Monday, July 07, 2014

Tyler/Lauren: Status quo

I don't know why, but I figured I would be the "newbie" on this little blog for at least a while, since it doesn't seem like that many people who stay at the Inn, overall, find it (or bother, if they do.) I told Carrie she could contribute if she liked, but she's not much of a writer. As to those who have recently joined "the club" I don't have much in the way of advice, or even comfort. But, uh, good luck I guess?

(Fact about me: I am bad with sympathy/feelings, just ask anyone who's seen me at a funeral.)

I want to write a lot, but I find myself stuck on the fact that nothing is happening, besides the constant background noise of the family, and Lauren's friends constantly sending her pointless texts that I am obligated to answer back. This generation, I swear, if they can't constantly be in touch with each other they don't know where they are. It's affecting me, too: I'm constantly checking the phone to see if I missed something. Besides that, I think that if I didn't look the way I do, this would almost be a dream existence: all this free time and no responsibility, no job, nobody to look out for. Instead, I'm facing boredom bordering on depression.

Lauren's friends have provided a surrogate entertainment system for me. I've dropped into their lives like one might a soap opera (do those still exist?) It's confusing at first, but once you get to know the characters you become intrigued by their lives. I'm making little diagrams, with Lauren's help, of who's dating who, who dated in the past, who she's on good terms with, who she hates (publicly and privately) who hates her (publicly and assumed) etc etc. Add Seann to that list, who has repeatedly posted the word "whore" on her Facebook wall (although the first time it was "hoar." So there's that.) I find it a little sad that I find this somehow more stimulating than studying for hours on end. I promise not to bore you with the details unless they somehow become relevant. (I mean, what's relevant anymore? Or irrelevant, for that matter?)

More important is what I know about the family. Lauren's mother Susan was married to Paul Sherman for only two years or so - it would seem to be a shotgun wedding, if I've got the timeline right. He moved around a lot, and kept only barely in touch while Susan raised the kid on her own. Sometime later she met Albert Blanchard, who already had a daughter named Tasha  (b. 1992) and was either already divorced, or getting divorced, or maybe still married, Lauren didn't seem to know the full story, and I don't blame her. Tasha and Lauren did grow up together a little bit, because Tasha's mother briefly lost custody to Albert while she was unemployed. Then Tasha turned 18 and moved out on her own.

Susan doesn't really like Tasha, Albert is pretty distant toward Lauren. I think they reckon since she's almost done high school and they've got these other two kids about to hit puberty they can leave Lauren to her own devices... or at least palm her off on her big stepsister. That don't mean they ain't keeping tabs on her - I can't hardly leave the house without them asking where I'll be and who with.

They're not poor - Lauren gets an exorbitant allowance compared to what I got when I was that age (I had an afterschool job, Lauren seems barred from getting one) - but they're not thriving as a one-point-five income family with three mouths to feed, in a bad economy... part of the shrinking middle class, as Meghan pointed out to me.

Susan works part-time as a maid, which counter-intuitively seems to explain why the house isn't overly clean: she doesn't bring her work home with her. She looks permanently exhausted, with bags under her eyes and probably a bit prematurely aged, only in her early 40s but looking a decade older. Albert's a skinny guy who is probably about my old height, and bald except on the sides. He manages a fried chicken place (hello Breaking Bad?) so he's the breadwinner, and brings work home a few nights a week. This is infinitely preferable to Susan's cooking, no offense to her: it's a lot of mac & cheese, hamburger helper, meatloaf... basic meals that remind me of the less pleasant parts of my youth.

I'd kill for a pizza. But anyway, Lauren's constitution and appetite means I don't eat a ton of this stuff anyway. Lauren's skinny, and I know enough about teenage girls to guess why. I don't aim to make a ton of changes to her life, but I would like to get her healthy, enough so that it's not so easy to see her ribs. There's this frustrating clash between what I want to eat and what I can handle eating, which leads to an irritable Tyler.

In fact, speaking of my mood... I don't know, I find myself slightly more emotionally volatile than I am normally. Things that irritate me bother me, that I used to just shrug off as "the way of the world" suddenly strike me down in my core, and I find myself wanting to drop everything and hide in my room. I've become a literal teenager, probably due to swirling hormones mixed with the actual trauma and the fact that, well, there's a lot going on in this life to stress me out and trigger these little moments. I just chafe at being pulled this way and that by Lauren's social group, her family, and my own urge to fuck off and run away. Meghan might be satisfied to know I actually did break down and cry a few times in the last few weeks

Besides the parents, there's also the twins, 11-year-old Kylie and Kevin, running around. Kevin's a little brat (not my first choice of word either) always bringing his friends over and loudly playing XBox. Kid's got a mouth on him, let me tell you. Kylie's at gymnastics three nights a week, so I hardly even saw her until school got out. She's pretty well-behaved, except when she loses her cool, then she wails like a banshee.

She's also got some weird boundary issues. We were at the mall a few weeks ago, and she had me take her into a certain ladies apparel place, where she remarked that she hoped when she grew up she looked more like Tasha than Lauren. Then she puffed out her top with her hands to demonstrate what she meant.

Um... kay. I did not think girls thought much about that before it happened. But it's no different from my friends and I all comparing muscles and pit hair when we were that age (hint: we didn't have much. Yet.)

There's one other thing I've been doing... somewhat reluctantly, somewhat because I'm interested. Lauren was in singing lessons, on Thursday nights, and while I can't exactly pick up where she left off, something tells me Lauren was not that great of a student because nobody seemed all that alarmed by the warbling, self-conscious, off-key rendition of "Do Re Mi" I let off. Still, there are worse hobbies to pursue, I suppose. Beats gymnastics. And slightly easier to fake your way through.

That's pretty much the lowdown on my life, for now, the status quo as it is. When I can, I spend time with Meghan, although with her working nights and me in school there wasn't a lot of time for that until recently. I'll leave it to her to tell you about her life, because for all I know there's things she doesn't want to tell the internet.

I guess all this is my way of defensively wondering if it's a problem how settled I've gotten within a month. I referenced the "Lauren-shaped" dip in the bed, and I feel that's like a perfect metaphor for what's going on. How fucked up it is that this life is all set up for me, and it's not what I'm used to, and even more than a bit uncomfortable, but... it's shaped for me. For Lauren, who I happen to currently be.

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