Shopping for a Home

house1So now I have to find a house. I’ve been living with and caring for my mother for four years and each year they increase the rent. In January, a letter will arrive announcing the increase in rent and asking us to decide if we want to sign a new lease or move on. Moving on is not so simple with an eighty-three year old who is ill. That’s why we’ve stayed the last four years, in spite of the annual increase in rent. I guess they (that infernal, nebulous ‘they’) are trying to improve the housing market by making it cheaper to pay a mortgage, then it is to rent an apartment. Hence, I am looking to purchase a home.

This entire exercise is completely outside of my comfort zone. I’ve never owned a home or even thought of owning one before. Ever since I was five (and that was a long time ago-just take my word for it), I’ve been moving. At that time, the average cost of a small house was just under $5,000. And if you wanted to splurge, you could find a six room ranch home in Pennsylvania for $12,900. Now, I’ll be lucky to find a decent home less than $200,000. Last year, when they raised the rent I foresaw my present predicament. I knew they would just keep doing this and that it would be beyond our means to stay.

My demons weren't this cute
My demons weren’t this cute

This gave me motivation to finally write that book. You know, the one that everyone wishes they could write. But honestly, it has been my secret desire to become an Author since my mother read the Chronicles of Narnia to me at five months’ gestation. A desire confirmed by my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Possis, who insisted my poems were inspired. When I finally read the Chronicles on my own, I wished I could properly thank C.S. Lewis for the countless hours of magic that the Wardrobe gave me. What better way to return the favor then to give some magic back to young readers. I shoved my ‘you can’t do it’ demons in an empty shoebox under the bed (I wanted to put them down the garbage disposal, but years of attachment wouldn’t let me chuck them altogether) and tied myself to my desk chair.

image3356Countless hours and an expanded buttocks later, I finished my book. I took an online class to learn how to publish it and put it up on Smashwords and Amazon, both.  I felt so accomplished. I really did it! But as I skipped over the top of that daunting ‘write a book’ hill, I came face to face with a sheer ‘market the book’ cliff. The consequent mutiny of the demons under my bed finished me off. I don’t know what I was thinking. How could I be so delusional? I had this naïve idea that suddenly people would start buying my book and I would be able to afford that home. What’s a few dollars for a well-written book? I mean people pay more for a Starbuck’s coffee every day. Well…I plan to learn more about marketing. But first I have to round up those demons. I’ll need a bigger box…and a padlock or superglue…

Misconstrued Second Glance

town-1360594_1920_croppedI was thinking about this today. When I walk by someone on the street or as I stand waiting for my son’s gymnastics lesson to finish and see all the other parents waiting. These people I have never met and may never know, but with whom I share  a few moments of time, our paths momentarily crossing.  In one glance, I see their hair, their clothing, their posture, whatever, and right away I create a framework of assumptions. I classify them in my mind without realizing that I am doing it. Mostly it’s a blur, I don’t even pay attention to it anymore, all wrapped up in my own worries and thoughts. But sometimes, when I come upon an individual that sits outside my general assumptions, I take note.

Curiosity requires another glance, further examination. How many ways my second glance could be misconstrued?  The individual could feel measured and thus analyzed become defensive and rude. Or do as I do, immediately detailing my many personal flaws and wondering which fault has elicited a second glance from a stranger. Often, I am surprised and gladdened by a third unexpected reaction, the individual acknowledges the glance with an open, heart-felt smile. The pull of that genuine smile flows into my heart and, involuntarily, I find myself smiling, too. For a moment, everything is good.

This all means something to me, because, literally I am that individual that sits outside of the common. I was born in America and I feel like America is mine, not only because I was born here, but because I have lived here for so long. I have always walked on America’s soil, fully confident that I belong here. I have never been a conformist, but neither have I demanded conformity from others. I love all creation and step through my world assuming the best of everyone I meet. My most powerful gift is a readiness to share my smile, a sincere wish for the happiness of all human beings, and an overwhelming drive to exercise intellect and spirit.

maria-1798792_1920
Blessed Mary, mother of Jesus

I am so comfortable with my journey that I falter, baffled when I rub up against open hostility, particularly a hostility inspired not by my actions, nor by my words, but merely as a result of my attire. You see, I am a Muslim and I have chosen to wear a head covering. As a young girl, I always felt drawn to beloved Mary, the mother of Jesus. Her purity and sweetness protected beneath flowing robes. Her head covering represented the peak of piety. For me to accept the head covering felt entirely natural and an extension of the deep love and respect I always felt for her. I find it ironic that a society that claims to love her, fails to see the beauty of her attire.

