Family Room No More

Dearest Rachel –

As much as I like the setup I have in the yellow room upstairs, and I’m glad for an alternate bedroom to use while the construction begins in the laundry room next week, I’m a little bit concerned about getting too comfortable up there. I fell asleep in the recliner pretty quickly last night, and stayed asleep for at least a good five hours, before Daniel came upstairs to use ‘his’ bathroom and woke me up, so that I could go back to sleep in my own bed.

I’d retreated up there almost as soon as we’d gotten home from the Passover Seder that we’d had demonstrated and discussed at church yesterday evening; Daniel had taken a little persuasion to bring with, but once he was there, he followed the detailed description enthusiastically, nodding along like a bobblehead doll. It gives me hope that he’ll thoroughly enjoy – and learn from – our trip to Israel in November.

Actually, there’s a lot of things I’m putting my hopes on out of November. This includes the likelihood that many of the things that his prophets and pundits predict won’t have come true by then, but rather, what changes come to pass in Washington DC are due to the normal means of the present political process, rather than some sort of lightning-from-heaven divine spiritual intervention. To hear him talk about it, I find myself thinking that he sounds very much like the Zealots of old, expecting their Messiah to throw of the yoke of Rome, only to be completely underwhelmed by the Messiah they got, and (for the most part) deciding to violently cast Him aside, and wait for one more to their liking.

And as the Seder suggests, they’re still waiting. Rome is long gone, as are many other nations that held them under their thumb, but the Jews are still waiting. Whose chains do they expect the Messiah to cast off by now?

Be that as it may, once we were home, he proceeded to turn on one podcast or another, or possibly a sermon broadcast – I honestly don’t stick around to find out. I can’t seem to dissuade him from these things, so I simply leave him to them. It’s probably not the most fatherly thing to do, but we’ve had this conversation so many times since (and even before) you left us. Nothing’s going to change until he gets disillusioned by their failures – of course, that’s only if they fail to predict the future; who’s to say I’m not, like Gamaliel, avoiding an argument with God Himself? – because I can’t deny what hasn’t happened yet.

It’s particularly significant right now, as he’d had a discussion in front of me with a friend of the folks after church earlier yesterday morning. She was asking him what he was wanting to do with his life, now that he has a degree and time on his hands. I just stood there and let him talk about proclaiming the coming days and all the changes that are about to happen, while she continued to repeat the question “yes, but what do you want to do with yourself?” in various permutations of emphasis and slight rewording. I don’t think he knows how he sounds to others, and I’m not sure that he would care even if he did, but she eventually offered me her sympathy and assistance, if I needed it. Honestly, I wouldn’t know what to ask for, even if I could bring myself to do so.

All I can do is to wait him out.

But I’m not going to do so in the family room, at least, not while he’s listening to these folks who tell him what he wants to hear. Setting aside the fact that I literally can’t argue with him (the last time I tried, the two people on the podcast had made an assertion that the ruble, the rupee and the yuan had all shifted to the gold standard, and were all worth the same as some mythical ‘token,’ meaning – theoretically – that they were all worth the same. An easily disproven thing, right down to the fact that, if they were at least all worth a certain amount of gold, their exchange rate history would be flat, if not necessarily on a 1-to-1-to-1 ratio. Didn’t sway him in the slightest), it’s just not comfortable there any more. The recliner that I’ve claimed as my own, next to the couch and the space heater seems to be permanently bent at a 20 to 30 degree angle. It’s not obvious when you look at it, but when you sit down in it, you’re staring halfway up at the ceiling. It’s fine if you want to lean back and catch a few z’s, but if you want to watch something, you can’t just sit up and do so. I have a pillow I put in the back to prop myself up, but it leaves me literally on the edge of my seat, and that’s not comfortable, either.

Daniel would remind me that La-Z-Boy offers a lifetime warranty on their chairs, but considering they’d still charge a house call fee, I think the best course of action is to simply replace the thing at some point. I know that wouldn’t sit well with either of you (excuse the pun), but unlike pretty much every other piece of furniture in this house, I think I can call this one mine, and treat it as I see fit. I’ll wait until we’re done with the kitchen and laundry rooms, though.

Even when he’s set his stuff aside, and we’re able to enjoy the family room together, it doesn’t seem like the ‘family’ room anymore, because the family isn’t ever there anymore. There will be something that you and I would comment on to each other – a little private joke here and there – and I will even occasionally glance over at the couch, where you would have been sitting, alternating between the screen and your own computer… and of course, you’re not there to talk or listen to. We don’t feel like a family anymore without you, and the room doesn’t seem like a family room anymore.

Of course, you and Daniel used to insist it never was the family room, but rather, a living room. I could claim it’s a matter of semantics, but to me, there was a difference. At the house I grew up in, the living room was right off from the front door, with a picture window overlooking the street. It was the display room, and as such, had some of the best furniture, the Christmas tree (in season) and so forth. It was not the room for us kids to be running around in, wreaking havoc. As a result, we did very little living in that living room. It was the family room that was the hub of the home. And so, that’s how I refer to the extension of the house that runs from the dining room table to the fireplace, over possibly your objections and habit.

But now… I don’t know what it is, honey. It’s not a family room, because we don’t feel much like a family anymore. It’s not quite Daniel’s room, as we have people over in it from time to time. I don’t know what it is.

But I don’t feel at home there like I used to.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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