I just wanted to get my laundry. I slumped out to the elevator at 1:30 AM and waited in front of a group of people hanging out in the chairs in the lobby on my floor. The doors of the elevator opened to reveal three people sitting on a cart. Two girls, one guy. All completely slap-happy. They talked some nonsense that went like, “OMG COLLEGE WE’RE UP LATE ON A SCHOOLNIGHT.” They laughed and laughed and laughed. We’re loud. Ha ha. We’re so crazy ha ha ha ha ha ha. Two of them proclaimed themselves king and queen of the elevator, the third a princess. I was their servant. “PUSH THE BUTTON FOR THE FIFTH FLOOR, PEASANT,” they yelled at me before I got out. Ha.

I gathered up my clean clothes in the sauna that my dorm has tried to disguise as a laundry room and went back to the elevator. I paused. Hearing the maniacal laughter of their majesties, I turned tail and took the stairs.

It was six flights up to my floor, and by the time I got to the top, I was exhausted and wheezing. I made eye contact with a guy sitting by the elevator, who must’ve been a witness to my torment. He smiled. Getting it, I laughed. “She took the stairs,” he said, giggling. I shrugged and said sorry before hurrying back to my room.

I didn’t dislike the kids who tormented me in the elevator. I don’t even know them. But sometimes you just want some peace.

Friday night I finally got that. I packed up all my shit and headed over to my house—by which I mean my parents’ house. Getting home took about 10 minutes because I got stuck at every traffic light and passed road work. My parents were gone until Saturday, so I would be queen of my own castle for the night. I don’t want to brag, but I do staying at home right. I blared music and lip-synced like my life depended on it and sat on the floor eating pizza and cookies that I made. I covered my face with glitter and tried to figure out how to get the channel that was showing a program called The Dark Side of Dolphins. I drank milk straight from the carton. Being home alone is what I do best. And yet, I felt like an intruder the whole time. I felt weird, like the walls were whispering to me to tell me that I didn’t belong there anymore. I tried to fight them by occupying every room at some point and by generally making a mess, but nothing worked.

Later that night, I went up to my bedroom for the first time since I left for college. I thought that would feel right, but it felt empty and alien. I got in bed and cried until I fell asleep. I dreamed that I was back at my old school again, and woke up more upset than before. It was like every emotion I ever experienced in high school was attacking me all at once. I felt like shit and didn’t know how to stop it.

This is stupid, but I dug up this old throw pillow my mom gave me when I was little and had sleep anxiety. She told me it would absorb all of my nightmares, like a dream-catcher. I sat on my bed and clutched the pillow until I felt better. I tried to let it soak up all of my anxieties. It doesn’t really work anymore. ♦