The Mom’s house has always had a revolving door. Honestly, since we moved in there were always extra people kicking about. For a while, it was most of Crazy D’s band, spending weekends and some weeknights in the basement, playing their hearts out, or just fiddling about with the electricity.
Then, towards the end of high school, it was one of my good friends who moved in whilst her parents wrapped up their ugly divorce. One of my other friends was frequently kicked out of his house for being aggressively weird, and he was often to be found in the ‘coffin’ in my room – I had for a time what is called a trundle bed, so instead of having storage for clothes and linens under the bed, I had a whole other bed. I realise most mothers wouldn’t let their teenage daughter invite her slightly unhinged guy friend over for sleepovers, but if you knew the guy – he was completely straight edge, no drinking, drugs, smoking, vegan – you’d realise the only thing that needed to be worried about was me losing my patience. He was so comfortable in our house that we were never shocked to come home from school and find him sitting in the TV room, watching TV and happily eating the mixed grill of potato chips The Mom forced us to eat before buying new ones. As an aside, the mixed grill is the bottom fourth of a large bag of potato chips, which are mostly crumbs that no one wants to eat. The Mom is not keen on wasting, so she just mixed them all in one big bowl and told us to eat that.
A friend of Crazy D’s took up residence for a few months after we’d all moved out but before we moved back in again. And then of course there’s the never ending variety of pets we look after. Honestly, it’s shocking that The Mom hasn’t just seen the writing on the wall and started calling her house a B&B.
I understand though how The Mom might find the current level of comings and goings to be bewildering. When I was in residence, I never went anywhere, and if I did go into Toronto, she had to drive me to the train station and pick me up again, so you know, she knew where I was and when I’d be back. I think the big difference is that I’ve never owned a car. It’s never even occurred to me that I might want to own one. They seem like a giant hassle. I prefer the train, or in a pinch the bus. Cars just cramp your style. You can’t just accidentally go out for lunch and then wind up on an afternoon bender, because you have to deal with your car. If, on the other hand, you got someone to drop you off, you can always pour yourself into a taxi later when the need arises.
So L’il Sis and Crazy D are much more mobile than I am when I’m at home. But over here in the UK, and in Europe, they’re expecting people like me because I’m not the odd one out. I know tons of people over here who don’t even have driving licenses. We rely on taxis, tubes, busses, trains, and short haul flights. There are always enough options to get you where you need to be with minimal pain, and if the journey becomes too arduous, there’s always a pub you can hole up in. Even when my friends and I went up to Bute, one of the isles off the West Coast of Scotland, there was a bus. Granted, things were a bit easier with a car, but still. One day, a few of us got on the bus just to see where it went. It went to the other side of the island and it stopped in front of a pub. We got off, looked around, it started to hail, we went back inside and made enquiries about when the next bus might appear. We had a few hours to wait, so happily made use of the pub and its excellent lunching options. You get much more of an adventure when all you’ve got is bus fare.
All this careening around back home – I’d find it exhausting too. Trouble is, The Mom is also used to me announcing my whereabouts and plans for further locations I may be in, loudly and frequently.
As in, I’m going to Toronto next week. I’m going to Toronto in five days. I’m going to Toronto tomorrow (quickly followed by Oh Shit, I better pack). Or even, I am going out for a walk. If I’m not back in half an hour, you may worry, until then, hold off. Or, I’m going to the library and I may be some time.
I feel it’s my duty to alert The Mom to my whereabouts, particularly when I’m at hers, but also just generally in life. I mean, if something awful happens, she’s going to have to mop it up, so she may as well know where I am. A misadventure for me in France could be the holiday of a lifetime for her! It would be cruel to not let her imagine the fun.
And of course, there’s the time ten years ago that I was travelling from Cornwall up to Glasgow. I’d changed my plans, or had been thinking about changing them, and The Mom wasn’t up to date on my location when the bombs went off in London on the 7th of July. When that played out on CNN, as you can well imagine, thinking I was travelling through London (and would be going on the tube from Paddington to King’s Cross) she freaked right on out. I was safe and sound in a pub in Glasgow, drinking, and my phone was in my bag which was probably not on my person. When I did eventually check the phone, there were a zillion missed calls from her. I can only imagine the panic. I phoned her back immediately. Since then, I always let her know where I am. Down to the borough when I’m in London because CNN doesn’t always have a good grasp of location. Ma, I’ll say, if you see Leyton in the news, worry. Any other part of London, don’t panic.