I suppose I really have gotten used to living alone, or maybe it's just in light of everything that has happened...but I am really enjoying my alone time. And missing it now that I am no longer alone here.

Last night I got a last minute call from someone desperate for a place to stay. So I said okay...I remember my problems in Copenhagen, and it's all about returning those favors.

Well, I have this extra huge double air mattress that my parents brought when they came to visit...that they slept on together...that I've kept here for guests or whatever...that I've occasionally relaxed on or used while watching a movie to recline on. Imagine my surprise this morning when I woke up and found that the whole thing had deflated...I tried adding more air, but it wouldn't work. The guy was also baffled. Then we found the culprit. A tiny hole in the center of the mattress. How did it happen? I mean, the mattress had been full and standing up just a day before against the wall of my apartment.

The guy had nails/screws and other tools in his pocket...they must have slipped out and punctured the mattress. I realize this now, though I was originally completely confused and sorta brushed off the blame on...well, dust in the air, whatever. But no, now I know it's clearly his fault...But I harbor no ill-will towards him for this happening. It's more the fact that all the people who will be coming to visit me...my sister, father, aunt and uncle included...will have no place to sleep. I will offer my bed, but it's only for one person...where will they sleep, the floor? Plus, this mattress cost about the equivalent of 50E. It's not cheap.

But even more...it seems like some sort of metaphorical example of my current family life. That mattress that my parents had brought me, that they had both slept on, is now punctured in the middle...and all the air coming out of it slowly...so that it can't even stand now; it just leans against the wall--dysfunctional, pathetic...

I know it's only a stupid mattress, but then why do I feel like my world is falling apart. I want to cry...

Last night I found a small red notebook that my mother and father brought me when they came to visit...that they decorated into a journal for me. Of course, my mom always wrote the messages from my dad and her...but I can't even stare at the script that says: "For..Dear ****, Love and Best Wishes, From Mom and Dad. Happy 20th Birthday, Oct. 2004. May your year in Paris be memorable and successful," without starting to tear up (in every sense of the word).

Oh yeah, memorable all right. Then I start to remember...

I remember meeting them both at Gare du Nord, I was deathly homesick and so excited to see them. They came out together...tired, but smiling, glad to see me. They were literally all bruised from dragging around an extra suitcase full of things for me all through Europe for the last couple weeks. They brought everything. At another emotional point in my life (though these things are starting to occur more frequently now)...I nearly burst into tears. That's love, I thought.

I remember my dad pulling out tons of cable and a whole satellite dish he'd carried around to try and get me some local television channels on my computer. I remember him working on it the whole evening trying to get it to work...but it wouldn't. Like most things for me here, for him there.

I remember us three squishing into my coffin-sized elevator, my dad playfully squeezing my mom against the wall with his stomach...both of them laughing.

I remember them waking up early and going to get breakfast and preparing it together so that when I woke up I would have something to eat.

I remember us walking throughout Paris...being together, us together, them together...passing my sister on the phone around the room.

I remember them comforting me when I first got to France, taking turns calling me, calling me together...the comfort of my parents, their strength and assurance assuring me.

I remember us taking trips around France, through the Loire Valley, never feeling like I was making the experience worthwhile enough and dreading each moment because it was one moment less with both of them together with me.

I suppose I had good reason to dread.

I remember so much. Too much. I want to stop remembering.

But, despite all these memories, one thing I can't remember at this moment is the last time our entire family was together on a trip, or the last moment I spent at home with my entire family...I don't know. And I won't ever know.

I've been away far too long. And oh what a homecoming I shall have.

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