Sunday, January 15, 2012
The Move and Other Things
On a more indulgent whim earlier this Fall I accompanied Cool Cousin, my 40-year-old chiropractor relative, to see a highly regarded psychic.
This was mostly an exercise in silliness; the entire car ride to his place of business was punctuated by terrible Miss-Cleo style proclamations from both of us, but when we actually arrived he proved surprisingly accurate in some respects.
"Are you planning a move soon?" he asked me.
"I'm not sure," I answered.
Of course, I was planning a move and knew that full and well, but I didn't want to give him anything to grab onto.
"Well, I see a big transition coming up for you," he said. "And not just occupational or personal; this is definitely a physical move. Are you in school?"
"Well, I specifically see you leaving your current school. Maybe you'll transfer or take a semester off. And you're moving, too. You're going to be living somewhere else very soon."
He was right--righter than he knew--where school was concerned, as I graduated months after seeing him. And, though we delayed and debated and attempted to avoid it, it has come about that Out Family will also be moving.
This move has occasioned great debate within Our Family, namely because of my parents' choice of a new home. On one of their periodic kicks, they determined that we were going to use our relocation to go "back to basics" and they put a contract on a cramped 200-year-old farm house on the outskirts of Mountain Town.
For several reasons this is not a desirable situation.
First of all, our family is a large one. Between my mother, my father, Beautiful Cousin, Thomas, Pie, three dogs, a cat, and me, we already occupy a great deal of space. Add in the real possibility that Powell will soon be moving home and we require as much square footage as possible.
Even without Powell's presence the farm house is tight; its four bedrooms provide insufficient accommodation for the six current residents and that fact has already necessitated Beautiful Cousin's rooming with Pie. Should Powell come home he will effectively be living on a couch.
Beyond space considerations the house is unsightly, has a vague odor, and lacks basic amenities such as public water and air conditioning (we'll have to make due with window units to get through the Southern State summer).
My parents appear to have recognized the folly of their decision, as they tried at the last minute to secure a contract on another house, but they came to their senses too late and now everyone else has to live with the consequences of their momentary enthusiasm.
The problem with my parents' ill-advised step, one they're about to encounter in a very big way, is that after a decade of leading an upper-middle-class existence they're unequipped to live like the working class people they pretend to be.
"We've lived in nothing but new homes for ten years," I told Beautiful Cousin. "We've had domestic help for ten years."
"I know," she said. "Your parents think this is so great--wait 'till summer rolls around and your father has to live in a house with no air conditioning."
"They'll probably try to break the lease," I said. "Just you wait and see."
The circumstances of our move are awkward enough. Our house was auctioned off at short sale after my parents, faced with an intransigent bank unwilling to renegotiate a mortgage worth twice the value of our home, refused to make payments on a loan they could afford. That was bad enough. Their absurd choice has made an already unfortunate set of circumstances even worse.
The aftermath of that choice has been about as flattering to them as the choice itself. True to form, they've celebrated their newfound financial freedom by planning to purchase a pool, a hot tub, another dog, and all-terain vehicles. My irritated rejoinder that the disposable income expended on such luxuries should be diverted into a college fund for 16-year-old Thomas has been met with their telling me to "mind [my] own business."
Things are going well with us, though. I've learned to pretend I'm not angry, and they're happy thinking I've come around to the fact that they're never wrong. There's more going on but I'll have to share it another time. My professional endeavors, complex and tenuous as they are, merit a post of their own.