Monday, May 23, 2011

A game of telephone

I was in the shower when he walked into the bathroom to give me the message.

"Your mom called to say that if you need a printer for pictures of The Kid's banana - whoa, that sounds weird - you can use hers."

I giggled. "Pictures of The Kid's banana" doesn't sound right out of context. (It's for a school project and involves taking pictures of a stuffed banana engaged in various activities. Perfectly innocent, I promise.)

And then I grinned. "You answered the phone?!"

"I did. There was a sleeping baby..."

"You answered the phone!" I repeated. "You live here!"

The Man moved into our house over a year ago. Since then, we have put a vegetable garden in the back yard. We have planted a beautiful Japanese maple. We have gutted and remodeled a kitchen. We have had a baby. We have assembled freshly purchased Ikea furniture, people. We have done these things together, in this house.

And yet he still isn't comfortable answering the phone.

"You can answer the phone, you know," I've said on more than one occasion, sometimes as an invitation and sometimes as a plea. But the resulting conversation is always the same.

"It's not my phone."

"Yes it is. You live here."

"But it's not my phone."

"It's the home phone. It's our home. It's our phone."

The conversation always ends with him shaking his head and the phone continuing to ring.

I can't pretend that I don't understand. I own the house. My name is on the mortgage. I look around the room I'm sitting in, and all of these things are my things. My furniture. My decorations. My dishes. Granted, after 3 cross-country moves in 2 years, he arrived at my doorstep with relatively few possessions. Still, I think it would feel more like home to him if we'd moved into a new place together. Even if we still filled that new place with mostly my stuff, we'd both be starting there together. Instead, he had to try to insert himself into a home already in progress.

Sometimes I wish we could empty the house and start all over; empty all of our possessions onto the front lawn and then rearrange them inside in some way that only he and I could imagine. I would love to repaint the living and dining rooms a color that we choose together; would love to reinvent our bedroom; would love to create a place he feels is as much his as it is mine. It's just not in the cards right now.

But today, he answered the phone.

Sure, maybe it was because The Baby was sleeping and, with me in the shower, his only option was to answer it. But he answered it.

Because he lives here. In our house.

It's a small thing, but it's a big small thing.

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