There are hard moments and even sorrows that go with being not typical. Lesbian, older moms, and a host of other things have made us different and at times, the price is lonely. But this is not about sorrow, not at all. Quite the opposite. We do certain things– well, differently from other families we know in our neighborhood.
We have just tipped the balance in this house in several ways. It is a wonderful thing that is unfolding. We live, as I have explained in another post or two, in a wonderful 3-bedroom apartment. It’s quite big-ish by many apartment standards– but still, we are in relatively close quarters. We have less space and less of a set up for privacy than most, or at least many, homeowners do. One bathroom for one thing. Earlier in the spring, about two months ago, we bid on a big house, for just this reason– more space, more bathrooms.
But we didn’t get the house and perhaps this summer we will prove to ourselves again that more space is not so important to living the lives we like to live. Here we go with another chapter in our wonderful old apartment.
Last week the nephew of a very close and long-time friend arrived. He is 18, soon to be 19. Straight from his first year at a university far, far from here. He is a handsome and lovely and lively, interesting young man of color who is very much his own person, an enthusiastic lgbt activist. He is also unmistakably the nephew of our close friend. And unmistakably his mother’s son– we know the maternal side of his family.
He is here, as so many people come here, for an internship, and he needed a place to stay for the first week he was here. Our friend emailed weeks ago asking could we help her nephew find leads on housing. We, no, make that I, emailed back. He said he thought he had found something. I offered a few nights here if he needed. He did need a few nights of lodging, and so he came.
After several days, it became clear that his future housing was not actually firmed up and was in a kind of not great neighborhood. After a few more days it became clear that my daughter loved having him around, the close quarters didn’t seem to bother him and we were pretty crazy about him ourselves. And though he is often quiet with the two of us mid-life women much of the time, he and my daughter have a pretty wonderful thing going.
We moved him into her room temporarily and moved her into ours. With all this writing, I cannot believe I am not “out” about this– but truth is, the moving her into our bedroom is not altogether a change– we are family bed-ers to the max so she is still with us much of the time– visitor or no visitor. When it became clear that his housing options weren’t great, I talked to her. I asked her if she minded letting him take over her room for a while. I asked her if she wanted him to stay. She said “It’s fine. I like it mama, no it’s fine. ” She was exasperated in that way she gets when I dwell on something that she thinks is not worthy of the time.
So we asked him to stay the summer and he took us up on it. She sleeps in with us, and we moved an extra dresser into our room this weekend so she can get her clothes whenever she wants, and some of her toys to other places in the house. He is gone a lot. But when he is around she makes her way to his/ her room, they sit on the floor in the living room hanging out, listening to his I-pod, talking. At dinner if he’s around, he will talk to me about queer theory, the movie or spoken word he saw or heard, a speaker he heard. But there is also an easy connection between my 9-year-old and this young-setting-out-in-the-world queer man of color. I also give directions a lot– to the next place he is going, restaurant ideas, things like that.
But here is my point. His presence tips the balance in the following ways. We are now two younger people and two older– where we were previously a household with two older people and only one young person. (Adult as he is– he is 10 years older than my daughter and I am more than 40 years older than she and more than 30 years older than he is…) We are now one seriously feminist man plus three women in a usually all-female household. And the race balance tipped; two people of color and two white people. Which personally, is always a relief to me. My daughter is suddenly not the minority either in race/racism nor is she the sole youth in the household for now. It’s pretty wonderful.
Although I like and need a high degree of order in the house, there is something I really do need more than that. More people, more comings and goings, more conversation, more good moods and bad, more stuff, more. By stuff I mean more connection, more conversation, more to learn. I love that they are two young brown-skinned people together– their ease and interest in their own things, which are very, very different own things, but also in each other. A common friendship, a common something, an easy kindness and generosity with each other. So here we are– the balance tipped, and for me, and all of us in my little family, the fun and hopeful of it, far outweighs the moments when I must share the bathroom.