During our very first phone call, John jokingly asked if I was scared that he had an 8-year old son. I laughed, long-known as a kid-mecca. And figured I'd wait 'till our first date before divulging that his sweet little boy had nothing on the entourage then living at my house.
I wasn't intentional about communal living, but an ever-increasing flow shared Maddy's and my roof over the years. Mike was first. I invited him to park himself, his dozen thrift store button-downs and 17-million over-worn backpacks in the guest room after his college graduation. Just for the summer, he insisted. But he kept us laughing and helped with carpool another two years. Mike had moved west by John's and my blind date, but Maddy's & my newer roomies included my nephew, friends Teresa & Charles, and out-of-town acupuncture students who regularly crashed on all available mattresses (and always brought great wine).
I gave Maddy an on-demand, tankless hot water heater for her 13th birthday. Best gift ever.
It's not easy living with a collection of folks who become family by default. But it's not hard, either, especially once I accepted all offers to help around the house, abandoned my own persnickety routines, and realized modesty is totally overrated. Mostly it's really fun, a happy busy house full of people coming & going, all better cooks than I.
Lately we're down to our nuclear four, which offers its own sweetness and adequate noise when blissfully overrun with Alden's friends. But Teresa & Charles were just visiting, and we tumbled effortlessly into comfortable family routines. We came & went, and each evening we sat around the tiny kitchen table, eating hummus and cucumbers or rich dark chocolate or margaritas on the rocks ... catching up on the day. Charles soon retired to the cable channels, John and the kids played cards, Teresa and I cleaned out cupboards. Last night Teresa gave me an utterly euphoric acupuncture session, and I hope I made her laugh enough to ease some accumulated stress.
They just left and I miss them already. I'll survive (and we'll certainly be hanging at their house when they move to Lake Chapala) but I love having our big ol' extended family close.