Monday, March 5, 2012

"Help . . . my mother is driving me crazy!"

That was the phone call I woke up to this morning. My fifty-three year old friend Jo is a little stressed today.

She's single, lived at home her entire life until a little over a year ago. She decided it was time to unfold her wings, take 'em for a test-flight and meet life on her own—head on. She bought a two bedroom condo in November 2010. It took her all this time to realize there's a healthy amount of freedom in leaving home and being on your own. In her own place, she was finally beginning to enjoy life differently, and often she'd have friends over just to hang out, share some laughs, lovingly pick on one another, drink a little, eat a lot and sing karaoke all night. Freedom was good and she was loving every bit of life.

She barely had time to process her leave-taking when things took a sudden turn. In the fall of 2011, her mother left her matrimonial home, by choice, and moved in with Jo. She's not the only child but, the only single child. No threatening daughters and sons-in-law to rain on her mother's parade.

The first time Jo confided in me about her mother, I took her frustrations for granted. I listened, but did not hear her. "Just leave her be. She's old and doesn't have much time left in this world. You'll miss her when she's gone. Don't pay attention to her . . ." I dismissed her feelings and acted as if I knew her mother like I knew mine. Her mother is not like my mother and I did not know her like Jo did. My mother never rejected my friends nor listened in on my telephone conversation from another extension. She never cussed about my friends or meddled with how I lived my life. She didn't ask where I was going or whom I was going out with or what time will I be home. She trusted and supported my judgment and kept respectable boundaries. There was mutual respect. I miss her beautiful soul more than words can describe.

I don't know much of what goes on in Jo's household, but I know the kind of person she is, and making up stories like this is just not her style. I can't help her about the swelling family dysfunction, but can lend an ear for support and openly give my personal opinion when asked. There are seven children in the family—all married except Jo. None of the other siblings are offering their home to their mother. It's a sticky situation because the mother receives a healthy pension and is financially capable of getting a place of her own. She's eighty, and here's one sad part, "If I rent I won't have any money left for casino."

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Pink Room

It's pink! I need to repaint it before Sean moves in. That was my first thought when I saw the second smaller bedroom to an apartment we viewed back in November. Except for the white baseboards, and the trimmings that hugged the two small bedroom windows, the entire room was pink—not baby pink or cotton candy pink but a brighter rosy pink. I like pink, but this was going to be Sean's bedroom. 

Contrary to popular belief
We moved in. Sean didn't care much that the room is pink. It's his bedroom and he likes it. He is actually quite content in his bedroom—his own little pink sanctuary. His own creative oasis—to work—paint—write—sing—strum his guitar—listen to music and stream Lost videos—or just, simply be.

It took nearly three months before it got repainted—Sky Blue.

Two weeks ago, I've been itching to paint. What I had in mind was acrylic on paper. So from the black duffle bag, I pulled out a pad of paper, paint brushes and paint tubes but they just sat on my kitchen table for days. No image was coming to me—until a few days ago—the image of a small bedroom in the color of sky blue—'azzurro' in italian—a word I later learned from an italian friend. All along, my desire to paint was not of acrylic on paper but wall paint on pink walls.

Sunday afternoon the time is 5:30, I assemble my paint tools in the empty pink bedroom. I need music to do this kind of work. The headset attached to the iPod gets in the way. It has to go. On top of a wardrobe sits my laptop that plays shuffle music from Abba to U2.  It's 7:30. I feel hunger pains. I am too hungry to keep the momentum. To wash my hands, change my clothes, or check my appearance in the mirror is a drag. Keys in hand and some pocket change, I descend two flights of stairs, out the front, and enter the next door immediately to the left—into the bakery.

There is a good number of patrons enjoying their cappuccino, lattes and pastries. I suspect a few wonder what planet I come from by the way they look at me. I move forward to the counter and asks the bakery owner, Victor for 200 grams of prosciutto and two buns. He walks to the back. A few seconds later he comes back and asks if I have a good knife upstairs in the apartment. The answer is yes and the result—a two pounder prosciutto hock, absolutely free. I pay him 70 cents for two buns. It must be the drywall compound powder I was covered in, and the azzurro paint that generously smeared my hands and dotted my nose that gave me away—hard at work, and hungry! My landlord and I share a mutual regard. I fix up his place—he makes sure I'm healthy and be around to pay the following months rent.

My stomach is content and I go back to the pink room. In the background, Celine Dion is singing Halfway to Heaven. How fitting. I look around, and the pink room is now half blue—the color of sky—the color of heaven, so and I've been told as a little girl.

The bedroom is now the color of light sky-blue. But something  is wrong. The beige drapes I picked up at Walmart clearance rack has to go.