Creating a Home

It is no secret – or at least I don’t mean it to be – that I am a depressed and anxious pile of goo. A pile of goo with worth and meaning, but, nonetheless, a pile of goo.

Short back story for some context for this week’s post:

It was 2014 and I was a freshman in my second semester of college at BYU-Idaho. BYU-Idaho is a forsaken wasteland in the middle of nowhere with weirdly morphed Mormon cultural norms. Like, that place is straight up Pleasantville IRL. I lived in a nice little apartment complex called, Kensington Manor. It had cameras which tracked what times people came and went from your apartment, (yes, I am completely serious), and I had moved there from another apartment complex after Winter break. My first semester had been a mess of roommate pettiness and girls too busy picking on freshmen to graduate on time. I had begged my father not to make me go back to school. I had hated my classes, my roommate situation, and the city I was living in; October-December had been spent on my bed watching Flashpoint and Criminal Minds until I fell asleep and I hadn’t really talked to anyone since leaving for school in September.

I was ready for some friends.

I remember the first night at my new place.

I liked the aesthetic already more than I did my last place. It was homier, and less shabby-chic IKEA. The first night there I was alone. I didn’t know any of my roommates and was apparently the first one back from break. I put away my clothes in my closet, made my bed with my still semi-new bed and bedsheets, and watched Flashpoint until my eyes dragged me to sleep.

The second night, my new roommate arrived. Let’s call her, Shelly.

                Shelly’s dad was dropping her off. And I watched awkwardly from the kitchen as I ate my quesadilla and she hugged her dad goodbye. She said nothing, but her stiff upper lip was apparent from the way she hid her face ever so slightly, walking from the front door to the back where our room was. I watched Flashpoint for another few hours and then I made my way to my bed. The room was dark, but I knew that she was awake, and her breathing indicated that her face was most likely wet with slow tears. I was thrown back to the semester before where my own roommates had criticized me for my easy tears, calling me weak and overemotional.

“Hey, it’s ok to cry. I don’t mind.”

Her voice was shaky, “Thank you.”

“Mhm, goodnight.”

It was the simple start to a friendship I was more grateful for than ever. She, along with another roommate, we’ll call her Ella, and I became the three musketeers. We went and did everything together. I felt like I had a place, like I had people, and my Netflix account eventually stopped reminding me that new episodes of Flashpoint were now available.

January and February were blissful. March rolled along, and we continued to be three.

Okay, typing this out I am getting tired of my own story and I don’t think we need details for this backstory besides the text group I came across by accident in mid-March.

Title of Group Chat: Her

March 2, 2014 6:48pm

Roommate 1: Ugh, she’s talking to her mom again. Can she be any more clingy?

Roommate 2: No kidding, she is probably talking smack about us to her.

Shelly: Probably. She thinks she is so good.

Ella: GO HOME ALREADY DANIELA.

March 3, 2014 7:50am

Roommate 3: Guys, I am pretty sure she has class until 12. We should go to lunch and if we leave before then we won’t have to take her.

Shelly: Deal.

11:35am

Ella: Guysssssss she got out earlier and is home.

Roommate 2: Shoot, im sorry dudes, she asked what we were all getting ready for and I told her we are all going to lunch. SORRY

Shelly: No, it’s my fault. If I hadn’t needed to straighten my hair we could have left earlier and probably would have missed her.

12:13pm

Roommate 1: Guys, I am pretty sure she copied what I ordered. Does she like, just have to do everything we do?!

Ella: Ok, the guy she is talking about right now, I told him she likes him and he says he thinks shes really annoying.

Shelly: Well he’s right.

March 5, 2018 3:09pm

Ella: Did you see her status?!

Roommate 2: You mean “Missing my peeps back home so much! Can’t wait to be home and see you!”?

Shelly: LOL

Ella: I can’t wait for her to go home TOO

Roommate 3: lol does she think we want her here

Shelly: Maybe we should just not talk to her, like, ever.

Ella: Dude, yes!

Roommate 3: She is always asking me questions about school and my family and stuff, im like, this isn’t a freaking interview!

Ella: Ok, so we are in agreeance? Just pretend like she isn’t there??

Roommate 1: rofl this is going to be so funny

The rest of March I watched Grey’s Anatomy and ate quesadillas. I worked out everyday and cleaned the kitchen. By myself, I prepared my application for an LDS mission. I didn’t ever see the ongoing conversation, but, whatever it was, they designed my life in our apartment through it. I would walk in on conversations I knew were about me, they would throw things away or turn off the TV when I was watching a movie.

I left Rexburg, and I swore I wouldn’t come back.

But, I left a lot there.

I left any hope of a lifelong friend.

I left a lot of apologies there; it was my fault, it was me after all.

I left any idea of being loved or being lovable.

I left all shred of self confidence.

I left, without saying goodbye, with trust issues, and a dampened personality who broke in slow tears when someone spoke with kindness toward me.

It was rough guys.

But sadly it was also just a repeat of elementary school, middle school, and high school.

Kensington 2014 is the reason I applied again to BYU during my mission. I refused to ever go back, especially after learning that there were people who found me lovable and I was loved. But, again, I left a lot there and I am still working on collecting them back through other means.

Jump forward to now.

2018 in Provo. My roommates are my best friends. They are kind. They are good. They find me lovable.

But,

that doesn’t change the fact that I left some things in Rexburg.

Like the fact that those who love you aren’t lying and when you leave the room they aren’t talking.

It just took 3 words. 3 words to get me to snap back and bring those things back to Provo.

They threw me back to being alone, and feeling at fault for alienated all around me.

I retreated to my bed and began to cry, and the crying mixed with fear and I started to gasp, and the gasping mixed with despair and I lost control.

Two hours later I was still gasping. My roommates attempting everything to make me forget those things.

I eventually fell asleep, but the next morning I got up and I made the most logical decision I could have in that moment: I am getting a dog.

So, I did.

I hitched a ride with a friend down to St. George where I sat on warm cement amongst 5 little puppies. I picked out the one with soft brown fur, curly, ears, and a pleasant, sweet demeanor.

One week later, after a legal battle through email with my landlord, I met a stranger in Fillmore, a halfway point between St. George and Provo, in a Maverick Gas Station parking lot. I gave her a wad of cash and she gave me the lil’ pup that would prove to be my balm and companion.

I dubbed him, Phineas.

I don’t know why. It is not Phineas and Ferb or even Phineas Black or P. T. Barnum, it’s just Phineas.

Since then he has been a literal light in my life. The stars aligned for me to get him, and now I am starting to understand why. He is always there and he depends on me. He wants me to teach him and talk and snuggle with him. He wants me there and he is sad when he isn’t. No moving, or marrying, or having children, or graduating.

When my foot shakes uncontrollably he puts his head on my foot and goes to sleep, and in the mornings he stays by my side until I can haul myself out of bed. He fills the empty and lonely spaces in my heart.

My therapist said I am creating my own ‘unit’. As I enter into an age where people are graduating, and marrying, and babying, and moving, I am creating my home. This goofy dog with pretty green eyes is my first addition to my ‘unit’ and honestly, I can’t think of a creature, human or animal, to get me started.

He is mine and I am his and even though, with all those people I love gone and moving on with their lives), we are a home.

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