These past few months have been an interesting (and stressful) time of transition. In them, I have learned a few things of note:
1. moving back to a place where you have a lot of connections and ties is not necessarily the most amazing thing to ever happen to you despite what you might fantasize its being when you didn’t live there.
2. chichi doesn’t mean crime-free
3. I was so right to only have one kid
4. my cat is an asshole
Let me expand:
1. San Diego is my city. I fell in love with this place as if it were a human in 1997 and never wanted to live (visit yes, live no) anywhere else. It has problems for sure. But like that soulmate you know you are supposed to be with, those problems don’t detract from the fact that I just fit with San Diego. It is not a perfect or even great city, but it is my city. And I love it with a passion that borders on cult-like.
When I moved away from San Diego, I was bereft. I kept finding reasons to come back to visit and in doing so, forged some pretty strong relationships with people here. These relationships kept me from absolutely wallowing in my “perpetual winter depression” for two years. They offered me solace and a place to hope for.
So, when I found out that I was moving back to San Diego after a two-year exile, I was ecstatic. Until I realized what moving back really meant.
See, San Diego (and people I love therein) are human. They are flawed and wonderful and needy and brilliant and sometimes in need of having boundaries set.
I suck at setting boundaries. Thus, I arrived to a barrage of engagements which prevented me from a) unpacking, b) settling in, and c) actually leaving my house on my own terms to inhabit my city.
Usually, when you move to a new place, you get a few weeks of hunkering down and adjustment because you don’t know anyone. When you move back to a place you are already established, you get no such time.
I know, I know, I get mocked for this all the time: I am complaining about having too many friends. So let’s just move on . . .
2. I have moved up in terms of neighborhoods. I now live on the North side of Mission Hills, the chichi side (Hey, I wanted to live in Golden Hill, but it didn’t work out). However, chichi apparently only means that rude people drive jags around and not that the neighborhood is inherently more safe than any other neighborhoods in San Diego.
Since I’ve moved here (less than 2 months), my car has been sideswiped while parked with damage to a tune of $3K, someone burned down a house about five blocks from mine, and about 5 different cars have been broken into. As I type this, a siren is going off only a few blocks away.
Nonetheless, I still leave the windows open and the doors unlocked when I run. I figure the guy next door probably has things in his house of actual worth.
3. My friend and her three kids under the age of six are living with me for a month before they move to Guam. These kids are perfectly spaced age-wise if I had decided to keep breeding after the advent of my son. So, I am getting a taste of what it would be like to be a mother of four children. My son is getting a taste of what it would be like to have siblings.
My friend is a great mom. She disciplines, picks up after them, and supervises play time. I am genuinely enjoying my time with them at my home. The kids are perfectly sweet. Perfectly loving. And perfectly feral (which you expect in kids this age who are in a pack–as in coyote pack–of four). We go from zero to 100 miles per hour every morning at 530am.
It’s not even light out yet.
My son, who has always been uber patient with other kids, has this Viet Nam glaze over his eyes. He’s going to lose it at any moment (he no longer asks if he can have a brother).
Again, these aren’t bad kids. They are immensely loveable and kindhearted. It’s just that there’s so many of them. And they are so loud and active at so early in the morning. They are curious. Beyond curious. They want to learn via experience. They climb, they fall, they color, they throw crayons, they hug you, they punch you in the baby maker, they scream because they are starving, they dump their food out all over the floor, they laugh, they cry hysterically, they make you a “present” that is so cute you almost puke in your mouth, they dump out every Lego bin in the room, they tell you that they love you and hug you with their impossibly tiny arms, then they shit in their pants and smear it all.over.the.house.
Granted they do go instantly back to zero at about 8pm, but by that time we are all exhausted and draped over the couch like limp noodles with only enough energy to open a bottle of wine. With four children, nothing productive happens after 8pm. In fact, nothing productive happens almost all the time. They are like a pack of adorable little puppies. You can’t control them. And they love you so hard that they just have to crawl all over you constantly.
They crawl all over their mom. Me. My son. The cat.
My cat has started vomiting like Linda Blair.
Which leads me to
4. My cat is an asshole. I understand that she’s under a lot of stress being following around like Bagheera to three violent Mowgli’s but we have made retreat spaces for her. The kids aren’t allowed to go on the top bunk in my son’s room so that she has sheltered nap space (under a tent no less) and we shut them out of the kitchen whenever she wants to eat or use her box. My friend and I are constantly running interception to keep the cat as sane and calm as possible.
Still, that little runt insists on hanging around corners where she knows the little kids will be playing. She nonchalantly walks by them WHEN THEY ARE QUIETLY COLORING so that they drop what they are doing and start chasing her around (then she climbs to the top bunk and looks at me when I come in to check on the now excitedly jumping around children like “what are you going to do about it, pussy?”). She purposefully started eating the one houseplant that makes her vomit green, puss-like bile. Which she does everywhere but primarily in my bed. At night, she sleeps with her ass directly in my face, moving it only to stick her wet nose in my ear and purr, “you like that, bitch?”
When she is not sleeping with me, she has started sleeping with the 3-year-old on the bottom bunk, causing him to freak out and wake me up every ten minutes.
It started with, “I don’t want the cat to bite me.”
“She won’t bite you, sweetie. She’s on the top bed. Now go back to sleep.” [with the light off,tuck him in, kiss him goodnight]
Ten minutes later:
“Breeann, I don’t want the cat to bite me. She’s in my bed.”
“No she’s not, honey. Back to sleep.”
[Completely frustrated] “She is NOT in your bed. See? [flips on light and sees cat laying in his bed, looking at me, “yeah, I’m fucking with you.”] Oh.”
I pull the cat out of the bed, tuck small boy asleep. All is well until the next night around 2am:
“Breeann, that cat isn’t in my bed. I want to sleep with the cat.”
Repeat. For the next five nights.
Yet, I do nothing to stop this cat. I am letting her jerk me around. I am literally pussy-footing around her because I feel bad that her space is invaded and I took away her claws a decade ago while she plays her little sadistic mind-games. See? Asshole.
Still, nothing is forever. And transitions end. Since I started writing this essay in November, we’ve settle into San Diego. There hasn’t been any new crime and my son safely skateboards up and down our street while I work inside. My friend and kids have settled in Guam.
We miss them terribly, including the cat. Who is still an asshole.
Some things never change.