When I say to friends it would be lovely to have an empty house, they all shake their head sadly and tell me to be careful what I wish for.
“You’ll miss them when they’re gone, and it happens so fast,” they say.
“Oh, you think that now, but you don’t really mean it,” they say.
My household is comprised of two sons, their girlfriends, the girlfriends’ dogs and four cats. It is not a large house. I am not a particularly sociable or amiable person. Like most things in my life, I have arrived at a place I had little intention of being and it shows.
As I type this, there are 31 pairs of shoes and boots in my front hallway. I’m not kidding. I admit a bunch are mine, but 31. For five of us. The bathroom is full of so many lotions and potions I have no idea what they’re for. I use shampoo, conditioner and soap. At last count, there were 13 kinds of things in the shower. Not counting the bar of soap.
Every few months, Christopher, 23, and I have a blistering fight and I throw him out. His girlfriend Pammy has lived with us for about five years, and they both know I would never throw her out so it’s kind of an empty threat. The next morning he’ll lift something heavy or cut the grass and we trundle on, much as we ever were.
I channel the Amityville Horror movie and creep around in the middle of the night whispering “get oooout” but nobody does. I offer parting gifts (“first one out can have the living room furniture!) yet still, no takers. I’ve been saving pots and pans and dishes and cutlery since Christopher was teething. It’s not that I don’t love my children, it’s that I do. I want them to be independent and happy and learn to buy toothpaste.
About a month ago, Christer and Pammy showed me an ad for an apartment they’d found. I was totally surprised because I hadn’t thrown anyone out in the previous week. But they were serious and dedicated, and I was delighted. My friends were wrong; seeing the excitement in the eyes of two kids I adore as they get ready for a new beginning makes me smile.
They have had the luxury of an unhurried move in, and have been schlepping things to the new place all week. Well, mostly Pammy has. Christer found out when the new bed would be delivered, announced that was when he’d hook up his computer, threw 4 pairs of underwear in a bag and announced he was good to go.
Ari is so excited to see his brother leave that he’s helping lift furniture without complaining. The couch they bought would barely fit (Ari: “Didn’t you take a tape measure when you went to look at it?” Christer: “Shut up.”) but such was the determination of both young men for different reasons they made it work.
When they go, of course Alfie goes with them. I’m still no dog person, but Alfie and I have grown to tolerate each other and we hang out when everyone is at work. Just as I was telling him I’d miss him, Pammy told me not to worry, I’d probably still see him every day. They’ve moved about three blocks away.
“We’ll get you your own key made,” said Christopher. I smiled, figuring there would probably be some Alfie rescues in my future. “So you can bring over dinner, you know, if you feel like it,” he finished.
Independence. One step at a time.