I have this fear that lingers like fate; I’ve seen the cruelty of the world and I want to die in my bed, sleeping peacefully, at home, away from prying eyes, and people who wish to explain me. I haven’t always felt this way, but it became a gradual realization, after living with my parents, my sister, her husband, their four dogs, in a confined space. My brother-in-law decided to remodel our kitchen and my mother started giving him directions.
“Should the light switches really go there?” My mother asked.
“Marilyn, you need to make up your mind because it’s slowing me down,” Jon said.
“You don’t respect me.”
“I’m redoing your kitchen.”
And on and on it went. Our living room was full of boards, paint, nails, drills, miscellaneous man stuff, while my brother-in-law screwed things down and cut stuff up. The house was chaos and anger and stress, so much so, I was surprised that the bunny rabbits continued to eat clover in the front lawn. Just outside, the once chaotic world was where I wanted to be, but I didn’t know how to be there. It was a step I had never taken, that I knew I needed to take.
And my father was in a whole different way. He retired last year to heal-up from his engineering job and he sat, day after day, cooking like a frog in his leather chair, with wrinkles and black eyes and chambray shirt and tired face, the picture of sick anxiety. He had nowhere to go and it was his house. The sense of freedom I craved was not in his reach and I realized my next steps were uniquely my own.
My sister was stoic, as she climbed the ladder of higher education. She was a reader of many books that taught civilized young women how to be killers in business. She spoke of brands and YouTube channels and blogs that allowed those with a marketing mind to defeat their jobs and move to places in the country, off the grid, where they sold merchandise, and enjoyed quiet fame.
I’ve experienced many things in my life without doing anything, which my brother-in-law reminded me of, constantly. I don’t think this will change as it fits my personal philosophy. I have no gray hairs or worries and the problems I encounter, usually get taken-on by others; not that I force my problems onto them, just that they are natural problem-solvers and their hairs are gray and their immune systems are weak, and I’m feeling like I might live forever.
Anyway, my brother-in-law turned off the water. I could no longer take a shower. I had that sticky feeling of lying in my own filth for 3 days.
“You could go jump in the river,” my mother suggested.
“You’re joking, right?”
“This would be a great time to move out.” I wondered if this was her plan, to move me out of the house at 29. Nothing else had worked and my parents were very indirect about things, so much so, that conversations that should’ve happened were swept under the rug for at least three or four years.
So, I decided to call local apartments, knowing I hated to live near people, but now being willing to spend 1,500 dollars to get away from my family.
“Yes, I was wondering if you have a 1-bedroom apartment available?”
“Yes, we do. What sort of amenities do you require?”
“I don’t know, sink, shower, laundry?”
“There was laughing on the other end of the receiver. “Of course, we have those,” she said. Her voice reminded me of people who like to be in charge and my greatest fear was that I was going to pay her half of my paycheck to tell me what to do.
“Let me think about it,” I said, “and I’ll get back to you.”
Meanwhile… my dad had a few drinks and was feeling better. He kept it a secret, even though everybody knew. There are many traps we fall into and the worst are those we can’t share with anyone else, but I could tell it was doing him some good; so, he was in the mood to have one of our rare talks.
“You know…” he said, “there are two guys on the bike trail that I spot every day. One wears flip-flops and board shorts; he’s going nowhere. The other wears Levi’s and he’s deep in thought. You can tell he’s working something out; he has plans.”
I looked at my dad; he had worn Levi’s for the last 30 years.
“Really?” I said, “You can tell all that by how he dresses?”
“Sure,” my dad said. He looked at my relaxed demeanor. I was wearing board shorts and flip-flops.
It was okay; I was okay; the house and the people in it were not. So, I decided to move out. It happened in a second; not with a plan or deep contemplation, but with effortless action. One day I was there and the next day, I was half-way into my apartment.
When my sister found out, the color left her face. “Budd, you’ll get lonely. When I was alone, I started eating too much.”
My dad was flabbergasted. I was still wearing flip-flops and board shorts and I walked out of there for good, like I was going to play golf or something, and for some reason, it was the 4th of July, Independence Day, and I was free; it was a revolution without a war and I had won, in my own special way. I escaped a system that didn’t serve me, and the more often I am able to do this, the better my life becomes.
Of course, after my stint of independence, I moved back in with my parents for a further 2 years, to the horror of my long-suffering mother.