But why this craving for solitude, when I was just moaning about needing friends not two seconds ago? Well, it’s probably a result of the summer I had. What a summer! The last summer in England, and oh-so-memorable.
It started out, mid-May, looking like it was going to be not too bad. Then Tarquin arrived home from university, returning to our cozy little nest in England, sick with mononucleosis (British translation: glandular fever). So we had Tarquin basically falling asleep all over the house.
I told him he needed to sleep upstairs, in his bedroom.... “Right, Mom, I’ll just go up in a min...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.” Hopeless. To make matters worse, he snores really loudly (dreadful hereditary affliction -- thanks, Mr. D!) so when he was sleeping on the couch in the living room, you couldn’t even hold a conversation.
That pretty much scotched any chance of gainful employment for him for the early part of the summer. And then he needed a small surgery in early July. More recuperation. So we got about three weeks worth of work out of him, all told. At least he earned a little spending money for next year. And he’s worth his weight in laughs, such good company, so all around it was fine. Really just fine.
But it wasn’t just him. It was all of his friends. Apparently, everyone in the world had somehow heard that we were providing free room and board to anyone who asked. So we had one kid for ... two months (yeah, two months! But he was quiet and handsome, so I wasn’t complaining too much.)
Another guy stayed for the better part of three weeks. Six members of a male “a cappella” singing group from Cornell slid through (but just for overnight). A fantastic group of guys, no difficulties there, and they loved my homemade buttermilk pancakes. (“Thanks, ‘Mom’!”, times six!)
Some friends of Tarquin’s from Bradley (again, sweet), and then the absolutely adorable son of a collegue of Mr D’s, along with his traveling buddy, for a few days. Yet another pair of cute teen boys-- my girls spent a lot of time on hair and makeup in May and June.
Don’t get me wrong, everyone was polite, nice, it was no big deal. And the testosterone level in the house -- well, we could have bottled that! Quite exciting. For me. I have to take my thrills where I can get them, hey? But the girls got a bit tired of it, eventually. Every time you opened a closed door, there’d be some boy sleeping in the room.
“Eccch, boys!” cried Aphrodite, later in the summer, after most of the novelty had worn off. “They’re just so... so messy... and disgusting!” And the excessive drinking and carousing at 2 am we could have done without, but remember, I don’t sleep much anymore anyway -- you all know that!
Still, the sheer volume of traffic was a bit.... daunting. I didn’t even really realize the extent until halfway through July, when I got the Waitrose bill (grocery charge account). It was truly double the usual. I thought there must have been some mistake.
But then, “no.... let’s see, thirteen extra mouths to feed, for varying lengths of time...? Yup, that makes sense. ...OK, that does it, everybody, we’re moving to flippin’ SOUTH AFRICA!!!” That’ll fix that problem!
Then, on the other hand, there was our oldest son, Peregrine, who decided to work for the summer (what a great concept!) in the USA. He found a job at a summer camp in upstate New York, and with a friend of his, set off to find his fortune.
And did he find it? Are you kidding? This is the story of my family you’re reading here!
No, this is what actually occurred. Two weeks into it, I got a text from him: “Mom, please send me health insurance information.”
Now, this is never good. Never, ever, ever.
I sent the info by text, and then called and called and called. Finally learned that he had contracted Lyme Disease (tick-borne disease common in deer-infested parts of the US) AND a horrible spider bite that had basically blinded him in one eye. Mr. Outdoors he is not.
His girlfriend’s family had rescued him, and transported him back to Cape Cod, MA (very posh!) to recover. This is why I didn’t complain about the 80-something kids staying at my place this summer. It’s because you end up owing on the other end.
And I’ve already incurred major debts with my oldest. He’s stayed all over for more holidays and summers than I want to acknowledge (thanks, everyone!) and I have only just been able to keep track. One would hope that eventually, it all balances out. Do a favor for someone, and they’ll pass it on..... right? Take a favor from someone, and... they gave it freely.... I hope? ...... And they’ll get something in return.... from someone else maybe, even if I can’t pay it back fully..... ?
Anyway, Peregrine ended up getting better (we hope) and he found a full-time job on the Cape, so it all worked out fine in the end.