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.