I do understand though. There are some who allege to be Muslim who have by their actions tainted the reflection of my selected faith. But they are not me and I am not them. I would hope to be judged by my own actions and interactions. I am a mother, a daughter, an aunt, a sister, a friend. I want the best for my children and all children of this world. Regardless of faith, we are all human beings.

Can you count to infinity?

pay-937884_1280_croppedThere was this kid in high school, I will never forget. At this point in my life, I am ashamed to admit, high school is a blur. I can literally count on my one hand kids that I will never forget, for one reason or another. Quite pitiful, isn’t it? That time period in which I was so absorbed with my appearance and when friends meant EVERYTHING, can be reduced to my five fingers. And one of those five fingers is allotted to the kid I mentioned above, who wasn’t even a friend and was barely an acquaintance.

I even remember his name, Tony. I rarely interacted with him. I’m sure he wouldn’t even remember my name or my presence. In fact, he is likely sitting somewhere busy in his world and has absolutely no idea that someone out there is remembering him. That thought leads me to wonder how many people could be sitting out there remembering me at this moment.

Nah...nothing this ominous...likely school supplies
Nah…nothing this ominous…likely school supplies

So, Tony was the classic nerd type. He carried a large, black briefcase with him to school, which pretty much singled him out right there. I always wondered what exactly he had inside that thing. Anyway, the reason why he is so memorable to me is that he claimed that he could count to infinity. I’m totally serious. He insisted that he could count to infinity. I asked him one day how he could do that and he said he would just start counting and never stop. I told my mom and she said, “Don’t make fun of him. He’s probably a genius.”

I still don’t understand why people assume that attempting the impossible equals genius. There are two kinds of impossible. The impossible that is actually probable, if you work very hard to achieve it and the impossible that is down right IMPOSSIBLE, like counting to infinity.

Infinity implies that there is no end. You could count to your deathbed, to your last breath, and there would still be counting to do. You would have counted your entire life and still not achieved your goal. How depressing. Its much like saying that Objective Reality does exist. Reality exists because we perceive it. Perceiving it makes it immediately subjective. We can attempt objectivity, but the truth is our perceptions will always be bound. Better to accept the impossible and focus on the attainable. This very well may be the only life we get.

Time Fillers

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It is as though I am trying to stay one step ahead of my thoughts, as if they could never catch me. When I pause, I flounder. So I fill each waking moment with random thought. When there is nothing pressing to attend to, I find myself opening solitaire. Game after game. I fill the gaps of time with nonsensical busy-ness. I list to-do items that really have no relevance. Time fillers. Having achieved these mundane tasks I feel temporarily successful. I fit in. I have fulfilled the mundane, therefore, I am.

mom2I leave to run an errand and glimpse her sitting there. In the rocking chair, in the corner of her room, facing the door so she can see our comings and goings. She  spends all her time watching DVDs or Netflix, an absorbed expression on her face, brows furrowed; lips turned in a smile, twisted in grief; lights from the screen flickering across, through, between the deep folds of skin. Folds etched, a record of pain and happiness, satisfaction, expectations achieved and not. I wonder is she really there or has she lost herself in that world.

Her loneliness is palpable. I can’t bear it. I don’t think she recognizes it as loneliness, so who am I to say. Little things confuse her now. Is it Thursday? No it is Monday, but she can’t keep it straight. Do I go to the doctor today? You went yesterday, Mom. I can do anything. I really don’t mind repeating, speaking with love when I feel annoyed that she does not get it.  But when I feel the reality of her ness, that is when I falter. Her state of being on the edge, the precipice between this world and…she stands there, wavering to and fro. And she has no grasp of what is next.

Should that be comforting, or terrifying, having no idea of what comes next?

Out of respect I don’t often leave without telling her where I am going. Sometimes I long to slip out without her knowing where I am off to…but that just feels rude. Although, it does have its appeal, to just leave and go about without having to account for myself, where I am going or when I will return. We are so bordered by our responsibilities, our courtesies. Smothering.