Two days ago as I made the bed and negotiated with Nels about making his breakfast and creating a fort (he wanted me to do both, simultanously) my mother’s boyfriend D. walked in the house (like he will) and asked if he could use the phone (like he does). I said, “Absolutely,” and got back to my one hundred million things I was trying to get done (on the list: make kids’ haircut appointments, pick up the silk dress with its $5 repair, drop off organized fabric scraps to the Senior Center thrift shop, pick up tracing medium, get groceries, fuck around in the hardware store for way too long looking for 8/32 bolts and appropriate t-nuts and then miss the consignment shop’s closing time by a few minutes and get all cranky). D. beeped away for a while and finally talked with my mom about something or other and loudly ended the conversation with, “I love you too, sweetie-pie,” and then he drove away and once again I had the house to myself.
I felt a small hit in my gut. Our peaceful past month is about to transform into, once again, the challenge of living with my mother and her goings-on and her boyfriend whom I have mixed feelings for which I address by being polite as I can, inclusive (even when I don’t feel like it), and allowing myself space from the situation. For all I know the guy walks into the house and thinks it is my family that intrudes – intrudes on time with his ladyfriend, or the big warm house with plumbing and electricity (and a phone) and comforts he’d otherwise have a more free enjoyment of. Forgive me, but my time spent in a certain seaport town and watching aged Peter Pan types live off the comfort and material possessions of their paramours while they self-report a more idyllic, simpler lifestyle has made me a bit of a suspicious asshole.
And anyway, I go back and forth on the “shoulds” of our living situation. My mother should have privacy and a place all to herself, right? No wait, this is a 2500 sq. ft. house and it should be lived in by many people who fill it up and love it and clean it and care for it. And the truth is, I really don’t know. In a lot of ways it’s easier (if more expensive) to carve out one’s own space, to live in such a way you can instantly flee when you arent’ getting along – instead of being forced to keep the peace and make the effort. Despite ups and downs living here in the Family Home, the last time my mother and I talked about it she asked us to stay. For now, we’re staying.
This morning Nels is thinking about nothing except his sister’s arrival, imminent. Last night he made Sophie an elaborate “track” out of labeled popsicle sticks leading through the house and to a little offering on the table: a bowl of nuts he painstakingly opened himself, a spooky Halloween ghost craft, a new coffee cup, and a handmade flower card. I am proud of myself I made it two weeks without Sophie and without crying and even while enjoying myself a lot. This weekend the family is reunited for a trip to Port Townsend where Ralph and co. will play a show and an acoustic set at the local record shop; we’ll be joined by many friends, eat great food, dance, and have little time to adjust to our to any kind of foursome normalcy until Sunday.