Biggest surprise I’ve felt recently is joy for my dad. His wife arrived in the US on December 10th. Me quietly dreading her arrival. But to my surprise, when I knew she’d landed, knew he’d met her at JFK and flown beside her from New York home to North Carolina, I felt nothing but relief.
I feel happy for my dad now. Happy he will not be all alone in his great big house, happy that this new woman, my stepmother, gives him a job to do - something he’s become quite good at over the years – helping newcomers acclimate, at least in matters of business and legitimacy. (She’s been to the DMV to get an ID. She’s registered for and begun ESL classes.)
In matters of home and heart, I’m not sure how helpful dad will be in helping her acclimate. He’s probably already driven her crazy for all I know. Wouldn’t take much. He’s likely let her know how he would cook the daal, or how much salt he would use for the chicken curry. Bet he runs around behind her and scrubs bleach on the countertops as she tries to learn the kitchen and get through fixing a meal.
As happy as I feel for my dad, I am anxious for my new stepmother. Leaving an entire life behind. Brothers. Parents. Friends. A country. An entire country, like she is turning the page in a book. I worry about the way my dad can drive a person nuts. But I remember that he is funny and gregarious. I imagine that the red has returned to his cheeks. Round poofs of laughter and joy.
I spoke with her on the phone this weekend. Awkward choppy funny 3-way conversation.
How are you?
I’m good. How are you?
How are you? Are you well?
Not no. How-are-you, she’s asking. Answer is not no. Say: quite-well; I-am-quite-well.
I am quite well.
SONG: That Teenage Feeling, Neko Case