Boy was 30 when we met. And having heard rumors about his 20s, I was always intrigued about what they were like for him. Since the crowd he pal’d around with were his party buddies, most of those people disappeared after we met. I would try and ask about what those years were like for him, but have you ever asked a boy what he discussed after just hanging up the phone with someone? Yeah, something like this:
Me: How’s your dad?
Boy: Oh fine. Same old stuff…
Just playin’ his computer games.
What about your mom.
Well, what’d you talk about for 30 minutes then?
Nothing in particular.
So they’re all doing nothing?
Well, pretty much, I mean my Dad had his surgery and everything.
And everything? Having surgery is same old stuff? Is he okay?
Yeah, he’s fine.
And so on and so on and so on for about another half an hour. Me? I get off of the phone with my sister and without him even asking to I volunteer that my nephew pulled his underwear down and started running around while I was talking to my sister and it was frickin’ hysterical and then I sang twinkle twinkle and said the pledge of allegiance with both of them and blah blah blah because THAT is what is called COMMUNICATION.
Anyway, boy has had this imaginary friend he has spoken of since we met. I say imaginary because for 8 years, he was exactly that. Boy would speak of him and everytime they visited I was in New York, Paris, or a business trip – how convenient for his imaginary friend to visit during those times… But a few weeks ago, boy said a few nights before that he was going to be in town and we were going to dinner. I think I said “yeah right, I’ll believe it when I see it.” Well, lo and behold, I came home and boy is on the phone giving his imaginary friend directions on where to park and I’m like “dude, seriously, it’s okay…” And then he showed up! See?
So we all went to dinner and he left shortly thereafter, but not before I grabbed the camera to get proof. I needed proof in case another 8 years goes by and boy still occassionally mentions this dude friend of his…
Anyway, dinner was… well… weird. As we said good bye and boy and I walked back up the stairs, I couldn’t really place it. I was rambling about how he didn’t meet my expectations and the comparison between boy and his friend was just odd because I couldn’t quite place it and all I could say was “He’s old!”
Boy laughed and turned to me saying “I was going to warn you of that ahead of time, but I figured you’d just see for yourself.”
This was the first time I had seen boy up against one of his peers. Someone his own age, someone he shared late ’80s early ’90s music tastes with, someone who knew boy during the time he was dating his first girlfriend and, my, if you saw that picture of boy and his first girlfriend you would know why I am banned from asking any questions pertaining to that time in his life… (and it wasn’t just her, I’m talking high tops, acid wash jeans, and a mullett my friends.. eeesh.)
But the hard part of the evening was topic of conversation. Boy and I spoke about plans to keep up with what we’re doing, not caring too much about settling down here because we know we’ll be off in a few years, really wanting to get back to Hawaii soon soon soon, but not dropping big bucks and instead doing weekend jaunts. What did boy’s friend talk about? Moving his 2 kids and wife into their new 5 bedroom house and mowing the lawn. A long drawn out story about mowing the lawn and the job he has had for 11 yrs (mind you, he was obviously passionate about both those things, which is nice to see for a change.) Not boring, kind of entertaining in fact, but the bottom line? I just could relate. And honestly? I didn’t want to.
I may or may not have mentioned it already, but boy is very nontraditional in what he wants out of life compared to other people his age. And at times I have mourned that – he will always make light of proposing instead of actually doing it, we probably won’t ever have a wedding if marriage is something we decide on, if I want a settled domestic-looking place to come home to, I have to bully him into unpacking his junk boxes and hang art, not framed movie posters, on the wall.
But when I saw boy next to his friend, I remembered that I never wanted that life in the first place. My best friend back in Louisiana told me that she felt that a man is supposed to drive a truck, so she made sure her husband had a truck. She runs the household like a champ and in her first marriage would get up at the butt crack of dawn to make sure her husband’s coffee was made before he left for work. I remember willing off any man who drove a truck back in 10th grade because every punk in my high school class drove exactly that. I never wanted a house because I wanted to make sure I was able to pick up and leave on my next adventure. I never wanted a husband either because hell if I was going to cook for anyone but myself. It’s no wonder everyone thought I was going to be the crazy old single bitty that had 5 bajillion cats, because in the south women don’t generally aspire to live alone. It was not something I could admit to and I felt at odds with friends and family around me for not wanting what they all had.
The funny part is, boy and I settled in quickly together after we met. And now with Jack around, it feels like a family. And all those things I really didn’t want, I have – weekend pancakes, once a week pasta nights, family television nights with me, boy, and Jack in between us. The most important thing is, I have them on my own terms. We have agreed we will never, ever, ever ever ever own a lazy boy recliner. No one in our home will ever have to move “because that’s your father’s chair.” Equal opportunity seating for all. I will never be responsible for putting a meal on the table. In fact, if boy wants a meal on the table he usually takes the lead and starts cooking. If it were up to me? Hummus. Every night. I don’t ever see us emphasizing the importance of eating dinner at the table if we have a kid. (I don’t know anyone who actually liked forced dinner time around the table…) We probably won’t ever own power tools that we can show off to our neighbors. I never want the biggest weekend accomplishment to be mowing the lawn and having an ice cold beer afterward. We will never own a bar-b-que pit or a deep freeze. I won’t ever have mad baking skills. Most important to me, I won’t have to ever be a stay at home mom. Boy has gladly volunteered taking that role if we are ever in such a position.
Occasionally, when I hear about how someone spent their whole weekend baking and prepping dinners for the week or doing house projects on their vacation, I get a little pang of jealousy. How nice it must be to own a house, to have the skills to cook, to be able to build a fence around your garden with the help of a neighbor and be friends with that neighbor and not only know him for being the guy that makes weird noises before bed keeping me awake as he paces back and forth for 50 minutes…
But when I really think about it, put myself in that life and try and fit boy and Jack in there with me, it’s like watching a kid play one of those building block learning games shove the star into the square whole. Every now and then I put on my apron and try… I try to cook a meal that doesn’t consist of just one thing served over rice… and I usually get so frustrated with myself (I once cried over buying snow crab claws bringing them home and not knowing what to do with them in the slightested once I got them on the plate.) But this time, with boy’s friend, I was happy with the fact he was living the suburban dream and I’m not. And it doesn’t include a lazy boy recliner.