Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thoughts on being "home"

I am in my parents' house, lying on the bunk bed that my sister and I used to share many years ago, in the room that was once ours, then was just mine, and now is sometimes mine and sometimes a storage room. The floor is littered with my luggage, clean laundry, and discarded formalwear from last night's wedding, plus a few cardboard boxes that didn't get the message that, right now, the room isn't for storage. One of the boxes has a chandelier in it, but not one I've ever seen before. It's odd.

Being in this room causes problems for me. It's dusty; I sneeze all the time, and my eyes run and itch. It's full of things that were mine and had meaning but now aren't and don't. It reminds my body of very unhealthy parts of my life, and so when I'm in it I can't sleep at all and I can't stop eating. I want to tear this room out and make it over again, get rid of everything in it and make it entirely not-mine or entirely mine, not this musty memory of a me that was closeted, depressed, and compulsively peeling the paint off of these walls. At least my parents have had it painted, so that tangible reminder is gone, but the color is the same, and I can still feel the sting under my fingernails from when a sharper chip would get lodged there and draw a little blood.

My father is an ally in laying siege to the fortress of the past. He wants to un-me the room, to make it something else. My mother is a formidable opponent, desperately seeking to change nothing about it, to pretend that I still live in it, that I am still the child she was raising then. That I still need her to take care of me.

I can't win the remodeling fight. As things stand now, I don't have the heart, when she lives with this room daily and I don't, to demand change that would hurt her and only occasionally help me. There is one thing, though, that may give me the energy to take steps: I may need to live in this room again.

I had a long talk with my father today. He isn't doing very well with Mom's illness. She isn't either, of course, but she won't discuss it. Or anything else, for that matter. She goes through her daily routines (crossword, work, shopping at the thrift shop or the historical society, dinner, bed), but she doesn't seem to care much about them. She certainly doesn't care about anything outside of the routine; absolutely nothing sparks her interest, intellectually or emotionally. She doesn't call her friends or answer their emails unless Dad nags her. She doesn't talk to the family. When she's home, all she does is sit and run her fingers endlessly through her hair, sometimes reading, occasionally eating something, but usually just sitting.

If things get worse, if either Mom or Dad just can't handle things, I may be coming back here. I don't have explicit plans to do that. I don't want things to get worse. I would rather not uproot my own life. But I am keeping myself open to the possibility of this little green box being my room again, for at least a few months. If that happens, and again that's a big if, I am going to do something about the way the room makes me feel and behave. Starting with getting rid of this damn bunk bed. I mean, really, who has a bunk bed anymore?


Alexandra said...

Hugs! Hope you're ok. Call me anytime if you need to. (I'll email you the number here.) Love you.

Zarah said...

oh man. i'm thinking about you and your family. call me if you wanna hang out once you get back.

Leila said...

unless you object, i'm taking you for tea when i pick you up tomorrow.

love you.

Gray said...

Uff da, my friend. That's rough. Best thoughts (and prayers, if you want them) to you and your family, and we definitely need some quality time once we're both in the same city.

Let me know if there's anything I can do, or any magical midwestern juju I can import for you.

Jason said...

Awww, such a tough situation =/ I'm sorry to hear about your mom . . . best of luck with everything, Sam