Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pinch-Hitting

I have to say...it's very odd stepping into someone's home when she's away.

I'm pretty well acquainted with Fellow Traveler's house, but there's a big difference between staying there as a guest and moving in, in her absence, to take care of the beasts and keep an eye on things.

First and foremost, I have to contend with two dogs and a cat who like me, a lot -- but who are missing their real mama and can't understand why, when I come home, she's not with me. The two golden retrievers, Katie and Cassie, greet me with enthusiasm, but then look behind me...and when they don't see FT, they sigh, or even emit a sad little yodel of disappointment. They're also used to human company all day long, so leaving for work in the morning elicits the same sad eyes and sighs.

And then there are the appliances. I'm reluctant to fiddle with things like the washing machine (which has a console like a vehicle) and the television remote control, which requires an engineering degree to operate properly. I know, for instance, that there's a way to get Sirius radio on it, but for the life of me I can't remember how; and it was only by dumb luck that I actually stumbled upon the combination of controls (which I promptly forgot) that allow me to change channels at all. Today I spent 10 minutes trying to figure out the answering machine, which has explicitly marked buttons for everything except Play or Listen or Get Messages. It's like being in a multidimensional IQ exam, and flunking.

And...it just feels odd stepping into someone else's living space -- even a someone I know very well, and with whose living space I have more than a passing acquaintance. There is something other about it that makes me feel like an invader.

I knew someone in college, a pastoral intern, who spent an entire academic year house-sitting for professors from our parish who'd gone on sabbatical. I imagine she felt that same odd sense of discomfort using their dishware and twiddling the dials on their home electronics and lounging on their furniture.

1 comment:

P.S. an after-thought said...

I KNOW I'd feel exactly the same way, even thought technology doesn't usually intimidate me, when it is MINE. But in someone else's house, I feel like I'm walking on eggs.

Currently, I'm staying in a family house in another state, that isn't mine. There are things that need to be done, but I don't feel that I can do them, for the same reasons...and because the decisions aren't mine to make.

When this house finally needs to be cleaned out, I think I may get stuck with an amazing amount of work because the "other relative" who owns the house is really lazy.