It's Wednesday morning, quickly slipping into afternoon, and I figure I should start the dishes. We're supposed to go to the store later, but the Professor woke up with a bad backache and Ginger is currently giving him a very rough-looking massage. A part of me wants to stay right where I am and watch. I like learning from their interactions. But it also feels intimate, like I'm spying, like I should leave them along for a bit. I'm sure they'll come get me when they are ready to go and I don't feel it's my place to rush them.
But as I'm doing the dishes, things start to feel familiar. It sounds like Prof and Ginger have moved on from the back rub to playful couple 'fighting.' But they are happy. That much is evident. And I'm happy, in a warm, contented way.
Having a house full of people just living, interacting, both working and playing, separate yet also together, reminds me of happier times with my family. Being at Gram's for the weekend with people doing stuff, some work, some visiting, some playing, some relaxing, wondering in and out of rooms occupied by others, but knowing we'd all come together again for dinner. That 'out of the corner of your eye' awareness of what someone else was doing without getting wrapped up in it. Knowing it was all ok and all going to be ok.
Last weekend, when I was about to start the dishes, there was a short summer rainstorm. I went outside and stood on the back porch, just breathing it in. It reminded me of standing on the cobblestone road in the middle of the night in the cool rain, taking a break from painting my uncle's new 'fixer-upper in exchange for no security deposit' apartment in his college town. I was dirty and hot and covered in paint, bone tired, and we stood out there, barefoot on the road, the only ones up at that hour. I remember eleven-year-old me being so envious that adults got to do this anytime they wanted to, sure that this freedom was what it meant to be an adult. It was then and still is now, another life and then some ago, one of my favorite memories. Standing on that back porch last weekend, I cried alittle, but I felt like, as he so often has this last month or so, that my uncle was trying to reassure me. That this might not have been the situation I had asked for, but it is a good situation and he is supporting me.
(Yeah, maybe a month from now or a year from now, if/when this all blows up in my face, I'll feel differently, feel like I was completely delusional, but I need all the support I can get right now so I'll take it. Even if it's all in my head, I have to hope that it is that part of me that comes from him.)
As I do the dishes, I think of all the times hanging out with him and his (now ex-)wife. In some ways, as a kid who could only see the world in terms of couple, of pairs, I felt like a third-wheel. But they never made me feel like that, even when they probably should have kicked me out so that they could enjoy more intimate times. Actually, it seems like growing up an only child with my mom and step-dad as well as the time I spent with my aunt and uncle, and hell, to a lesser extent, the time I spent with my grandparents as an only grandchild, has prepared me for how to blend myself into a couple, perhaps create a triad, now. How to not feel competitive. How to not feel excluded when they focus on each other. (Though I have to admit that in this romantic and sexual context I'm still getting over my embarassment when one of them is focused on me while we are around the other. As well as when both of them are focused on me actually.) But it feels nice for everyone to already be comfortable enough that they can do their own thing and I can do mine, that I can feel connected to them as we do and enjoy the snippets of eavesdropped conversation and play. I miss the feeling of that larger, connected but still doing our own thing family. Of course,sadly, I rarely appreciated it in the moment as much as I do this now.
Later, in the car, as we run our errands, I ride in the back and listen with bemusement as they banter and bicker, the way that long established couples do. It reminds me of so many car rides with my parents or my uncle and aunt, that familiar feeling of being part of a family while also having my separate space, enjoying the eavesdropping as they talk to each other as if they've forgotten that I'm there. I know it sounds weird, but this is what home feels like to me. This is feeling like the home I've so missed since my larger family started passing away. This is starting to feel like home.