Home for the Holidays

I’m back home, in the house I lived in since elementary school.  Everything feels small and a bit dusty—my parents, though clean, are also a bit neurotic and self-sure—which is not a great combination—and there seem to be corners in every room stacked inches tall with dust and pet hair.  My allergies are crazy.  Trying to study, can’t.

I am always shocked by how little I like being home.  I love seeing my friends and I like seeing my family, but there’s something about this place that makes me angsty.  It makes me feel totally reliant on other people, in a way that doesn’t persist in a college dorm.

I think the really strange thing about growing up with very hands-on parents (OK, I’ll say it—Jewish parents) is that you’re constantly in a realm between doing things by yourself and having someone else do them for you.  I have trouble living in that interim, particularly because I am excessively intense, perhaps over-emotional, and my parents are able to comprehend about ten percent of my ambitions at any moment.  So I end up, just by habit and the sort of intrusive presence of my mother, letting someone else do something for me that I really should be doing with no outside influence.  I am bizarre enough a person that I need to learn by my own mistakes.  It is frustrating to feel like I can’t even have my mistakes to myself here.

It doesn’t help that the house is small and old.  Modern suburban houses are built to give each resident privacy: the ranch design, for example, stretches the bedrooms out from the central rooms and from whatever staircases and entrances might intrude along, usually, the central axis.  I live in an old, 1920’s house.  The walls are so thin that you drop a pencil and the basement and hear it two floors up.  All the bedrooms open up on a hallway ten feet long, and the doors don’t completely stretch to the floor.

You couple this with intrusive parents and you have an uncomfortable situation.  I feel like I’m being watched every second here.

And, even worse, I’m probably right.


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