The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

Near and Far June 30, 2012

This moment feels very surreal. Fareed and Elihu sit at the kitchen island, small computer before them, skyping with Elihu’s sister in England. Her mother and I are friends, we’ve many times compared notes on the sometimes outrageous behavior of our childrens’ father, and I know her to read the blog. I have no bad feelings towards her or her daughter, but nonetheless, it is a strange feeling to be in the next room of this tiny house listening to Fareed, Elihu and his sister talk. I don’t need to pretend I’m not hearing them, nor do I need to tiptoe around and pretend I’m not here. To tell the truth, I’m not sure this girl even has any real concept of me existing at all. I wonder sometimes, does she wonder? Does she ever wonder about her brother’s own mom? She is a few months older than Elihu, it can’t be too long before she begins to ponder this. But I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter I guess. For me, I cannot imagine being in her shoes – or those of Fareed’s other sons’. Hmm – are they in turn her little baby brothers?? Man, I guess so. But I’m not even sure she knows about them at all! Strange. I know that in the real world there are many such twisted familial relationships throughout many cultures – and that there have been all through history, it’s just that I myself never in a million years could have envisioned being personally involved in such a tangle.

Elihu’s baby brothers can’t have understood yet – in any meaningful way – that their brother has a different mother. I often wonder at the years yet ahead and how these relationships will evolve. Elihu loves his siblings very much, and he’s said many times to me that he hopes I can meet them one day. Just how will that work? I can, in fact, imagine seeing his sister and her mom. That would actually be enjoyable, I think. But how will it be to see Fareed’s ‘other’ woman and their two sons? I did send her an email last summer, thanking her for taking care of Elihu; an olive branch of sorts. But she didn’t respond. I simply can’t know how she thinks of me. The spin Fareed might be putting on our story. Does he paint me to be a shrew? A selfish bitch? I don’t know. And I can’t do much about it. But I will, no doubt, one day come face-to-face with the lot of them, and I want to weather it with as much grace as possible. Even today I think I would cry if I should see them in person. I don’t even know what the boys look like – although Fareed does tell me stories about them. I try to smile, try to listen without taking it personally. And I think I’m doing better at that. I know these kids have nothing to do with what went on between their mother, their father and me. So that helps. But it’s still bittersweet.

Elihu comes over to me and whispers ‘do you hear that, Mommy? She’s got a British accent!’ I listen for a moment, and yes, I hear the sweet little voice of a girl who no longer sounds like she’s from Denver. I almost want to say hello, but there’s no reason. I hear her mother, and I might say hello to her too, but for what? This is their call, and really, it’s not my business. Again, this moment just feels strange.

They are so far away, yet they are so intimately a part of our own lives. They seem as unrelated as strangers, and yet they clearly aren’t. Life sure is unpredictable and full of contradictions…

 

House Guest

Elihu’s father is here. He arrived on Thursday, and he leaves early tomorrow. More accurately, we drive him to the airport bright and early tomorrow. Which will be a bit of a feat in that we’ve just had two Fareed-style nights ending way past midnight. I don’t try much to change it; Elihu is so happy to have both his parents in the same place that I let the evening grow later and later, knowing that soon enough it will be a tiny, quiet house again with just we two.

My back is not much better. Fareed says I look like a pregnant woman from the back when I walk. I can either hunch over forward supported by a cane, or lean way back, waddling side to side. Not much room for comfort. I’m almost out of the muscle relaxers my local doc kindly prescribed for me a couple months ago during the last back episode, but thankfully have only to wait one more day for the chiropractor. I admit, I’m putting all my hopes in him. I don’t know how I’ll manage to make our proposed trip if I don’t get better. But honestly, I don’t know how we’ll make it anyway. A few kind people have been more than generous in our travel campaign, but in spite of sending out an additional hundred emails to friends and students, we haven’t received any donations besides those first few, so I’m really wondering how this can work.

