Saturday, May 5, 2007

No place like home

I'm etching this post onto stone tablets at my parent's house. "Why the stone?" you ask. Because it is actually faster than using their computer. I am in my childhood home for the first time in over 4 months, and it's a little surreal. I am the oldest of 5 children--me, 2 boys, and 2 girls.

My sisters still live here. They share a room on the top floor of this tiny house. Their room looks like Bagdhad would if we had attacked Iraq with Abercrombie clothes. The two of them plan to move out together this summer. As one of them said, "It's not that we like living together so much. It's just that we already share so many clothes, and we don't want to split them up." So, yeah, they're staying together for the sake of the low-rise jeans. Which is, after all, what that crack-pot James Dobson really meant when he talked about family values.

My brothers have both moved out. The 22 year old is living with a bunch of guys. You can follow your nose to their place. That sweet stuff you smell ain't cookies, it's he and his roommates prophylactically treating glaucoma. You can never be too careful with your eyes.

The 25 year old brother is living with his new wife about 20 minutes away. That's about as far away as the two of them will ever get from here. His wife is very into family. It is fascinating to me. It's like when I see people in National Geographic with those huge rings in their lips and think, "Isn't that just a bit much? Wouldn't it be easier to do, well, just about everything, without that thing in?" That's kind of how I feel about spending as much time as she does with her kin. But, it works for her. And I'm all about whatever works for you. As long as your not sticking rings in my lips or making me spend that much time with people I'm related to. The sister-in-law is great, though. You would love her. Sweet, bubbly, kind, good with children and animals, cute, funny, nice to my brother. All that stuff I make a half-assed attempt at being (until the inevitable migraine sets in).

All that said, it's a little weird to be here. Everything that comes out of my mouth sounds ridiculously lame because my internal editor is deleting half the subjects and all the verbs from each sentence that passes my lips. I'm the one these people worry about. The one who may not end up married, may just adopt a kid, and then raise it by herself, when she's like 40, as a single woman, in a big city, in an apartment, without a private yard, far away from her family, surrounded by friends who her family would think are misguided at best, who will help her when she's in a bind, or on call, because she'll be working, full-time. (My mother is having a series of mini strokes as I write this. Even without reading it, she senses the inevitable fall of civilization at the hands of her oldest daughter.)

My family thinks that the woman I just described shouldn't be allowed to take in a stray dog, let alone a stray kid. So, when I'm home, I try to not to mention much about anything I may want to do with any of the rest of my life. As long as we don't talk about that, or anything I'm thinking or feeling now, it all goes very smoothly.


Cheryl said...

So I wonder how you felt about being part of your family when you were growing up. Were you waiting to be old enough so you could leave home? Being a mother who loves her daughter, I hope we'll always have a good relationship. I can't imagine how I'll feel if we don't.

Robyn said...

Yep, that's what it's often like when I visit my family who I love. As long I don't talk about anything I really think about or what I believe in or don't believe in, all goes well. I find I can do that for a few days at a time a few times a year.

Melanie said...

"That sweet stuff you smell ain't cookies, it's he and his roommates prophylactically treating glaucoma. You can never be too careful with your eyes."

Bwahahahaha! I seriously dribbled coffee once I finished blinking and thinking THAT one through.

Best line this month, at least!

Terroni said...

I wasn't one of those teenagers who didn't get along with her parents. I wanted to go away to college, but I wasn't walking around with a chip on my shoulder waiting to leave.

My parents are having a very hard time with the fact that I may make somewhat different life choices than they did, though. We don't fight. And this is not something I can explain to them. So...we just avoid the topic.

It's especially hard right now because I spend a lot of time on the med school thing. The only way to get through that much studying is to keep your eyes on the prize--to think and dream about your future life and career a bit. It's hard for me not to discuss any of that with them and still try to maintain some sort of relationship.

I'm sure it's hard for my parents as well. My friend, J, is my parents' age. She has one daughter. She has told me that it is hard to look at her daughter, who looks just like her, and remember that she is not a mini-J. I think my parents (my mom especially) can't see me without seeing all the things they would do differently if they were me.

Terroni said...

Mel~ I was a little worried no one was going to get that. Glad you enjoyed it.

Robyn~ Always nice to hear from a kindred spirit. People who don't feel this way often look at me like I'm evil when I say I can only do my family in small doses.

Maria said...

I think you sort of described your future self. And you know, I STILL am the one that everyone in my family wonders about. I'm the black sheep, the democrat, the crazy one who doesn't have a problem with illegal immigrants. And of course, the whole lesbo thing makes them just so sure that Liv is going to grow up..."funny." This makes me laugh as their children have jail time, dead beat dad tendencies and major be-mean-and-catty-to-your-mom tendencies.

I say, go stay with your brother at his house and let that sweet smell take you somewhere else for a while. But, know me...I'm the one that they warn you about!

Anonymous said...

I love my family and demonstrate it as such by:

letting my father bore me to tears by talking about pasturization equipment...for hours.

letting my mom bore me to tears by nagging at me endlessly about everything...for hours.

I never stay longer then three days though, 'cause even a wake has to end sooner or later.

ryan said...

i am that outsider as well

they will understand one day!


Sassy Sundry said...

Take a deep breath. You won't be there forever.

Just think, your room doesn't look like Abercrombiedad.

Cheryl said...

Thanks for taking the time for your reply. It helps to understand. Thanks!

Mme Benaut said...

Ah, family! Terroni, you write lovingly about your family even though it can be a trial at times. I think everyone feels like that, partly because your mother's voice is the one that you can't ignore and your father is the one you can't easily contradict even though you generally disagree with what he says - that's my experience anyway. I think you're perfectly normal and life choices sometimes just happen when circumstances don't turn out to be how you intended/hoped they would be.
Once you are a fully fledged M.D. you will have time to think about career/motherhood. You are still young enough to have many forks in the road. When you get a chance to have a look at Adelaide again, you will see me with my sisters, photo taken when I was about 9. I also have a brother, my mother's son from her second marriage. The two youngest girls in the photo were from my father's second marriage. We're all friendly now (except my parents who haven spoken for about 50 years) that we've grown up.
I think that your two younger sisters and brothers are very lucky to have you as their big sister. The first born is always the trailblazer.