I'm staying in the house I grew up in this weekend.

I've been away off and on for a few years now what with school and other things -- at the moment I'm living a good hour from here because of work, but I had some business in the city this weekend and, rather than commuting down Route 1 I decided to stay here.

My family is away -- they've all packed up and gone on vacation so I'm here alone. My dad's car haunts the driveway because they all took the van. Other than that there's not a damn sign of life.

For some reason I decided to go in the backyard -- I haven't really been back there since my childhood where I used to play. Half of it is weeds now -- or at least more of it is overgrown than I remember. You can barely walk down one side of the house for overgrown vegetation.

I stood back there for a moment, looked at the swing hanging from the big Norway Maple that my father and I made. Then I walked back around the other side, and saw the tree.

It's a tiny little thing -- chinese maple I think but I'm not sure. Beautiful red foliage all year round. And I hadn't stopped to look at it, hadn't touched it, hadn't noticed it since I left elementary school -- freshman year of high school at the absolute latest.

It's so much smaller than I remember. I used to climb up in its fragile branches and sit, it was an adventure. I almost did now, but for my nosy neighbor. A small tire swing hangs from this one -- definitely not one that would support me -- and a hammock far too short for my six feet.

I don't suppose any of you care, but I felt the burning need to tell someone about this tree -- about this magical symbol of my childhood that had been sitting a few feet away from me all evening, is sitting a few feet away from me now, and that I had not seen, not truly anyway, since I was twelve.

My parents are cool people. I really can't complain about being at 'home', my childhood home, for the holidays. But the problem is, it isnt my home anymore. Every time i come home i expect it to be like when i left. It isn't. Every time I'm back in LA the sky is a little browner, the hills are a little more infested with clone houses. The neighborhood my parents live in is a little island surrounded by urban decay. It won't hold out forever. The oak tree i planted before i left is growing well - last year it started making acorns, and it's at least 12 feet tall now. It's beautiful but I know if my parents move out the next person to live here will probably mistreat it. My few friends here are either gone, or so different that I don't understand them anymore. Or more likely, I'm too different. They can't accept me like this.

It wasnt so bad until my girlfriend left to go back to work. Now i'm just alone. I find myself drinking my parents alcohol, moding, and listening to Less than Jake. I never drank in high school, but i sure make up for it now. I'm not used to being lonely.. but when i lived here i was. It reminds me a little too much of when i lived here - when i WAS alone. Now I have a life i can't complain about.. but it's 400 miles away. Tomorrow i will go back to my college apartment. Tomorrow I will go home. This isn't my home anymore. Visiting my parents is always good but this place doesnt mean anything anymore.

There's something to be said for coming home. You roll into the house with the big suitcase, and everything is just the way it was left. The mail is still on the counter, and the coats are still on their hangers. The chair is still in front of the computer, and all of the files are still there, in their hierarchical messes.

It's sometimes a bit of a nonplus, to realize that nothing has caught fire, no pipes have burst, no floors have collapsed while you have been gone. Contrary to nearly everything else in the world, a home that is left alone while somebody is absent doesn't like to change itself very much at all.

You settle back in, and for a while, and it can feel like coming home for the first time all over again. The soul, as William Gibson correctly notes, travels slower than the traveler. When it's being reeled back into home, however, the effects become different than catching up to somebody away from home; for a short while, the pressures and duties that being at home usually carry are absent. Coming home can make home feel more like itself than being there. It makes life sweeter, but also crueler, a sine curve that puckers and shapes life into the form that it should be in.

Emily is waiting in the campus doctor's surgery, kicking her leg up and down. She is nervous.

Her phone buzzes angrily, demanding attention. She reads the message.

"When are you coming home?" It's from David.

"I'm just at the doctor's," she texts back. "I'll be home in half an hour."

David does not know why she is at the doctor's, nor does he bother to ask. He is probably playing some mindless 90s computer game in his college bedroom, eating ramen and drinking tea. It is the middle of the day. Nobody else knows where Emily is.

Half an hour later, Emily knocks on David's door. He lets her in, and she sits down on the end of his bed. Dubstep music is playing. He goes to sit back down at his computer, but Emily tells him to close the door.

"Why?" he says. She tells him to just do it, for God's sake. He asks what's wrong.

"I've had a miscarriage," she says, quietly. That gets his attention.

"Oh," says David, softly. A pause. "Are you OK?"

"I'm fine," says Emily, and she cries a little into his shoulder.

"You're not fine," David says, and he doesn't know what else to say or do. He knew that she had been pregnant, and that she had been planning on having a termination, and then when her period came he assumed it meant that she'd made the whole thing up. He also knew that had she been pregnant he would have gone along with anything she wanted and that he was lucky to be with someone who could sort these things out with very little fuss. He lets Emily cry a little while longer and then they walk into town together and do not discuss the matter further.

The following evening, Emily gets very drunk and David breaks up with her because he is a coward and because he doesn't feel the same way about her as she does. She loves him, and she needs him now more than ever, and he knows that, but he is not her father for crying out loud and he needs some space to go away and think about what has happened. He doesn't want to look after her because even the sight of her sickens him. He does not know why.

Emily does not tell anyone what has happened because she is too ashamed. She simply accepts the events, or what she remembers of them, allows herself a few days off studying for finals, and takes medicine for the stomach cramps.

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