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Postcards to Metropolis

June 24, 2011

A few days ago, AJ built a fort under our dining room table. He piled sofa cushions around the outside and built an addition on one end with the dining room chairs and a blanket over the top so he could fit his bean bag chair underneath. Every morning when I get up, he’s in there playing games with his baseball cards. Every afternoon he’s reading a book. This morning he asked to bring his breakfast in there. I peeked through a crack and I could see him curled up inside with a bowl of cereal and one of the Tin Tin books. His baseball cards were laid out in neat piles along one end. It looked like a nice place to be.

“You want to come in, Mom?”

“Sure.” I started to walk around the table to the entrance, but he stopped me.

“You need the password.”

“Oh, I forgot.” He told me yesterday that he was going to write the password on a piece of paper and hide it inside the typewriter, that very typewriter up in the photo at the top of this page, in fact. I found a piece of paper rolled up inside the keys. It read, “BIG FIST.”

“Big Fist?” I said when I got back to the fort.

“Yeah.” He moved aside to let me in. “When I was at O’s house the other day, we were playing this game where we needed battle names so we opened the dictionary with our eyes closed and pointed and each got two words for our name. I don’t remember mine, but Q [O’s little brother] got ‘Big Fist,’ which we all thought was really funny.”

If you know Q, it is really funny. Q’s a singular kid. When he was really little, he used to walk around in costumes all the time. Since he was at least 4, he’s worn black cowboy boots every day, often with an all-black outfit – preferably sweat pants and a turtleneck, although the last time I saw him, at Rock Band Camp, he was wearing them with a pair of denim shorts and a black t-shirt. He’s now going into third grade. That’s a lot of black cowboy boots in a lot of sizes. He’s easy to find in the rock band camp photo. He’s the one making the Gene Simmons face.

AJ showed me around his fort. His reading material was all by his bean bag chair: Tin Tin, Calvin and Hobbes, an Almanac, and a couple of novels he likes to reread. The baseball cards were at the other end. He showed me his armory – a nerf gun, and a couple of “grenades,” which were really rolled up socks. Every fort needs some protection.

AJ’s always been a fort-builder, but he hasn’t built one in a while. I’d thought maybe he’d outgrown it. I’ve been wondering if it’s a response to all the frantic scurrying around here trying to decide whether we are moving. We all have our ways of dealing with the stress. Mr. Spy buries himself in his work. I jump from task to task, hiding out in my office to think. AJ has his Fortress of Solitude.

Tonight we’ll get a break, I think. Mr. Spy and AJ are going to a White Sox game. “You’re not going to become a Yankees fan if we move to New York, are you?” I asked AJ the other day.

“No. No way.”

“Good. Because I don’t know if your father could deal with that.”

“I’ll always be a White Sox fan.”

I’ll be staying home to work on getting the house ready for the realtors who will be coming next week. Or maybe to get some writing done. Or maybe to just worry over all the issues some more. Or maybe all of the above. Here is a list I wrote in my notebook while sitting at the barber shop waiting for AJ the other day:

Where the hell will all these books go?
Do I need to get rid of my choral music (all three file cabinets of it?)
Don’t forget about the gift certificate at School of Rock
Dissertation chapters – MUSH!
Who will buy my house with these damp spots on the basement floor?
Why, after all the money spent, is there still water in my basement?
Will it ever stop raining? (answer: apparently not)
Could someone please send this rain to the southwest to put out some fires?
How much do we need to earn to afford an $1800/month apartment? What about a $2500 one?
$25 a day for the train from Connecticut? Really? Yikes.
How great would it be to have health insurance? (answer: very great)
Get registration fees back from band and football
Where will we keep a violin, a full-sized keyboard, two guitars and a trombone?
Thank God we don’t have a drum set.

Maybe I need a Fortress of Solitude. At least I know the password to AJ’s.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 24, 2011 11:04 am

    I think hiding in a protected fort with sock ball grenades is a great way to deal with stress. I’d move on in.

  2. June 24, 2011 12:30 pm


  3. June 24, 2011 12:34 pm

    It’s not really $25 a day for the train, unless you’re really far away maybe. My monthly is $266 so if there’s 20 workdays in the month, that’s $13/day.

  4. June 24, 2011 1:08 pm

    You’re right about the train, magpie. I think it’s about the same price to the town I was looking at, where I grew up. I’d be in the office only 4 days a week, but even so, it’s not as bad as all that. It is, however, a lot more expensive than Chicago trains over approximately the same distance. I’ve got to get over expecting equivalence. Also, yes, Mets better than Yankees, but still White Sox all the way. Sorry. And MKM, it is entirely possible that while the boys are at the Sox game tonight, I will be hanging in AJ’s fort. Possibly in the fetal position. With a cocktail.

  5. teranika permalink
    June 24, 2011 4:27 pm

    You know, every morning I wake up thanking god that I don’t have a drum set.

    Good luck with all of your thinking and planning and organizing. Moving is scary and stressful and makes all of us want to hide in a fort!

    But you have moved so many times in life, I am sure with enough fort time with Tin-Tin books, tomato sandwiches, and cocktails, you will be able to find that perspective you need – the one that tells you it will ALL get done!

    I look forward to hearing more details as soon as they are public. I’m thinking about you, Ms. Spy, and hoping that the exciting part of moving to NYC – the idea that you can just GO to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the afternoon!!! and then have a real Italian espresso on 2nd ave – will take over.

    “BOO METS” (I’m sorry. The St. Louis Cardinal fan in me had to say that…)

  6. June 24, 2011 6:53 pm

    Scary but exciting. You can always mail me books you don’t want to move right away; I’ll run a storage service and then you can have them back, pre-read for your enjoyment.

  7. June 25, 2011 9:09 am

    I like Jeanne’s advice. 🙂 I think AJ is having the right reaction – I miss making forts.

  8. June 25, 2011 11:42 pm

    I love little pet words and phrases like BIG FIST. Family in jokes are the best. Once, my mother, in a rage at my brother and I, meant to use the phrase “Buffalo deal”, but instead she said, “IT’S NOT GONNA BE A BUFFALO GAL WON’T YOU COME OUT TONIGHT SITUATION.” My brother and I just stared, slack-jawed, at her, wondering what in the heck she meant, since Buffalo deal didn’t make much sense either. Then we just broke out laughing. To this day the song will come up and provoke the same reaction.


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