There are times when I’m talking to The Mom over Skype and as she runs me through the details of her week, it amounts almost exclusively to something like: people came with stuff, left stuff, took stuff, brought more stuff, moved stuff around, and then left with less stuff than originally advertised.
She makes it out to seem like, for reasons of perhaps sheer wilfulness or some kind of retribution for having dragged us to California and Germany as kids, that we are constantly moving, and readjusting the levels of stuff we require and can accommodate in our homes, apartments, or flats. The thing is, we rent. So we move a lot. Because invariable the landlord will put the rent up, or not fix something, or the neighbourhood will become – almost over night – overrun by unsavoury folk (hipsters, people who haven’t a clue as to how to behave decently in a restaurant, or similar). The Mom has been ensconced in her Blue House of Birds and Barks for ever and so I think has forgotten how precarious a life it is to lead when one rents. And even then, I think the rental situation was perhaps slightly different in her day.
I suppose it’s not the moving so much that she minds, it gives her and excuse to write yet another address under our names in her old school by hand phone/address book and lament how we each taken up several pages due to our numerous moves, but rather the stuff.
And the funny thing is that I think – secretly – she rather enjoys this constant reshuffling. It keeps her on her toes, so to speak. And it’s not like she doesn’t benefit from it, ultimately. I mean, the best example has to be that she got to take care of L’il Sis’ two wee birds who she grew quite fond of and was rather sad to see them go, or not go, I can’t actually keep track of which pets are where anymore. The other thing is, she’s got to have the benefit of all our stuff too.
Now, if you are a parent in a similar situation, you are likely scoffing at this. But! There are benefits. Most parents lament the fact that they rarely see their kids. Not The Mom – people are at her house all the time, looking for their stuff, unable to remember if it’s been left there, at a friend’s, in storage, or abandoned along the way because someone, somewhere lost the will to schlep it around again. She is hardly ever without company. Someone will pop by, looking of ra chair or a lamp, and that’ll be her afternoon visit taken care of. She’ll also get to reminisce about the funny times we’ve had with whatever piece of furniture that’s coming or going, or the whatever else that’s been unearthed during a trip to the basement.
Nevermind that, but when she finds herself needed a bit of a refresh, she doesn’t have to go shopping, she simply has to cajole someone into coming over and doing the heavy lifting. The couch I used to have in my condo back in the Toronto days is now doing double duty – as it was meant to – as an extra bed (it’s a sofa bed) because someone, somewhere along the line decided that they were taking the bed in their room at hers and moving it to their new place and somewhere in the confusion there was no replacement provided. No problem! My sofa bed was happy to step in.
The Mom lives, sometimes, in her own mind, as do we all, in an idealised fantasy world, where her children do normal things and have normal lives. To me this is already the height of a boring life, but I think what she likes is that she gets to imagine herself living in some kind of Martha Stewart sort of house. Where everything is neat and tidy and just so. Thing is, even if our stuff weren’t there, her house would still be not a Martha Stewart house. She’s got an old cupboard that was once a bird house that now isn’t taking pride of place in the living room, the walls are adorned with art by artists we actually know and love, and there are funny bits of souvenirs and mementos strewn hither and yon throughout her house. And her filing which is just random bits of paper left adrift in the house, following a system only she can sort of half recall. It’s easier I suppose for her to moan about our mess holding her back, but really what it’s doing is providing a valuable service: preventing her from seeing exactly how much of a mess she could create all on her own.
To which I can only say: You’re welcome.