The central premise of this blog is that I am a single guy who, at the age of 37 or so, left his hip and happenin’ home to move to the suburbs with his girlfriend and her two children and the effect that the change has had on me. Sort of like the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, where my life got flipped-turned upside down but with more NERF guns and less Carlton. People, Cass senior among them, often ask me what the most difficult part of this change has been.
“Is it suddenly having two kids?” they ask.
No, that’s the easiest part. I mean, it’s the hardest thing, in terms of actually doing it and trying to do it well, but it is the easiest part because it is so fun (generally) and rewarding (most times).
“Is it moving to the suburbs?”
No. The suburbs are nice. Weird, sometimes, but nice.
I DO miss walking to bars and excellent restaurants. Really…I miss excellent restaurants in general. What passes for a good restaurant in the ‘burbs is basically something slightly above a Chilies. There is a restaurant very near us that, if you ask, “We’re is a good place to go to eat” will always get named and it is mediocre, at best. It sort of reminds me of a Red Lobster without all the seafaring knick-knacks and the amazing biscuits. People were losing their shit a few months back because a Cracker Barrel was going in nearby. A FUCKING CRACKER BARREL! And we live in a highly educated area, so it seems like these people should know better. We do have a pretty decent selection of ethnic food, which is great, and you can always go into the city for slightly better places, but at the end of the day I miss there being a ton of fantastic choices reachable by foot.
But I digress.
The hardest part of this, in all honesty, is that it is increasingly difficult to get any time alone. Not to do anything, just to be alone.
For a majority of my adult life, with a few woman-centered years sprinkled in here and there, I lived by myself. I got very used to being alone. Not lonely, you understand, but alone. I am good with it. Not all the time, obviously, but for little periods of time. I find it refreshing.
Please don’t misunderstand, spending time with Cass and the boys is my favorite thing in the world. I’d rather do whatever I am doing with them. That said…every once in a while I’d like a few minutes of isolation. That’s pretty much impossible now. Cass understands and actually is great about giving me a little space. T1, being a teenager, has a high amount of sympathy for desire to be left alone and, of everyone in the house, is the absolute best about it. T2 is the worst offender.
He hates to be alone doing anything and so the idea that I, his best friend in the universe, might not want to share every single second is completely foreign to him.
Usually on Saturday or Sunday, depending on our schedule, we will all clean the house. It can take anywhere from an hour to half the day, depending on or level of commitment- the time it takes growing larger as the level of commitment drops. Whenever I clean, I put on headphones and listen to podcasts. I’m not by myself, but I can sort of zone out, listen to whatever and clean at the same time. It isn’t alone time, but it is close. It is rare I can go five minutes without T2 jumping up in down in front of me, rigorously pantomiming the fact that I need to take my headphones off right away and listen to him. This involves grabbing invisible headphones and dramatically pulling them away from his head combined with a facial expression that says “thank God I have pulled these large metal spikes out of my ears!” Fifty percent of the time he can’t remember what he wanted by the time he gets me to pay attention to him.
The funniest and weirdest example, however, is his insistence on my company that happens in a very specific part of the house. The bathroom.
We have three full and one other half baths. The full bath on the ground floor, the one next to my office area is mine. The shower is used for storage and is full of luggage. The toilet is the toilet that I use. I don’t use this particular bathroom, and not the one off of our bedroom, out of courtesy to Cass. I use it because it is off the beaten path, house-wise, and theoretically it should afford me the most privacy. I should be able to retreat into this bathroom, take care of my bathroom business and spend a minute or too alone.
It doesn’t work like that. Inevitably, it works like this.
I go in. I turn on the light and the fan, because I am civilized.
Very shortly into the…procedure…I hear a voice from outside the door.
“PATRICK!” it will yell, so as to be heard over the fan. “ARE YOU IN THERE?”
“Yes, T2,” I will sigh. Pretending not to be doesn’t work, he just knocks and knocks and knocks.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THERE?” he will ask.
“What do you think I am doing in here?”
“ARE YOU POOPING?”
“YEAH, I GUESS YOU ARE POOPING!”
“Yes, T2, I am pooping.”
“CAN I SHOW YOU SOMETHING?”
“NO!” now I am yelling. “NO, YOU CAN’T SHOW ME SOMETHING! I’M GOING TO THE BATHROOM! WE ESTABLISHED THIS ALREADY!”
“I poop with the door open so I can watch tv at the same time,” he says, no longer yelling but obviously leaning against the door. We are doing what he (and, I admit I) like to do best. He’s dialoging.
“I know,” I say. “I know you go to the bathroom with the door open. Actually, I know, your brother and mom know, Buck knows, the neighbors know. You never close the door.”
“Yeah,” he says. “It’s called multitasking. The going to the bathroom and the tv. Multitasking. Because I am doing two things at once.”
“Yes,” I say,” I know what it is called.”
“You should multitask.”
“I don’t want to multitask.”
“Are you done yet? I want to show you something.”
“I’m not done yet.”
“Are you okay?” he asks, concerned. “You are old, you are supposed to pay attention to bathroom stuff. Is it a big balooza?”
Big baloozas are his term for particularly productive bathroom sessions.
“It’s not a…you know what? LEAVE ME ALONE!”
The door thumps.
“You are still out there, aren’t you?” I ask.
“Yup,” he says.
“You just sitting with your back against the door?”
“Yup,” he says. “It’s fine, I’ll just wait.”
“Okay,” I say, defeated.
“Hurry up though,” he says.
Thump goes his head against the door. Thump. Thump.
“Okay,” I announce. “I’m done. I’m coming out.”
“What do you want to show me?” I ask.
“What? Oh….I don’t remember.”
I miss having alone time but there are much worse things than having a constant companion. It’s a good trade.