Hepcat's mother is coming to visit for a few days to see The Gates in Central Park. She'll be arriving at 5 a.m. in the morning (Jet Blue's red-eye from Oakland gets in bright and early.)
Smartmom spent much of the day thinking about ways to make the apartment appear less cluttered, less crowded than it really is. She and Beautiful Smile rearranged the living room; they moved the green leather couch against the window and put the big, red club chair where the couch used to be. They cleaned, and cleared things away and threw out as much as they could. Hepcat, of course, picked through the garbage before it left the apartment. But that's to be expected.
Early evening, Smartmom went for a four-and-a half-mile run with her Half-Marathon group. It was the first group run since the truiumph of their 10-mile race. A full moon night, the blue grey sky was speckled with stars. Smartmom found herself running beside Coach Kane, who kept telling her to relax, to slow down, to take it easy. It was good advice.
When she got home she asked Hepcat one last time to clean his portion of the living room, the part of the living room that has become his de-facto photography studio and office. It is unbearably cluttered with computer equipment, photography equipment, wires, boxes, magazines, manuals, books, and other sundry detritus. Her request made him very exasperated and he told her that the real mess in the living room, the REAL MESS, was hers! He then pointed to a small gaggle of things on the metal table: a stapler, a pair of binoculars, some CD's, this and that. It was such an obvious diversionary tactic that Smartmom found herself ENRAGED. So enraged, she could barely speak for the rest of the evening.
And she cried. Bitter, angry, weary tears all alone in their bedroom. (And no, she's not pre-menstrual!)
This is a battle they've been fighting for too many years. Their domestic styles just don't mesh - any professional could tell you that. Hepcat with his packrat tendencies and Smartmom with her desire for a home she can feel proud of. On the eve of a visit from her mother-in-law, she is at her most vulnerable. And Hepcat just doesn't care.
When Smartmom regained her composure, when her tears were dry, she said to herself: "Fuck it, she's HIS mother. Let her see the way he really lives. Why should I shield her from the truth?"
Smartmom and Hepcat are not speaking. His mother arrives early. The apartment is, for the most part, clean. Hepcat's portion of the living room looks like a tornado zone.
When Hepcat's mother arrives, Smartmom will feel embarassed about the living room. She will be ashamed to be the kind of person who lets her living room look the way it does. The Judge, Ms. Measurement, and Fun House Mirror will all be attendance to make Smartmom feel even worse.
A party with all her old friends in Hepcat's messy part of the living room. Fun.
Hepcat just came back from a quick trip to the local market to buy coffee. He brought Smartmom flowers. Guess he's trying to make amends. But Smartmom is ignoring the flowers, ignoring his gesture. She can't bring herself to look at him tonight...or the flowers...
Before she went to sleep, Smartmom put the flowers in a vase. They are, actually, quite pretty...quite pretty they are. Deep purple tulips.