Another thing that made my trip to New York feel like a visit and not a homecoming was the absence of personal space. My uncle moved in with my mother shortly after I left last year, taking over my childhood bedroom. Without a room and shared a bed with my mother. This wasn’t a huge deal, since I often did this as a child and shared my own bed with my children when all three of us lived in a one-bedroom in Corona. But still. As a 36-year-old woman with her bedroom in a house back in East Los, it wasn’t the most appealing option. Most nights I would stay up late in the living room with the television tuned to reality shows until I felt myself nodding off. No bedroom retreat also meant no privacy. Checking in with my paraja and my suddenly defiant teen and the crew of amazing friends who stepped in to mind her, involved moving between rooms constantly for pockets of privacy. The bathroom became the best approximation to a telephone booth. This meant it was also hard to focus on work tasks I still had to handle like prepping and conducting a social media workshop and writing. Bless my uncle, but he is a talker and no silence went uninterrupted.
I wasn’t sad to leave New York. I was anxious to. As soon as I could check in for my flight online, 24 hours before it was scheduled, I called to catch an earlier flight. I happily paid the $75 change flight fee. I kissed my younger daughter, my mom, my sister, my cousin and my uncle goodbye and I headed home.
When the wheels touched down at LAX, a woman across the aisle from me began clapping. I smiled, holding back my own urge to clap.
“People don’t clap when the plane lands anymore, well except when you land in Puerto Rico,” I told her.
“They clap when you land in Honduras too, “ she told me.
I guess you clap whenever you arrive at what feels like home and when I opened the door to my casita on a hill, and saw my teenager and boyfriend I wanted to give Los Angeles a standing ovation.