Monday, July 11, 2011

Sorrow and relief


Okay, am I far enough away from this that I can tell you about it without weeping? Cuz I am at work, you know. Can't be leaking and swelling and turning bright red here at the front desk.

Okay. You know Joe moved back in with me, supposedly only for a few days, but I told him he could have a month, and then later told him he could have another. We were getting along, but I was growing increasingly unhappy at the state of my apartment.

And then I went to my parent's place up in Ocean Park for four days, and Joe stayed home. He is a grown-up now, legally, and so I told him that as a guest in my house, I expected him to be appropriate and discreet in the people he had over and the things they did (I actually said, "No parties and no drugs, right?" and he said, "Right.") and that whatever transpired I wanted all signs of it to be gone by the time I got home. On the day I was leaving, I called Joe and told him I would be home in about three hours, so it was time to start picking things up and turning the dishwasher on.

Well, for sheer stomach-turning disgustingness of the mess the kitchen and bathroom were in when I arrived at home, hot and tired, to find no Joe, he wins a prize. The counters were mounded high with crazy stacks of dishes, half-eaten food, glasses half-full of juice and sticky spills running down the fronts of the cabinets, garbage and more dishes, tilting this way and that. The hot kitchen smelt strongly of sour milk and rotting fruit. And over the whole thing was a large cloud of busy fruit flies.

Shall I describe the bathroom to you? I think not. It will be even harder for you to imagine, unless you are a parent of an unaware teen-aged boy, with unaware teen-aged friends. Suffice it to say that I was still cleaning black greasy handprints ("Nick was working on his car!") off walls, light switches, cupboard doors and towels for days. I couldn't even look into the sink.

So. This was the last straw. I called Joe. He answered. I told him to come home that very minute and clean the house. He sullenly agreed. FIVE HOURS later -- midnight-thirty -- he showed up. I told him that I was in bed, that I did not want to be kept awake by the noise of him cleaning, that I would go to work tomorrow, and when I came home, the house would be clean and all signs of the weekend eradicated. I said that this was the last straw of my willingness to believe him when he said he would be responsible for something, and therefore, he would be moved out by Friday, and hand over his key. He agreed, and apologized, really as though he meant it. But STILL! It was unbelievable. Hang on to your hats, though. It gets worse.

The next day, when I got home from work, Joe was there, with a friend. I could hear the dishwasher running. I asked him, was the house clean?


So I turned around and left, telling him that I would give him half an hour, and then be back. He protested that he only needed twenty minutes, but I said half an hour, and the kitchen, bathroom and living room must all be done (I had left a list for him of all the things that I objected to, since I knew he would just look right past them).

When I arrived home, Joe and his friend were leaving, were actually outside the apartment and coming down the stairs. I didn't make a big to-do in front of the friend, who was not at fault (hmmm, wonder if that's why Joe broght him along?) but asked if they were done, and Joe said yes.

When I went in, I saw that it looked at first glance as though a lot had been done, but that with the exception of throwing away a lot of garbage, pushing the dishes back into the corner of the counter, and turning the (half-full) dishwasher on, Joe had done very little. The bathroom was untouched. Still cheese in the living room. Real cheddar cheese, I mean, not slang for a mess -- but a sharp knife and the block of cheese siting on top of a speaker.

Anyway. I'm growing weary of telling this story. Let me sum up. I was unable to get Joe home for the rest of the week. He kept coming in while I was at work, taking showers and making the house more untidy, and leaving before I came home. His phone does not take messages, so I could not even get in touch with him. After some hard thought I realized that since I had thrown him out, I should clean up the rest of the mess myself, treat him kindly, and be ready to stand my ground when he tried to avoid leaving.

So. At 7:45 on Sunday evening, Joe turns up. Tells me that he is moving in with his friend Nick, and that Nick's father is fine with it. Then says, "But I can't take my stuff over there tonight, so I'll leave it here and pick it up tomorrow."

"Nope," I say, firmly, but feeling my stomach curl up. Here we go! "This is the last day of the week plus weekend. You gotta go by end of day today."

"Okay," he grouches. Then he hangs around in the bathroom for a long time, then comes out and hangs around in his bedroom. Then the bathroom again, then takes a shower. Finally he calls through the house to me, and says that Nick has a girlfriend over, and so Joe can't take his stuff there tonight. Can't he please leave it here, just until tomorrow?

I point out that he has had all week to figure this out, and now it's the end of his time. I'm getting shaky, and take the phone out on the deck to get some encouragement from my mother, who gives it to me. I mean, he has plenty of money, and if worse came to worst, he could get a motel room for the night. But he has had seven days to figure this out, and has just been partying and sleeping late all week, figuring, no doubt, that I would cave when the time came.

But I did not.

Then there is his dresser -- a small Tupperware thing. He says that it won't fit in his car. I offer to follow him over to Nick's with a load of stuff in my car. He accepts, then refuses, and says to throw the dresser away. I say, in that case, I will keep it, since drawers are always useful.

Now he's finally worked himself up, and he's Angry. Anger has a special force for Joe and his father, acquitting them of all responsibility. Like being really drunk in England. So now he's stalking back and forth and slamming doors and yelling insulting things as he goes out the door. When he finally leaves, and I lock the door behind him, he is yelling, "Fuck you, Mom! Fuck YOU!"

Baby that I am, I immediately begin trembling, and call my mommy. I get Dad, who calms me down, and tells me I've done the right thing. And I know I have. I'm not going to start second-guessing myself (she says, second-guessing away like mad).

Anyway. I am sad, but I am also really relieved. He is out. He is gone. And although he could easily break in, I don't think he will. I will fix the door he knocked off its tracks and the map he tore (although I mourn that, since Niels sent it to me from Denmark) and then go on getting the house clean and aired out (reeks of old cigarette smoke now)and ready for Ruthie.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so sorry you're going through this. We are going through something similar with our oldest, and it is hellish. You are a great mom and good for you for sticking to your guns....the second guessing thing is something that I do as well, but I always regret it. :>)