Song of the Week: Happier When You’re Gone 

Last Thursday I went for a walk. I picked up a rock by the base of the metal staircase beneath Warch, and carried it through the woods. I hummed along to the song in my headphones, stepping gingerly over the packed snow that was gradually freezing into ice. When I made it to the footbridge, I stepped to the railing, and hurtled the rock down onto the layer of ice covering the river as hard as I could. A few small shards flew up, but the ice didn’t break. Instead, the rock skittered halfheartedly a couple feet from impact. I smiled to myself, and kept walking.  

Later that night I had dinner with my friends. One of them taught us a new card game, the name of which I can’t remember. I sat on the couch and watched them dealing, slamming their cards onto the table and sending up roars of laughter. They kept starting a new round, and I kept staying to play again.  

On Friday morning I went for another walk. I followed my friend through the snow covered woods, straining my legs to get up slippery hills, grabbing onto branches to steady myself. At the top of one of the hills, we each wrapped our arms around a tree and pressed our ears to it. A soft thump came through, ringing through the wood like conductive metal. It was soft, reliable, sturdy. I leaned against it, let it hold me. Above, the highest branches would sway and gently knock those of the next tree over. In this way we listened to them speak to each other. 

That afternoon, I spent half an hour trying to figure out how to get the sound to come out of my friend’s computer instead of the projector I have mounted on the ceiling of my room. My roommate usually handles that kind of thing, but he was out of town. That day it was just my friend and I, trying to get the Star Trek theme loud enough before we started the episode. Later after dinner, I followed him into the living room, where we wrapped ourselves in blankets and rested our heads on each other’s shoulders while we finished the two episode story arc.  

I went to my friend’s house that night. They gave me a little box of sea-salt caramel chocolates, and I doodled in red pen on a sticky note. When I was ready, I sat on their couch and we screamed and cried and laughed with each other. When I came home almost three hours later, my roommates were making crepes in the kitchen. They cooked me one and I filled it with peanut butter and honey and cinnamon. I ate it at the counter and listened to them talk about their night. Some jazz song I can’t remember floated gently out of the speaker.  

On Saturday afternoon, I got chills lying alone on the floor of my room. I closed my eyes and spread my arms out wide on my carpet. 

It’s not easy, it’s not easy, homelessness at home.  

On Sunday I watched a movie with my mom. She told me about the interviews she watched with the sound designer and the director. How they only spent two days shooting on a green screen, and the rest of it was incredible real-life sets. I wrapped a blanket around myself and ate a dark chocolate bar. I couldn’t decide if I liked the movie or not, but I kept watching.  

On Monday, I woke up early like I do every week, and I went to the gym. I listened to the new album during my workout, and then I took my Covid test. On the way back, I saw your reflection in the glass, suddenly standing behind me. We looked right past each other. 

My life is bracing for your hug. You pass me to unplug your phone. Hallelujah. 

When I got home I took a long shower. I went to class, and I ate three full meals. That night, I finished the movie with my mom, and I went to my SAASHA meeting like I do every week. I went to sleep early after starting a new book, and just like that, I survived Valentine’s Day.