July 27th, 2013, 2:00 AM

Yet another long road trip done. Yet another long drive home completed. I pull into the driveway and grab my suitcases from the truck. I head on up to the porch -and unlock the door. And as soon as I walk in the house it hits me:

This is no longer my home.

It's been nearly eight months since the house became mine and mine alone, and it's the exact same amount of suck this week as it was the first. I walk past the sink full of weeks-old dirty dishes (which really aren't that dirty, because all I used them for was making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches) and past the kitchen island stacked high with clean but unfolded laundry, into the living room.  

That's where I sleep now. My guest bed mattress sits in the floor, butting against the couch on the long end and the love seat on the short. My pillows and blankets and sheets are strewn about.

I sigh. The sheets need to be changed. I don't sigh because I have to change them. I sigh because this means going upstairs.

I hate upstairs. 

You see, shortly before we began having trouble, my ex-wife and I completely redesigned the downstairs. So while it was "our" home, it underwent drastic change just before I ended up living here alone. So it's somewhat safe to be downstairs. When I'm not out on the road, that's where I live. 

But upstairs? That's a completely different matter.

Screws are still all over the walls where our pictures once hung. Every room upstairs has been abandoned, relegated to storing all of the memories we once shared. We spent the vast majority of our time upstairs. We slept in our bedroom. We hung out in our "entertainment" room. I worked in my office. We fostered cats in one of the spare rooms, and the other we stored whatever we didn't really feel like putting in the attic.

There are so many memories in the walls of each and every room upstairs. They float through the closed doors like apparitions. I don't need to walk in to know what I'm going to be reminded of. Each room's layout is burned into my brain. 

But alas, the sheets must be fetched. 

I walk up the stairs and the smell of familiarity hits me. It even smells like it used to. I don't even make it half way to the hall closet before I lose my shit and start choking back tears. 

Why oh why didn't I think to just bring down all the sheets from this stupid closet and store them downstairs?!? Oh, right, because it only occurred to me a few weeks before to actually move my mattress down there. I don't have to sleep on the couch. There's a bed with no history and no memories I could use.

I grab the sheets and head back downstairs. I make the bed and I lay there, listening to music because I keep it on 24/7. I cannot stand coming home to silence. Despite being exhausted from another week on the road, I can't sleep. 

So I write.

It's all I've got.