Jammies and judgments

If you were sitting in my living room right now and we were having coffee, it would no doubt occur to you to wonder exactly how long I stay in my pajama pants on an average day.  You might even think about asking me directly, because right now it’s like one in the afternoon and to most of the world, my comfy clothes might look a lot like clinical depression.  You’re probably a really caring and nurturing soul and I appreciate that, but before you jump on the bandwagon, I can assure you that everything’s all right.  I’ve had a shower today.  Hell, I’ve even shaved my legs and put on moisturizer.  I am not depressed.  If I was, my mom (whose name would have been either Frank or Earnest if she were a man) would’ve called me out on it like two seconds after it started, my cats would’ve been really pissed about their dirty litter boxes, and my husband and step-kids would’ve wanted to know where the hell their supper was, and that would’ve been that.  So again, I’m not depressed.  But admittedly, there are a few things contributing to the plethora of pajama pants in my possession as well as the frequency with which I wear them.

  1. I keep my house cold enough (even in the summer) that most people need an afghan to be comfortable.  (This is not at all inconvenient because I actually MAKE AFGHANS, so I have plenty and I like to share.)  Since I’m either on the computer or crocheting, I can’t really cover up; the pajama bottoms mean that I don’t have to.
  2. I have a cat who barely lands on the nice side of satanic.  If I don’t wear pants that he likes to sleep on (fuzzy soft pajama bottoms), he’ll scratch my legs until I reconsider my choice.  The scratching is, of course, unintentional.  (Yeah.)
  3. I’m going through a bit of a heavy phase at the moment, brought on by the purchase of Oreos, ice cream, and potato chips every week for the past six months.  The pajama bottoms are among the few articles of clothing I own that still fit.  The way I see it, folks should be grateful I’m wearing pants at all.

Probably none of these explanations is really good enough for you, and I have to admit that even I occasionally find my attire appalling and problematic.  Mostly, these moments occur in the presence of other people.  For example, there are times when I have felt truly and unfairly judged by the UPS guy.  And we’re not even going to talk about the visiting 12-year-old friends of my step-son.  Except to say that those kids really need to work on keeping every thought they have from crossing their faces.

Thankfully, I can at least say that in my house, I am not alone in my preference of pajama bottoms.  To illustrate:  last night, step-daughter and I returned from an afternoon out with my mom.  As she walked through the door, she was tweeting about taking off her makeup, putting on pajamas and binge watching Supernatural.  By the time she finished typing, I’d already re-donned my fuzzy ‘jammy pants from earlier in the day, grabbed the Chromebook, and started a cup of coffee.  By the time my coffee was done, she had on her own fuzzy pants.  We could only smile at one another as we grabbed various bags of unhealthy food and seriously contemplated having frozen pizza for supper for the second night in a row.  In the end, we couldn’t be bothered to wait for the oven to preheat and we ate whatever we could find that took even less effort than that.  (Parenting goals!)

So, if you were sitting here right now drinking coffee with me, it would probably occur to you that I’m not depressed so much as I’m an obnoxious teenager in a 40-some-year-old squishy body.  And I couldn’t really argue with you there.  Not at all.

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The Brothers Three

I come from a big family, and in case I don’t get around to mentioning it very often, they really are an important part of who I am now and who I grew up being.  While my tendency is to talk mostly about Mama (especially when recounting times past), the truth is, the boys played just as big a part in who I am.

When I say I miss my brothers, I mean I miss all of us together, the way we were as children. There are particular things that I miss most. If you asked Mama, she’d say she missed the singing – all of us piled together in “Old Green” (an army green former utility truck of some sort that came to us already beaten and abused, one of the few things the four of us didn’t have a hand in destroying further), singing song after song from the late 60’s and 70’s and marveling at the acoustics. Or maybe she’d say it was listening to the four of us thump around on top of the truck while she drove the five or six blocks from Farm Fresh back to the house on some unbelievably hot summer night when riding in the open air at 20 miles an hour was the only breeze to be found.

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Strangely, though they’re certainly relevant to who I am, these aren’t my favorite memories. My favorites all occurred on some weekend or vacation when Mom had long since gone to bed and the four of us were gathered around the minuscule television in the living room playing some video game on near-mute and trying to be quiet enough as a group that we wouldn’t wake her. I don’t remember any of us every arguing over who got to play next or longest. We just played. And when we weren’t playing we were watching each other play.  (My love of video games endures to this day. And as it was then, it doesn’t matter a lick to me whether I’m playing or watching.) There were a million things feeding into us having a good time on those nights. First, we weren’t supposed to be up so late, and that alone was cool. Second, we only owned one game ourselves, so usually, any time we were up late playing it was because we’d suddenly gotten some spare change and Mom had agreed to rent us a game. (The renting, by the way, was almost as cool as the playing. Nate and I would spend almost an hour poring over titles and back-of-the-box descriptions, making sure that whatever game we ended up getting wasn’t going to disappoint us in the first ten minutes. There wasn’t another one where that came from and we all knew it.) Third, if there was spare change for a game, then in all likelihood, there was also Coke, chips, and sandwich stuff.  (Food was not always readily available at our house.)  And fourth, Dad was never home any time we stayed up late, which meant our house was a fairly quiet place. After all, there was nothing for the four of us to argue over among ourselves.  That fact alone is an amazement to me–four siblings with nothing to argue about?  But back then, it was true.

No matter how we dressed, no matter how our house looked compared to everyone else’s, no matter what car or beat up old truck Mama drove us to school in, I was always proud of the boys and proud to be with them. Though we always had to watch out for the youngest, J (who had a tendency to suddenly disappear or run headlong into oncoming traffic), most of the time we were the best behaved brood of children that I’ve ever encountered.  Oddly enough, I don’t recall any of us believing that at the time.  I think somewhere in the back of their brains, all children must believe they’re inherently rotten, if not for what their parents tell them, then for the thoughts they think at night, in the quiet darkness of their rooms.

Sometimes I think there isn’t anything I wouldn’t give to have us all in one house again. And if I had minutes or years to live over, I’d choose those when we were together every time. There are changes I would make. Maybe I could keep my oldest brother, N, from all the heartbreak and trouble of his mid-teens and early 20s.  Perhaps in a changed and bettered future, it would be possible for all of us to be together in one place without the arguing and ill will that happens now when such gatherings occur. I would have liked very much for all of us to be adults together, for ours to be one of “those families” who stay together, who laugh and play and drink together well into middle age.

I hate that we’ll never be the versions of us that I dreamed we’d be.  And while it’s easy to blame my middle brother, T, or politics, or geography or a million other things, the truth is, I think the blame probably rests with all of us for not remembering the children we were, the things we lived through, or most importantly, that the only reason we made it at all was because at one time we were Angie and the Brothers Three.

**This entry was originally written and posted in 2001.  It has been slightly edited.