Friday, August 24, 2012

Familiar Space

My brother-in-law and his wife recently moved to Kent, so that they could attend Kent State University, he in international business and she in fashion (KSU has a top-ten fashion school in the nation- yes, you read that correctly).  It's been really nice for us, because we've basically spent six years now with the closest family being at least an hour away, and most family more than three hours away.  Between a small child and our graduate studies, we haven't had the time to make those treks very often, and family often doesn't have time to come to us, either.  In this time, we've missed our families a lot (huge understatement here), but technology has made it easier.  Needless to say, the idea of having family members in the *same* town had us thrilled. 
At the other end of the spectrum, BIL and SIL were moving to Kent after living with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law (SIL2) for the past year-plus, after meeting, living together, and marrying in China, where SIL is from.  I can only imagine the relief they felt at getting away from constant time with family.  MIL and SIL2 are extremely close, and seeing them together sometimes seems like she's an only child.  I can kind of understand the situation; SIL2 is the only girl with three brothers, and eight to thirteen years between she and her brothers, so functionally, much of her life was as an only child.  MIL and SIL2 have a great relationship and are lucky to have that kind of closeness, and honestly it reminds me of what I had with my father, so I wouldn't begrudge them that, but I can imagine the kinds of stress living with them might have cause if I were in BIL and SIL's shoes.  Also needless to say, they haven't been rushing to set up weekly family dinners, and seem (from their Facebook posts) to be having a great time getting to know their new home.
On my side of the family, trying to navigate personal space between my mother and I has been a challenge since my sister's suicide last year.  Being in Florida, our most common communication method has been the phone, which is my least favored method.  OK, I really have yet to find a technology that I enjoy using for chit-chat, mundane communication, which is the most common topic for my mom and I.  So there have been concessions on both sides; she pushes less for frequent contact, and I try to have patience when we're discussing the weather for the umpteenth time.
And in the midst of all this, with back to school and the start at a new school, we've been bike-riding Kenny to school this week.  He's a good bike rider, and getting better, but his use of physical space on the road can give me a heart attack some days (says the former-kid who would weave in and out of the dashed line on the street as a child, imagining the lines as cones).  Too close to others' wheels, too far to the left or right of the lane, stopping in the middle of an intersection or half a block away from one- these apparently are hard abstracts to understand for a six year old. 
All of this is to say that space- whether physical, personal, geographic, or temporal- is not at all easy to navigate.  I'm sure it's even harder in a space suit, zero gravity, and no atmosphere, but trying to figure out so many different forms of space all at the same time has me feeling a bit like an astronaut myself, lately.  Maybe I missed my true calling, and should have stuck with the space cadet I was as a child.

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