I finally got to share a bed with a boy in my parents’ house

Going home is difficult because people don’t stay where you left them last. They have an annoying habit of getting on with their lives. Moving away, finding partners, having babies and getting jobs that no longer allow them to roam around in old local bars for three days. Sometimes they die and there are more free places at the Christmas table than last year. Then you realize, while staring at a huge, unfinished dessert bowl wrapped in gladwrap, that it was actually Grandpa who took on the lion’s share of the little things.

The first Christmas without him was tough, especially for my mother, but his absence was really felt by the rest of us who swallowed us through the spasmodic pudding and jelly for days. We could only have done a minor little thing, but that felt disloyal. That would be an admission that he was actually gone and not coming back. It is much better to push yourself to the limit of lactose intolerance than to face it.

Sometimes you can stay away too long, or maybe it’s because you’ve always hated the place anyway. Then it will be less ‘going home’ and more ‘going somewhere where I used to live’. Going back can be painful because either everything or nothing has changed. The people there know too much about you or just know the past version of yourself. They haven’t renewed their subscription for your life, haven’t read up on who you have become, and that’s awkward. It causes you to face who you once were and not who you made up, apart from people who would have seen through it.

I once accidentally put a missed piece of aluminum foil in the microwave. Granted, I was 11 years old, but Mom doesn’t risk her good pots for me and my supposed improvement

My mother doesn’t let me cook when I come home. Attempts to prepare dinner will be rejected. I moved out of home young and never really cooked for my mom because I lived in college dorms and large, sprawling college dormitories that were scared of using the dirty toilet, let alone eating off the cutlery. On one of the rare occasions she saw me in a kitchen, I almost set it on fire. I accidentally put a missed piece of aluminum foil in the microwave. Granted, I was 11, but she doesn’t risk her good pots against me and my supposed improvement.

“Are you looking at that?” She eyed me suspiciously as I made a pre-approved little side dish last week. It was a bowl of couscous. You pour water on it and you’re done. It’s the adult version of pot noodles. There is no such thing as an open flame. However, her concern about the good bowl (not my health and safety) remained.

I discovered that my family still enjoys ruining TV shows for each other. Why sit down and follow the storylines when you can pop in and ask, “Oh, is she screwing him now, what happened to the husband? Whose baby is that? ”And then leave the room. Only to come back in five minutes and say, “Wait, I thought the guy died? Oh, you’re an episode behind us. Well, he’ll die the next. ”Thank you, that’s very helpful, papa. But it’s nice to keep traditions alive.

Another one that is still running will be given a towel by mom at the start of your stay. It will be your towel and your towel only. To be guarded with your life. God help you if you lose it or mistake it for someone else’s. She’s got her ears pecked at the exact number of times the linen closet hinges open when you’ve got the eggs to try to smuggle in another. She has enough to do without washing the “fifty” towels that we seem to all use and throw away every day. To be fair, she washes so much every day that it turns brownish when it’s on a leash outside. However, two towels are allowed on the day of shampooing. After all, my mother is a compassionate woman.

I suspect after a lifetime of trying to get rid of guys, at this late stage they realized that they want to dump me on someone who will take me soon if they want grandchildren

Sometimes the people you leave change and you stay the same. I texted mom and my partner a week before my arrival to ask about our sleep arrangements. “We have put a new double bed in your room.” “For whom?” I asked tiredly. “For both of you,” came the reply, impatient, as if I were a little fat. This from someone who NEVER allowed me to sleep in the same room as a boy in my parents’ house. YES, EVEN IF WE LIVE TOGETHER. Finally I can have a double bed in my room (as you know, sex has never happened in a single bed).

I just had to wait until I was 31. I suspect after a lifetime of trying to get rid of guys, it was at this late stage that they realized that they wanted to hand me over to someone who will soon take me away if they want grandchildren. So, true to mom’s word, when we arrived there was actually a double bed in my room. Not even two single beds separated by an anti-sex bedside table. However, I still won’t be holding his hand in front of my family. We are still Irish despite the Australian dilution. Not Americans.

Places and people don’t change at the same rate. The things we want to change don’t. The things that we want to stay the same eventually change. That’s why I had to go back. Before that, there is still a free space at the dining table.

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