Saturday, May 03, 2008

The House Sold

I wonder if I haven’t been posting because I knew this was the next post I had to do?

It’s been a strange week. I have a cold or flu or something that turned into a sinus infection, the kind that makes me want to unzip my face and take an ice cream scoop to the cavity of it. Gah.

And then most of my siblings are currently being tortured horribly by various girlfriends and boyfriends and I’m 1700 miles away, so I can’t punch anyone in the face. It has me wondering if there aren’t two kinds of people in this world: decent people (us) and lying, cheating, hurting, lying (and did I mention lying?) sons-of-bitches.

(At this point my siblings are simultaneously dialing my number to give me shit for being so unreasonable. Too bad; this is my blog. I’ll keep it reasonable in person, but here, I get to say whatever I want to).

(Provided I don’t mention names and places or write about work)

Then there’s The House. My former parents have sold their house. I say former because one parent, my dad, of course, remains my parent. The other, my stepmom of the past 15 years, now becomes our Former Stepmom. My ex-stepmother?

15 or so years ago, our parents built a house from the ground up, got married, and moved in all eight kids; five Dad’s, three hers. I was the oldest of the eight, almost out of high school and readying myself for my first year of University (by sleeping with a man three years older than me. Soooo mature).

Lots of people didn’t think it could work and it’s true, those were hard years for the family. My stepmom had her way of parenting (attendance to every need in a desperate race to win some as yet unseen Mother of the Year Award) and my dad had his way (Are you dying? Have you been arrested? Did your carburetor blow? No? Then go away. I'm late for my double shift).

The thing is, it’s not like they adopted each other’s way of parenting, or met each other halfway. They just started to parent separately. And it was completely unsustainable; my stepmom started to resent any of my dad’s kids' needs and weaknesses. My dad, meanwhile, scrambled for any scraps of her attention not reserved for her kids, largely ignoring his own five in the process. Throw into it that we were mostly teenagers and mostly girls, well, it created a whole lot of chaos and resentment, not to mention the screaming, yelling shit-fits.

But the thing is, it wasn’t all bad. Not at all. I like my stepmom. She is the kind of person who gains your confidence instantly. And I think my step-siblings appreciated the reliability and steadiness of my dad. Plus, we kids all started to get along, even becoming friends.

The best part was that the house that the parents built with their own hands became an anchor for everyone. No one really drifted away for long. Especially at Christmas. Christmas was big. The parents were united on that front; they worked their asses off to make it special for everyone. After years of my father’s lonely single parenting, it was so nice to see him happy, to have that big family to come home to. And when the grandkids started to come along, it all really started to feel like a real extended family. The grandkids wouldn't know differently.

But there were cracks. Mostly things that are none of my business. But things that Dad says he thought it would all mend itself once the kids left home. Well, the first problem is the kids never actually did fully leave home. Hell, even I lived there when I went back these last eight months.

And it soon became clear that the cracks were not just about the kids. They were not just cosmetic, minor signs of shifting or wood contraction. These were foundation problems. The kind you can’t fix. Even if you take a caulking gun to it. Even if you brace and re-pour. Even if you lift the entire foundation, set it on pilings sunk into bedrock, re-pour, and dry-wall the whole bloody thing.

Um, okay, I digress. The point is, it’s over. They packed up the house, sold it (these days, one packs first, then puts it on the market), and they’re out by June.

The fact that the house is gone is more affecting than I can properly express. Part of it, I suppose, is that it means my stepfamily is really gone. The ideal has been shattered and suddenly we find we are now no more than acquaintances. Just more people with whom to make awkward small talk when we run into each other.

And I’m not very good at small talk.

So, it's a bit sad.

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Blogger Schmutzie ~ 11:47 AM

I'm so sorry to hear that. I always hate knowing that families aren't necessarily forever. It's be easier if it were all like 1950s picture books.  

Anonymous James ~ 10:45 PM

I love personal posts. It's a good read. But I was left wondering, "How much did they get for the house?" And the thought that there should be relationship inspectors just like there are home inspectors.  

Blogger Jack ~ 11:39 AM

Aww, man. Now I am sad. I don't even know any of the affected, except you of course, but I am saddened deeply. I hope that things will become better for you, your Dad and the rest of your family.  

Anonymous alison ~ 5:52 AM

I always heard stories about that house though I never visited, and about the amazing family who inhabited it. I am sad to hear about the sale of the former and the dissolution of the latter.

My dad has just spent a fortune reconstructing the foundation of the house I grew up in, and which he now lives in, alone.  

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