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.