Sunday, April 03, 2005

How the Other Half Lives

Now Smartmom knows how the other half lives. Literally. Her other half. While their friends from Kingston slept in their apartment on Third Street, the Smartmom clan slept at her twin sister's a few blocks a way.

Groovy Aunt and Bro-in-Law, who were away for the weekend, have an immaculate place - no clutter, no mess. And everything is brand new - coffeemaker, televisions, stainless steel refrigerator, granite counters. It helps that they don't have kids yet (they're adopting a little girl from Russia in a few months) because they're both neatniks and everything has to be just so.

Much as Smartmom would love to live this way, it just doesn't seem possible in her apartment, with Hepcat and Teen Spirit and OSFO. Their pad is chock full of things - clothing, books, computer equipment, school papers, toys. They're four people with lots of combined interests, activities and STUFF.

Smartmom would be lying if she said she wasn't jealous of the way Groovy Aunt lives. It's so calming to be there. There's nothing to distract you from the lovely colored walls, the Arts and Crafts pottery, the framed prints on the wall, the view of Prospect Park out their window.

In this regard, Smartmom and Groovy Aunt more different. Or maybe they just made different choices. Groovy Aunt has always been the more visual one. Even in elementary school - she was the artist and Smartmom the musician (violin and later guitar) Now Groovy Aunt is in the film biz and Smartmom is writer. They've always staked out different areas to throw ourselves into. It was a coping strategy, a way not to step on each other's toes.

Their husbands are quite different, too. Hepcat is a lovable packrat with an inability to part with even the most mundane piece of paper. He collects cameras and computer equipment, books, and strange things like Greek diner coffee cups.

Smartmom's brother-in-law is compulsively neat. His closet says it all: suits, shirts, pants and ties are arranged in something akin to alphabetical order. He has not one, but two dressers full of perfectly folded clothing, and his shoes are lined up on the closet floor.

Suffice it to say, Hepcat has an very different approach to things.

Serenely elegant, Groovy Aunt and Bro-in-Law have a sumptuous brown leather couch, an entertainment armoire, built-in bookcases, a dining room set - it truly could be featured in a magazine. It's that nice.

To be honest, Smartmom's place is a little more rococo, decorated as it is with antique furniture handed down or found on the street. There are a few items, like the green leather sofa from Ikea, and the Noguchi coffee table, that they actually picked out and bought. It's a hodge-podge at best, a well-intended one, but a hodge-podge just the same.

So Smartmom spent the weekend comparing herself to Groovy Aunt; a natural thing for siblings to do. But it's not really all that fun as it bring up subtle shades of sibling rivalry. It wouldn't be that hard to redecorate, she kept thinking, to throw things away and organize what we have...

So despite the calming decor and the world's most comfortable bed, Smartmom didn't sleep that well at Groovy Aunts. The traffic noise on Prospect Park West and the rain on their bedroom air conditioner had her up at one-hour intervals. It's always strange sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, with unfamiliar noises.

Smartmom had to conclude that even if it's not quite right, there's no place like home. Simply because it belongs to you.


At 5:53 PM, Blogger mamainwaiting said...

I enjoyed reading your impressions of our apartment and how we live - I don't think Jeff's closet is alphabetized, but I gues it might as well be ... I'm glad you enjoyed your stay and were also able to appreciate that there is no place like your own home. xo MIW

At 11:17 AM, Blogger Udge said...

That sibling rivalry is quite a thing, isn't it? Watching my father and his brothers suggests that it nevers stops.

My sister's house is in a similar introspection-inducing relation to mine as MIW to yours: she has the knack of making a place that's truly "homey", whereas I just live somewhere. It is a style to which I could gladly aspire, but I am too messy to live it as she does, and I suspect that the non-mess is a large part of the success. I'll have to work on it.

My sincerest apologies for the comment on RFJ, it's been an "interesting" week :-(

(Apologies also if this appears umpteen times, Blogger keeps chucking "failed, try again" messages at me.)

At 6:57 AM, Blogger Little Light said...

It's funny how we all perceive what others have differently. My thought was that mama has all new things because they just got married and moved into that apartment. And of course, it's easier to keep a house cleaned with no children in it.

I think my situation is beyond comparing - my sister lives in a big, beautiful house in Iowa - I live in a 250 sq. foot studio in Manhattan - cie la vie.


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