A Shared Life
By: Sheana Ochoa
If you’ve followed my blog, you know that in recent days I went from being a single mother by choice to an engaged mother and life partner. We (suddenly it’s become “we” instead of “me”) gave ourselves a month and a half to find an apartment, which turned into six eager, disappointing, exhausting weeks before finally finding where we now call home: Noah’s bedroom is too small to play in; the kitchen cupboards are too short to fit cereal boxes; there’s not enough closet space for my clothes; there’s no appointed parking (which should’ve been a non-negotiable, living in LA); there’s no grass in the back; the rent is higher than we wanted to pay. Despite all my complaints, I’m grateful to be living in such a lovely, large apartment with high ceilings and hardwood floors. And more importantly, we are an official family living under the same roof.
Finding domestic bliss did not happen over night. Throughout my thirties, I fell down and got back up again more than once and I’m still getting my legs back, but I’m up. Life was sad and frightening at times and joyful and free at others. Mostly, it was falling in love enough with myself so that I could do so with a child and husband. Love works that way; otherwise, your hang-ups will keep you from finding a long-lasting partner. You have to have enough for yourself to give it away and still feel whole.
Relationships are like mirrors and even though we all seem to be looking for one, life is easier alone. Who wants to look at herself and all her flaws of self-pity and self-righteous anger and defensiveness? The difference for me now is, I guess when my flaws rear their head, I catch them more quickly instead of letting them run riot like a snag in a stocking; I take out the clear nail polish quickly before it gets to the point where I can’t wear the stockings again. I’m finding in my case, it’s mostly restraint of tongue –both with my relationship with my fiancé and that with my toddler. I have to be patient, listen, and choose kind words.
For the past seven days I’ve packed a house, moved it, and unpacked it, plus that of my fiancé’s. I’m tired. There are still boxes everywhere and nowhere to put things like games, old photograph albums, and office supplies. I rarely get the opportunity to test my strength because of the fibromyalgia, but it seems that my fiancé, Jordan, is as exhausted as I am so I feel kind of normal. At this point, we have a functioning kitchen with food in the fridge; the television and couch are etched out among boxes and clutter so we can watch a movie at the end of the night if we want; and the necessary toiletries have been unpacked. Wonder of all wonders: most of our clothes are even put away, though we’re using the coat closet, hall closet, and Noah’s closet to do so. The Internet was finally turned on yesterday, allowing me to write this blog. And after contacting the Los Angeles Times this morning to deliver to my new address, I have finally finished all the address changes.
It doesn’t feel like home though, and I’m not sure why. Perhaps, it’s because I’ve never really made a home for anyone other than myself before. Maybe it’s because as we unpack our books we’re throwing out double copies, and every time one of mine goes, I feel as if a part of my history is being deleted. Maybe it’s because I don’t know where I will do my grocery shopping. Maybe it’s because my belated companion and best friend, the sweetest doggy in the world, isn’t coming to this new home with me as she had the previous twelve years whenever I relocated. Maybe it’s because I don’t recognize this Sheana, returning to wedding plans as the house gets settled.
I’m planning a wedding, the ceremony to celebrate living a shared life. I think I’m pretty good at sharing in general, but when it comes to sharing decisions, a household, disciplining Noah, I don’t have that much experience. While this new, shared life sinks in, I realize I have no context for it. I feel as if I’m in a foreign country and not only do I not speak the language, but the alphabet is so different I can’t even make educated guesses. And so we –and not just Jordan and I, but Noah, too –we all create this family each day. I’m looking forward to the time when anywhere we three go feels like home. For now, I’ll do what we all end up doing in times of transition: practice.
[Photo Credit: @kevin033]