Home Sweet Home

10687003_10205181771214795_4253426716890030084_nWhen I travel home from Detroit I usually spend some time fantasizing about what it would be like to move back there and live in a bigger house with a garage, a garage that could actually fit a car. Maybe this house would even have a basement and a second bathroom? I imagine what it would feel like to afford more stuff…stuff like, I don’t know, new furniture.

I fantasize about quitting my job and becoming an artist. I’d maybe live in Cass Corridor (which, by the way, is way cooler than it was when I went to Cass Tech in the 80’s) and dabble in some urban farming like the hipsters do. I’d ride my bike around town and bring homegrown organic mixed lettuces to a stand at the Eastern Market.  I stare at the clouds outside the airplane window and ponder the big question of why I try to raise children as a single mom somewhere so expensive as the Bay Area when I could live somewhere affordable, like Detroit?

But then as I approach the SFO tarmac, as we glide in just above the water, I remember this is the rugged path that my heart followed all the way from Michigan 25 years ago and this is my home now.  It’s true I don’t have much room or savings, but I love my simple life on the northern coast of California.

Recently I came across a list for simplifying…ideas for “eschewing chaos for peace and spending your time doing what’s important to you”.  It really resonates with me. Maybe some of you will find it interesting if not helpful. Simplifying is a lifelong process I’m in the middle of…and just to clarify, I don’t agree with having a wardrobe of all solids that match each other unless you are a park service ranger. It’s just too boring. But the other things, they seem worth thinking about if not striving for– especially spending more time with people you love.

Here it is…

short list:
1. identify what’s most important to you
2. eliminate everything else
longer list:
simple living manifesto

No-Sleepovers

It’s no secret that I hate sleepovers. Every time I get an evite for my kid to attend one, a feeling of dread comes over me and then pity for the parent who got conned into hosting it.

The tricky thing is, once your kid gets wind of it, which is often weeks before the evite hits your inbox and probably months before the parent hosting it even knows they’re hosting it, saying no is next to impossible.

Since I don’t host them any more, I don’t worry about being personally exhausted by one, but I do think about two things that are enough to make me hate them: 1) my kid being a crabby mess for at least four days afterwards and 2) head lice. Is it just me, or is it true that every time your kid goes to a sleepover, you get a follow up text or email “Opps. I’m SO sorry. Check your kid…we just found out one of the kids at the sleepover has head lice”?

But telling your kid “okay, sure, you can go to the sleepover, but you have to sign a contract with me saying 1) you will not be crabby pants the week after and 2) you will wear a shower cap the entire time and 3) if you are a crabby pants, you won’t get to use your _(fill in the blank)_electronic device for like a year” seems hard to enforce.

If someone disagrees with my stand on sleepovers, they usually tell me I’m being a party pooper. They themselves have fond memories of sleepovers as a kid….to which I say “what-EVER”…call me after you host one… and they do. They always call me after. When they’re exhausted and their house is a total upside down mess, I’ll get the call…”OMG! I should’ve listened to you. My house is a total f-in mess…they stayed up until 3 am making all kinds of noise and woke up at 6 am wanting pancakes…So and so barfed… and I just got a call that so and so has head lice. Sleepovers suck.”

I just nod and listen and say how sorry I am (cause even if they thought they wanted to host one, I don’t wish my friends ill will) … and I brace myself for the next evite to hit my inbox , which just happened this morning.

Valet

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Valet parking feels wrong to me on several levels, not the least of which being unnecessary exposure to scrutiny. But there I was in North Beach, a block away from Park Tavern, where I was supposed to meet friends, unable to find a parking spot and with no choice but to use valet parking.

I looked around at the clutter inside my car and thought, ok then, what can I stash? All I could think of was to hide a fork that had rice stuck to it, in the little storage compartment between the two front seats. The rest was hopeless. As I pulled up, I reassured myself by thinking this man, who just happened to be impossibly good looking, was human too. I imagined his bedroom being a wreck. As I handed him the keys I said “excuse the mess”, smiled and added “welcome to my life”. He smiled back and called out to me as I ran away “Hey”. I turned around, worried the car wouldn’t start or something, but instead he said, in a lovely Italian accent, “Enjoy your dinner, ok?”.  I smiled saying, “Thanks, I will” and I promptly forgot about my car and the entire interaction while I enjoyed dinner with my friends.

What happened after dinner was straight out of a movie really…

The same valet stood across the street smiling as if he were waiting for me.  I fantasized that we were going to take off somewhere romantic, until I remembered (oh right!) he is waiting for me… but not really. He’s waiting for me to pick up my mess of a car. Suddenly self-conscious, I thought about how totally crazy it was that this handsome man was standing there with my car door open, waiting for me to cross the street. I wished he’d just put the hazard lights on, shut the door and bring me the keys, but instead, he waited for me like a gentleman until the traffic cleared. When I got to him, he said something (his accent was pretty strong) along the lines of “did you know your engine light is on?”. Oh God, that too? I hadn’t even thought about the engine light that has been on for a couple of weeks. “Yes, thanks! ” kicking myself for not getting the engine looked at yet. I tried to say good-bye and close the door, but he leaned in closer saying “I see you take in a lot of physical activity.”

I was so confused. It seemed like a pick up line, but it didn’t seem even remotely close to reality. I look like I take in lots of physical activity?  I’m thinking um…no I don’t…but then I looked around my car to see the following (and I am not exaggerating): a rip stick, a hockey stick, a basketball, roller blades, a skateboard.. and then what he was referring to…a soccer ball.. in the front seat rolling around with three water bottles. HA! He thinks this is all mine! When I confessed it all belongs to my ten year old son, he leaned in even closer with an even bigger smile, almost offering personal lessons, but stopped himself with “Tell him to keep playing. It’s a wonderful game. I used to play professionally.” Smiling I told him I would do that and I handed him a few dollars.

I drove away with my mess and my engine light (still) on, considering the idea that maybe I could like valet parking after all. And four years later… come to think of it, I wonder if he’s still there? Anyone wanna meet me at Park Tavern?