my freshman fall of college. For the first time, I felt like home was really here in Boston.