My bedroom has a tiny hallway that leads into the living room. It gives the illusion of space, has an etched glass mirror with a plaster frame. Lucia made both the frame and the mirror which talks about our friendship; it is one of my most valued possessions. On the other wall is a plaster mold, Lucia also made, based on a resin not frieze but something like that, Rafe’s brothers bought for him at The Met (Metropolitan Museum of art, too lazy to link now)
For years and probably still now, Little Luce was ashamed that we all had this frieze, for lack of the real word, of three women’s torsos. It’s very sensual. I understand. My parents had classical nudes, very tasteful, on the dining room wallpaper, and flocked Castrati’s on blue and silver wallpaper in the the main company bathroom that was also the one my sister and I shared. I’m still embarrassed about that one; my parents honestly didn’t know. I read a book on Castrati’s and had to show it to them. They did get rid of it for something 13 and 15 year old girls wouldn’t be ashamed of. But we had to live with it for three years.
My parents were overly involved parents for the time; my dad would have fit right in today but then he was in a class by himself. Not one that I would have liked him to be in. True, they went out every Saturday night; vacationed both with and without us. My mother told me that the key to successful parenting was time away from children, though she never used the word “parenting.”
Though they were away more frequently than most parents, my dad worked at home at least one day a week. This had disadvantages as he would just be there to tell me what to do and exactly how to do it. Then he would be angry when I couldn’t do things as he said I should have.
My sister and I had been home alone from the time I was nine. We lived in a garden apartment then, and a neighbor would make the rounds each hour in our 40 family court, on Saturday nights. During the day we would all be out anyway, unless it was pouring or under 20 degrees. Late spring through late fall we would be out until bedtime during the week, and until ten or midnight on weekends and summers.
My father working at home, had its advantages as I would go to the nurses office, call him and utter the “p” word, and he would come running. I know my mom told him the first time I got it, when I was eleven, on Halloween.
I begged her not to tell him, both before and after she told me that she would have to gently slap my face. Then she gave me ten dollars, which was a lot of money in the early 60’s. My mother seemed to believe that the depression was still on, and that my dad wasn’t a successful CPA, and investor.
I could tell from the way he tried not to smile when he looked at me; and the ten dollars was a dead give-away. My mother was good for one at the most, though she was generous with her time as she really listened to me, and never spoke down to me. My father didn’t also but he wanted me to be perfect so badly and I just wasn’t capable of being anyway near perfection. Both my parents valued my opinion; I always knew they thought I had good judgement and was smart. But there were times when my father made me feel worthless. He didn’t mean to, and somehow I always knew that, but it wasn’t easy being the most valuable one of my father’s possessions.
We moved to the house with the wallpaper on Halloween when I was twelve and I began school the next day. Hadn’t really thought of it in years before I began blogging intensely, but I used to call it the day of the doomed, or doomsday for short. It wasn’t a neighborhood where kids congregated all night in a communal court. It was a neighborhood with perfect lawns, perfect looking houses and people. My parents and sister could fake it; I couldn’t until tenth grade.
It was the world of today, yesterday, though I’m sure parents didn’t arrange play dates. My sister was in Fifth Grade and I was in Seventh when we moved; we were old enough to arrange our own activities, and had been for years.
Though every space on almost every wall in our house was utilized our house felt sterile to me. My father’s office and my room looked live in; the rest looked like a a living museum of the perfect tract house.
Sometimes when I go into my entry hall to the bedroom, I feel very close to my parents. Usually I like the feeling, but sometimes I really need my privacy. Sure that they understand.