You moved out exactly a year ago and it’s the first time you’ve gone visiting since then. Your cousin who took over the house cajoled you several times to pay her a visit but between work and every other hustle, you were just not able to find the time to. Or at least, that’s what you told yourself.
Now tonight, as you step in there for the very first time in 12 months, you feel the assault on your mind as the memories come flooding back. Right from the doorstep. Every single corner of the house holds a memory. The living room, your bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen… everywhere significantly reminds you of him and in a matter of seconds, you find yourself falling back and crashing through time, roughly landing in memories you thought had been discarded forever.
The couch in the living room reminds you of weekends spent cuddling in front of the TV as you watched episode after episode of your favourite shows. Arrow, House of Cards, Breaking Bad…
You shut your eyes as you walk into your bedroom- rather, your former bedroom and there are flashes of you both wriggling on the bed, bodies moving in perfect rhythm to music emanating from your souls. You see dimly lit candles surrounding your small bed and rose petals littered on the floor. You shut the door behind you and cover your eyes with both hands, willing the images to vanish but they don’t. They become even more alive and you can smell his sweat in that instant.
You forcefully open your eyes and slowly walk out of the room. You stop by the dispenser close to the kitchen and as you fill your glass with water, you hear him hiccupping and asking for some water. You see yourself filling the glass up and taking several gulps before handing it to him, all the while laughing like a mischievous three year old at an amusement park.
Then you realize that you can’t hold the glass still because your hands are shaking and you walk into the kitchen where you see him standing over your shoulder as you prepare his favorite meal of fried yams and vegetable sauce.
The entire house is a memory palace. Every corner holds something tangible and significant, it is almost too surreal. You remember countless arguments with him yelling and you calmly pacifying him. You remember hushing him with kisses when you sensed a fight brewing, you remember decent massages after long, busy days at work. You remember a lot of things you coulda sworn you’d forgotten forever.
At this point, you realize you can’t even fight the memories and so you surrender to a fight you lost even before it started and you let the memories make their way back home with no inhibitions. They are so much and you just open your heart up to them.
Like how he’d lean on the bathroom frame while you did your laundry. How he would help slice the ugwu as you prepared your special Egusi soup. You remember the one time you took really ill and were home alone. If he had not showed up that day, you probably would have died. But he did and even as your eyes fluttered open and shut, you saw the look of panic in his eyes as he lifted you carefully and rushed you into his car and straight to a hospital.
You remember how the relationship ended. It was quite far away from the house. Out of town even. But you had to come back to that house when it was over. You remember how you were brave for three days before finally giving in to the hurt and sinking to the floor of your living room with your back to the kitchen door. You remember crying your eyes and your heart out on that floor. And then you remember taking the decision to move and leave it all behind. The house, the memories, even the city.
It’s your first time back and it’s amazing how you suddenly remember everything with such startling clarity. You sigh and then you pick up your phone to text him. You have not communicated with each other in such a long time. Of course, he’s the ex for a reason. You’re not sure you miss him. You think you do, but you’re honestly not sure. Perhaps, it’s just being back at the house for the first time. You’re uncertain what you feel but you think you should text him.
So you unlock your iPhone and find his name in your contacts. You begin to compose a text and immediately, you stop and ask yourself. “What is the point?” What are you even going to say in the text? “Hey, I’m at my old place and it’s filled with memories of you?” Right.
You slide the phone back on the center table, walk into the bedroom and shut the door. You’re only here for a couple of nights. Surely you can get through them without doing something stupid.