Monday, September 12, 2022

Jonah/Krystle: Settling In

You ever feel like you have a moment when every adult responsibility you've got doubles in intensity?  That's what the last few weeks have been like.  I thought getting pregnant and having Moira would be as big a jump as it gets, but then I got the promotion, and it has been absolutely crazy since.

Part of it's me.  The Inn sort of has a tendency to freeze your idea of who you "should" be at the point where you changed, and somewhere underneath all of this, I think of myself as still a kid having to fake being an adult, but I'm not - "Junah" graduated from college, so there's no going back to that status quo.  I'm in my mid-twenties and folks think I'm in my late twenties, so I'm not some sort of teen mom, but a grown-ass woman.

Still, it's been a lot.  After getting the promotion, I had to find a place to live in New Orleans remotely, and once I had that more or less figured out, I had an idea of Moira's new school district, so I could go through the process of getting her enrolled, and also out of Cambridge's system.  That's when I told my five-year-old that, no, she didn't have to start school the same day as her friends, because we were going to be moving, far away from Grand-Momma and Aunt Karla and her cousins and her friends, and, boy, did that lead to a lot of screaming and abject refusal to help me pack, even if I did point out that she'd be able to go swimming even in the winter.  Momma Kamen and Karla tried to help, saying that we could do video calls and we'd try to see each other at Christmas and other holidays, and that they were actually jealous, but that just meant that when we put our boxes in the truck, she was sad-crying instead of screaming.

I'd said a private goodbye to my friends in Boston, with "Big Moira" making me promise to keep in touch and Ashlyn and Penny again telling me that starting fresh would really be the best thing for me.  She also asked if I was okay to drive the next day, and I'm not going to lie, that had me nervous as well.  Living in a city like Cambridge, I really only have to drive once or twice a year - mostly when somebody is not good to drive home - and though I'm past the "I never actually took my driver's test!" nervousness, it's still kind of a lie and driving 1,500 miles with a five-year-old who has never been in a car for that long is a lot different than running an errand!  Google will tell you that it's a 24-hour drive, but it took us four days, with one spent going into some of the Smithsonian museums in Washington and another stop to sleep somewhere in Tennessee.  I must admit, I kind of feel like I'm a traitor to my status of being a guy deep down in that, while I'm not nearly as anti-car as Jordan, I can't see why someone would want to drive all the time when there are perfectly good trains and buses.

We got into New Orleans at around two in the afternoon, and met the realtor at the apartment.  Moira had been napping, and when I woke her up, she didn't know what was going on.  I told her we were at her new home, and while I think she kind of wanted to be grumpy, she looked at the building - a very basic one-story with steps up from the sidewalk to two doors, really - and her eyes went wide.  "Is that whole thing just for us?"

"Well, not the whole thing - just the part on the left - but yes, it's just for us."  Once I opened the door she ran in and through the empty living area to the back, and then back to me.  "Mommy!  We each get our own bedroom!"  I said I knew, but she pulled me in to show me anyway, then raced to try and look out every window, find the bathroom, look around the kitchen, very excited about what a big circuit she could run.  At one point she stopped in the entryway and pointed up.  "Why's there a door in the ceiling?"  I said that was the attic, but we didn't need to go up there yet.

After a bit, we walked back outside, and I told her we had to get everything from the van into the house, and it was going to be tricky because we were kind of on our own here.  The fact that everyone else she knew was far away hit her again at that moment, but she started trying to help with some of the smaller boxes.  I managed to wrangle the bed frame in and assembled okay - real-Krystle may not like my arms, but they come in handy for more than just hanging from a fake rock, but the box spring and mattress was going to be trickier.

I admit - I looked down the street and saw some people hanging out on stoops and figured I might as well use what I had, unbuttoning my loose-fitting top and using it to wipe the sweat off my brow.  I was wearing a sports bra underneath, but it was the sort that didn't exactly disguise my rack.  I kept one eye on the open door as a couple young men decided to stir and walk over, hoping I wasn't making a huge mistake.

"Well, well, well," one of them said, "ain't nobody told us a fine-looking lady like yourself was moving into Eddie Grant's place."

