I I I I I I I  

Slowly, I am becoming the cheese.

It'd be nice if it were the Big Cheese. Or if I had some royalty deal on Who Moved My Cheese? I'd settle for a nice sharp cheddar. Or a creamy gouda. Or even a bierkasse. But, no. I am not a useful cheese.

Bit by bit, I am turning into the Farmer-in-the-Dell's cheese. You remember the song, where the Farmer takes a wife, then the wife takes a sheep, and the sheep takes, um, a duck or something. Ultimately, all of the animate things have been taken, except for the poor cheese. The cheese stands alone. Soon, I fear, I shall stand alone, too. 

(A note: Yes, I know how whiney that sounds. O! The indignity of being an American white mother of a healthy child! What follows is really just proof that, in addition to everything else, my sense of perspective has been taken. Perhaps the Farmer's cow is responsible. Untrustworthy, those cows.)

Hard to say when my descent into this Farmer's game began. I suspect it was around the time the baby was born. I lost a lot then -- my sense of invincibility, mostly, but also any hope of a decent night's sleep or a firm tummy. I've gained a lot, certainly, but it has all been exceptionally character building. I miss the parts of my life that I lost then. While I wouldn't ever trade in the Diva to have them back, it would be nice to feel like I am allowed to mourn for bits of my former life without being made to feel like I am selfish and unworthy of momhood. Lately, though, the losses have become more concrete.

In so many ways, the choice to move to New York was an easy one. But there have been repercussions. The subtraction of our Knoxville house is a constant ache. I know, I know -- it's just a house. But it isn't, really. When we bought it, the place was in tough shape. Slowly, much more slowly than we'd envisioned, it was shaping up to be exactly what we'd dreamed it could be. We had help, certainly, but most of the work and all of the choices were made by us. It had become an extension of who we were, from the fairy mural in the nursery to the dozens of daylilies in the backyard. There was still so much work to do but we saw rewarding glimpses of what it would be. Now, we'll never know. Leaving that house was like abandoning a small, unruly child, whose journey to adulthood would be totally in someone else's control. The new owner may be the best guy in the world, but it still hurts to know our first real home will be under a stranger's thumb. I try not to think about that. 

(continued at right)

Other tangible loses are my Knoxville job, which had been my identity for the last half-decade, and real friends. I'm only tangentially involved with both now. Some days these losses hit me like a kick in the spine. My life is no longer caught up in the routine of my friend's lives. While we are all alone on some metaphysical level, the immediacy of my current aloneness is tedious. I remember this feeling -- the passing urge to cling to the legs of passers-by -- from when I first moved to Knoxville. I know it will pass. I'm just so fucking tired of starting over every five years, of looking around this new house and wondering if it will ever feel like mine, of adapting to this new work situation where I have time to write but little exterior motivation to.

These were the anticipated losses. Some subtractions have blindsided me. A couple of months after unpacking, our oldest cat -- the one who made the move from Texas to Knoxville with me, which was something the Hub wasn't even able to do -- finally started to feel her age. By Thanksgiving, she was down to six pounds, from her stable weight of 13. We hoped for a last-minute rally but a week before Christmas, I took her to the vet for the big shot. I expected to be a bit weepy, granted, but did not expect to be devastated. So much has been missing from my life and now my sweet (if temperamental) cat was gone as well. At 3 a.m., wore out from weeping, I almost put on a bathrobe and wandered outside to shake my fist at a God I don't actually believe in. And, yes, my gestures generally tend toward the hyper-dramatic. It gets me through the day.

For what it's worth, I've stopped resisting my cheese-ness, simply because, to quote the Borg, resistance has been futile. But I'm starting to really worry about the whole thing, simply because I'm running out of stuff -- and the stuff that's left is more important to me than words can express. Still in my circle are the Diva, the spouse and my general good health. The Hub has been slammed by the new job for the past few weeks, which means I've not really seen him in a while. I miss him. It's a little more lonely when he's gone.

What scares me the most, though, is that the Diva and I have been going through a phase. She's approaching two, that age where independence starts to become a huge deal. A few times now, usually because we won't let her have cookies and chocolate for breakfast, she's had the big tantrums, where she swan dives to the floor and wails like we're pulling her legs off. It would be hysterical if it weren't so damn irritating. I suspect that phrase will also describe the next few months as well, as the Diva goes through this change and I, again, have to learn how to snuggle up to the new child. I applaud her growing self-reliance. I really, really do. But it's like losing another piece of my life that I'd come to depend on. 

Call me Jarlsberg. I am the cheese.

About the Author:
Adrienne Martini has been a theatre technician, apprentice massage therapist, bookstore bookkeeper and pizza joint waitress. Eventually, someone started paying her for her words and an editorial mercenary was born. She has written theatre reviews and features for the Austin Chronicle, blurbs about tofurkey and bottled water for Cooking Light and a piece about knitting summer camp for Interweave Knits. She is a former editor for Knoxville, Tennessee's Metro Pulse and recently picked up an AAN award for feature writing. During the day, she fields freelance gigs and crams knowledge into the heads of college students in Upstate New York. At all hours, she is mom to Maddy, and wife to Scott. Email Adrienne at: shaken@austinmama.com


I I I I I I I  

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