Home Again

Thanksgiving day marks over eight months at home. 254 days to be precise. I have spent more time at home over the course of the pandemic than all my time combined in the three and a half years prior to that. Moving home at the start of the pandemic felt like a large step backward, a betrayal of sorts. Though I was still paying for my apartment across the country, I decided that it was best for me to return to the safety of being back under the same roof as my immediate family. During this unexpected time, I have gotten to know the people my younger siblings have grown up to be in the years since I moved away. In the spirit of the season of reflection and giving thanks as the year from hell nears its end (hopefully), I am extremely grateful for my family and the time the pandemic has allowed me to spend with them. 

I am fortunate that I have always been very close with my siblings. Each of us is separated by  two or three years in age. However, I have always felt much closer to my siblings closest to me in age — my brother who is three years my senior, the eldest in the family, and my sister who is two years younger than me. I grew up sharing a room with my sister until I was 14. Having moved out over four years ago, I no longer have a room of my own at home because as soon as I left, my younger sister took it over. During my first two months back at home, I was back to sharing a room again, but this time with the baby of the family who is eleven years old. As I would fight slumber in the late hours of the night trying to finish homework, she would often be wide awake writing her own book that is now many chapters long. I would usually be the one to ask if we could turn out the light. 

The past months have shown me the pre-teen she has become. Dramatic and often moody, she always has a story to tell. Whether it is one of her imaginary worlds she writes about and illustrates, or drama that happened within her group of neighborhood friends, she always has something to share. Though I do not know what it is like to have your own child, this is the closest thing I can imagine. I vividly remember visiting her at the hospital just after she was born and holding her for the first time. On November 24, she celebrated her twelfth birthday. 

I was also able to celebrate both my younger brothers' birthdays in July. The way they have grown up has been even more difficult to come to terms with. The older of the two is a senior in high school and got his driver's license recently. He is applying for colleges and I have continued to hold out hope that he will choose a school in California so that I won't have to get on a plane to see family. He has always been quiet in social settings allowing him to observe and obtain the most minute details to recount to us around the dinner table. A witty comedian with delivery that often borders bluntness, his age has only added to the vocabulary used in his descriptions. 

The younger one is a sophomore. He is in his first relationship. He is always walking around in his AirPods and I have learned that we have similar taste in music. The other day, I told him that one day we will go to a Tame Impala concert together. He has always been sweet, though not as obviously so at fifteen as when he was five, he has baked countless recipes for the family over quarantine. His signature, "No problem," he always responds to my "Thanks bud," never fails to make me smile. One of my favorite parts of the day is when I am sitting in the living room doing my homework and he returns home from school and tells me about his day. I have learned that both my younger brothers are more likely to share with you if you let them come to you and offer information on their own. 

Being home also allowed me to experience their high school soccer season for the first time. Seeing them on the field together caused me to feel many things. What I felt most was disbelief, wondering where the time had gone. My little brothers are not little anymore and I am so thankful that I have had the opportunity to get to know the young men they continue to grow into every day.

Though I have made the decision to return to San Francisco next semester, there are so many things that I will miss about living with my siblings. I will miss sitting with my brothers in the living room as we all do our homework at 11 pm on a school night. I will miss sitting next to my little sister at the kitchen table as I drink my morning coffee and she eats her breakfast and watches "That So Raven." I will miss laughing over anything and everything with my family after a good meal. The uncertainty and stress of the pandemic has been overwhelming, but my family has been everything I could ask for in getting through this time. It has been a long time since I was able to step outside my San Francisco apartment to live my independent, adult life. But much longer than those eight months were the years since I had been able to spend an extended amount of time with my siblings. Pandemic or not, I am very thankful for home, something that means being surrounded by some of my favorite people in the world.