I smiled, trying to remember everything Ashlyn - who, longtime readers of this blog may recall, got over any qualms about big breasts making a lot of men eager-to-please very quickly - had told me about flirting:  First and foremost, don't promise anything.  Wear something where you can get noticed, but downplay it; of course you wore the sports bra on moving day.  No innuendo unless you are sure you want to get laid, because they'll lead you down a path you don't want to go.  Just try and show you're smart and fun enough for them to want to be around you generally.

Anyway, I smiled, not too wide, and pulled my hair back in a ponytail, being practical but also letting my breasts ride higher for a second.  "I bet you say that to all the sweaty messes."

The one who hadn't spoken stifled a laugh, and I admit I kind of liked him the best in that moment.  He and his friend each grabbed an end of the box spring, though, and asked where to.  I guided them to Moira's room, where she had emptied out a box and was playing happily, and got them to lay it on the frame.  As we left, the first one took his phone out of his pocket, checked it, and dashed off, saying I had to give him a chance to introduce himself properly, and he might have really had a message rather than deciding a single mom wasn't quite so hot.  Whatever; I could handle the mattress with just one other person to help.  He got it there and we walked back out to the van where he raised his eyes at how little was left.  "Just the one bed?"

I shrugged a little, the sort that didn't set everything moving, and made a face.  "The thing about moving out of your Momma's apartment is that you realize how little you have that's yours alone.  She said I could take the other bed, but did I really want to haul a twin all the way there when I'd have enough room for something bigger?"

I hoped I wasn't implying too much with that, but he just nodded.  "Your Momma's got a point."  He grabbed a box and helped me bring it in.  "And, apparently, your Momma's also got all the chairs, the kitchen table, the TV, the dishes..."

I put my own box down next to his.  "Yeah.  Hopefully Moira doesn't mind roughing it for a while.  I didn't realize it would look this empty."

He raised an eyebrow.  "Moira?"

"Look, there were reasons not to give her a name that was in the family, and my best girlfriend was all that came to mind at the time."  I chuckled a bit, thinking of some of the confusion it's caused.  "If I ever do that again, I'll be more prepared."

He nodded, looking around the place, seeming pretty well aware that, cute anecdote aside, I hadn't really volunteered much.  "Well, if you need anything, I'm Leroy Watkins, my brother is Larry, and we obviously can't complain too much about how people choose their babies' names."

I reached out a hand.  "Krystle."  I was about to spell it out, then didn't.  No need to make it easy for two guys I'd just met to Google it and judge me by the footprint that the original Krystle Kamen left.  Heck, I thought, maybe I could do something along the same lines as Jordan and find a way to be "Joanna" or even just "Crystal" or "Kris" here.

Seeing he wasn't going to get a last name, he shook my hand, either content to play the long game or seeing that I had a lot of other things to check off on the list before "lover".  I saw him out and waved as he walked back down the street toward the place he and Larry share with their own Momma.  The back of the truck was empty, so I reached up and pulled the door shut, then walked in.

Moira walked into the living room shyly until she saw that I was alone.  "Is that your new boyfriend?"

I laughed, pulling the Celtics jersey that was on top of one of the boxes out and putting it on.  "Oh, no, honey, at most he's a boy who might be a friend.  We've got enough else to do with all the other new things!"  I picked her up and spun around.  "Look at all this empty space!  Just a blank canvas to make our own!  And there's going to be new friends and new places to visit and new things to see!  I know it's kind of scary, but I'm also really excited!  Are you excited?"

She hugged me and whispered in my ear.  "I'm kind of scared but also kind of excited."

I kissed her forehead.  "Well, I can't ask for more than that."  We looked around again.  "So, what do you say we put our clothes on the hangers and hang them in the closet, then put your shelves together so you can put your books and toys on them, and then it'll be just about time to return the truck and get some supper!"

"Yay!  Can we get pizza?"

"Baby, we're in a new city, with all sorts of food it's known for!  Your Grandmomma and Aunt Karla and everybody said we've got to try po'boys, red beans and rice, jambalaya, beignets, alligator sausage..."


We got pizza, of course, and she nodded off just as soon as we got her bed made afterward.

Anyway, so that part of the move went okay.  Obviously we've been busy with a lot more since, but, yeah, we got here, at least!


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