running home
by stephanie nieves

As a little girl, I didn’t spend time fantasizing about what I was going to be when I grew up or imagining my wedding day. Instead, I spent hours decorating my dream home in my head. A cozy apartment for one in New York City, I’d adorn the walls with vinyl CDs, the tabletops with overgrown plants, and keep a colorful library of books I’d either loved or half-read. 

 

My living room would have a big window, one I’d stare out of with a cup of jasmine green tea steeping in my hand, and I’d close my eyes to toast lazily under the warm sunlight. I would only open them to admire the specks of dust that would dance lazily in the sunlit air. 

 

My couch would have a fleece throw and my area rug would be speckled with pintuck pillows that my friends and I would sit on when I felt like company. Saturday mornings would be spent lounging in a freshly washed oversized tee watching episodes of Even Stevens, Lizzie McGuire, and The Proud Family in a continuous loop, and my bed would have one too many pillows, I knew that. 

 

As I got older, I visualized marble coasters on my glass coffee table and an assortment of glass-blown bowls that I’d fill with Girl Scout Cookies, Blue Dream, or whatever new sativa strain I could get my hands on. Issues of The Atlantic and Thought Catalog would be spread tastefully across the surface of that table and I’d blast my “Planet Me” playlist and sing way too loud, way too bad, in and out of each room as I smudged them. 

 

When I close my eyes, I’m transported to this world of eucalyptus mint candles, bestselling novels, fruit baskets, and warmth, but when I open them I’m reminded of the space that sits between me and this dream. In the actual four walls that entrap me, I’m reminded that my dream home is a moving target. No matter how close I get, or how far I run, my dream home steps back, refusing to exist anywhere but in my mind. 

 

I’m someone who always wants to be somewhere else, rather than where I actually am, and I’m not proud of that. But maybe that’s why I make homes out of people. Because I’ve taught myself that a real home, my dream home, has legs. And that my place in it is knocking on a door that never opens.