My Life on a Couch: 1st Edition
by Em Bowen
From where I sit on my borrowed couch bed right now, I can see most things I own and use on a daily basis. My life and my clothes and my books are all in paper bags. Three, to be exact, with a fourth for dirty laundry that I will clean at my Mom’s house on my way home from camping this weekend. The rest is tucked into a mix of falling apart cardboard and plastic storage bins at my Dad’s manufactured home out on acres in Sahuarita. I got it there by car. My life easily fits in my car. I just turned 27.
After a life shift—the ending of a major relationship—I decided that I’ll stop trying to land. For years of my life, if not its entirety, I’ve been looking for responsibility. For furniture. For a love in the romantic sense. For enough hangers for my dress shirts. For a “job” that pays me well enough to build something in one place. I’ve slept on people’s couches before; or their basements on a gym mat, or in a dining room with sheets for doors, in Portland, when I was 21. It was right after college and I thought “this is temporary and a 2-3 time thing.” It felt that way. But here I am again.
When I told my friend who is a therapist in Sacramento that I was sleeping on another friend’s couch and that I had no plans to find my own place for a whole year, she said “What an interesting journey. You should write about it.” I guess, in its own way, or in a way I had not yet considered—it is a a journey. Even it if it feels sort of cyclical.
Where I am now is like the drier, more southwestern version of the same place I was at 21. Drier in many a sense. And that’s all an oversimplification. I’m not who I was then. For one, I’m not trying to be anywhere else and time feels shorter now. Like I no longer want to puzzle over things I never said out loud. I’d just rather say them. That’s vague. Home is inside me? Too cliche. The truth is that I’m still trying to understand what it means to lean on people and maybe for the first time acknowledging that it’s okay to do so.