And besides, I’m beginning to feel a little sick about my open solicitation for money. Was I too honest? I am poor, but do I need to be so blatant about it? I thought if I likened the gift to the purchase of an ice cream cone it might lighten things up a bit. Now I just don’t know. Without the benefit of a live audience I have no idea how my show is going over. I see the stats and discover that people in Pakistan are reading my posts. Relatives? I think first. Might they help us out? But no – it couldn’t be. The Haques fairly swept me under the family rug when Fareed changed families. (Jill and the boys are welcomed at family gatherings, while my absence has neither been explained nor asked about.) Besides, Riaz has always been the one to send money back home – not the other way ’round. I need to just relax about this. But I can’t! Between my back and students’ summer vacation plans I’ve already lost so much income these past two months. It’s crazy. I made less than half my usual take. So now what?

I’ll ask Fareed before he leaves.  Maybe there’s a soft spot in him somewhere. And I know there’s a cushion of some sort; after all, no matter how broke he tells us that he is, he always manages to take us out to dinner, he seems to have enough for impromtu purchases, admission tickets and such, and he has enough to take a bus and a taxi if need be. Maybe he can set aside his feelings that I’m asking too much – maybe he can for a moment picture his son visiting the Mayflower, seeing a whale, visiting with kids with Achromatopsia, seeing New York City for himself. Maybe. Sometimes I feel a little pang inside when I hear that Elihu has just had another ‘first’ visit to some place significant – and that he was there without me. But I set it aside, knowing that’s not really what’s important, that such thinking is more about me than Elihu’s own benefit. But still. I realize as the parent who’s not a part of much of his son’s life, it’s gotta sting. And to help fund that kind of event – to help make it possible in the first place – that might even hurt a little. I don’t know. But just like I did with you, I gotta ask.

You know how when it rains, it pours? Been a good summer storm over here recently. Thursday night, with back out, Fareed here (oh, did I mention I got pulled over en route to the airport for speeding – then got an additional seat belt violation cuz lil man was out of his seat, having a post-dentist appointment tantrum about not wanting to get braces? Sheesh.) and heat now soaring, I discover that the pipes that evacuate my kitchen skins both ruptured at the same time, and greasy, soapy water came cascading all over my kitchen floor as I stood doing the dishes after supper. Really? Ok. I can take it. Clean it up. Call the plumber. Friday morning the plumbers came. Did a nice job. Didn’t even take long, plus they had positive anecdotal stories about chiropractors. But last night, with a profound sinking of heart, I noticed that my beautiful (remember, it’s all relative, but for me, it is beautiful) laminate ‘wood’ floor began to buckle. And not only that, but small bubbles have formed just under the laminate. Crap crap crap. I allowed myself some bitter complaints last night, but today I will try my damned best to pretend that it’s all ok, and that in fact nothing has changed. And next week I’ll figure out what to do about the $500 plumber’s bill. For now, it’s moment by moment.

I did manage to get out of bed last night to shut all the windows after the house had cooled off. That’s key. By early afternoon the heat will have caught up with the tiny house, and we may have to find a distraction someplace else, but for now it is very pleasant inside. By the time the midday heat gets a hold of the place, we’ll probably be on the way to visit the local aviation museum – which will be especially meaningful for the boys as they have been making a wooden model of a WWII plane (for the past half dozen visits!) and to see the real things will no doubt be inspiring. The air conditioning will be inspiring too, I imagine.

The roosters are crowing, and I am reminded of how hot it must be getting in the coop. I’m going to go and let them out for the day – and this time, rather than keeping them behind their newly installed fence (the original culprit behind this wave of back trouble), I will in fact let them have the run of the place. Much cooler shade to be had in the trees, more cool grass and tasty bugs as well. So off I go, hopefully finding distraction in this and other domestic tasks so that the bubbling kitchen floor doesn’t grab a hold of me as it did last night. I’ll put the rug back. That should help.

Just wish my other concerns were as easy to remedy as throwing down a rug or seeing a house guest off on the plane.

 

Travel Campaign link:

http://www.gofundme.com/q1ke4