Home Sweet Home?

by Jane Moneypenny

I forgot how hot New Orleans is in the summer. In the words of some guidebook I was thumbing through, the city is “steamy.” As equally hot as it gets in St. Louis, New Orleans doesn’t offer me the same shelter of a 9-5 free air-conditioned haven or my small apartment that circulates air just right. My childhood bedroom in the corner of the house gets very little and with an entire house to cool down and money tight, I’ve taken to standing in front of the fan half-naked.

Sometimes I wonder why I came home. Don’t get me wrong; I love New Orleans, but I also love it most during Christmas when all my friends are home and we haven’t seen each other in a year and life is filled with plans and parties and what I wished my social life was in St. Louis. I knew when I made the choice to come home that the possibility of getting restless existed, but I never thought it would be so soon.

Family-wise, things have been really rough. With my dad out of the country getting R&R and treatment, it’s been just my mom and sister handling everything here. She would never say it, but I think my mom is happy I’m hope for these few months just to help out with every day stresses. Financially, I can’t stop worrying. While I’m undergoing this quarterlife crisis, my dad has apparently decided to have a mid-life one. Finances are already tight, but he seems to have lost sight of that and spending money that we don’t have to the absolute frustrations of my poor mother. Watching her struggle every day with everything going on reminds me I made the right choice to come home.

My parents have always had a typical loving marriage, filled with funny bickering and usual fights, but the second cancer entered the picture, everything changed. How could it not? She can only argue so much with him in fear of disturbing his health, so the three of us are on the other side of the world trying to figure out how to fix the house and pay the bills. If anything, I’ve discovered that my sister and I have more in common than I realized (we’re not close at ALL). I’ve watched her take apart my childhood bed with just a wrench and fix things that my dad used to do for us. A friend that was over helping me paint commented, “Wow, you and your sister are both really good with power tools.” Part of that only added to my fueling anger at him for not being here, but the other half was proud of us for doing so much on our own.

So as messy and chaotic and unknown as my future is, it’s nothing compared to what my mother’s going through. And as strong as she is, she married in an time that the wife is dependent on the husband. She constantly worries I’m lonely being single, but she’s slowly starting to grasp that being independent has made me capable of doing things she was never able to. Their 28th anniversary is in a few weeks; my mom is flying overseas to be with him and hopefully smack him into sense. Funny thing is growing up, he’s always been the one to remember the anniversary and buy flowers. To this day, she still forgets. I know he’s happy where he is; he has his family around him that he doesn’t get to see a lot since we moved to the States, but I know my mom is at her wits end.

I haven’t breathed a word to any of my friends about this; not to say they wouldn’t understand, but something feels strange to bring it up. Whether they know or not hasn’t changed the fact they’ve been quietly there for me, often paying for little things when we’re out. For the first time, I’m the one without the job when I was always been the only one working and living on my own. Europe was incredibly good for my life; I no longer sleep past 10 even when I got to bed late. And while I never had that “aha!” moment (although E said she heard A-ha’s “Take On Me” in the department song and is counting it), I did realize that as much as I love order in my life, I really crave adventure.

But where do I find adventure and order and still fix everything that is going out of control?

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