It’s official — I’m turning into my dad.
My dad and I have always shared a lot of characteristics. We’re both bookworms in a semi-fervent, potentially unhealthy way that my mom and sister, who do like to read, are not. We are both introverts. We love the outdoors. Of my immediate family, my dad is the only one who can be counted on to get really excited about backpacking talk. And while he doesn’t actually hike or backpack on his own, he is always willing to join in on a trip J and I are planning. My dad and I have seen a fair bit of countryside together over the years, and that makes me happy. I suspect he is the only other member of my immediate family who occasionally harbors unrealistic daydreams about ditching everything and heading to a cabin in the woods.
There are also things about my dad that drive me crazy. Ask any two people who have spent years living in the same house whether their fellow occupants have irritating habits. Of course we do. So here’s the thing: My dad is a loud eater. Loud. He’s a loud walker, too. Maybe it’s due to the extra weight he’s put on in the last fifteen years or so, but you can always tell when he’s in a room because of the thump-thump-thump of his feet pounding around on the floorboards. If you’re actually sitting on the floor when he walks by, you can feel the shake of his steps.
I have spent half my life feeling very self-conscious about my food-chewing style because I don’t want to sound like my dad. To his credit perhaps, nobody has ever commented negatively on my table manners, and I vaguely recall having been told by a couple people that I am very “neat” in my eating. Whatever that means. Maybe it means I look prissy when I eat. At any rate, I’m not loud.
Up until recently, I thought I had the walking thing down pretty well, too. Until I went and got myself 27 weeks pregnant, that is.
It’s funny in a way, because by all accounts I have reason to be unbearably smug about my pregnant self, and no right at all to complain. Everybody comments on how “small” I am as I approach my third trimester. And that’s nice I guess. It’s good to know that my body hasn’t turned into something entirely unrecognizable as I play host to this growing human parasite, but I don’t feel particularly small right now. Like many other pregnant women at this stage, I’ve put on twenty pounds in six months. It’s just harder to see that on me because that extra twenty pounds is hanging on a 6’1″ frame.
Perhaps my weight gain has finally been legitimized. Yesterday as I was walking from the kitchen to the living room J commented on how loud my steps were. “What!?” I said. I hadn’t been paying attention to the way I was walking and wasn’t pleased to be hearing this.
Today it happened again. J and I had just come back to the apartment. We were taking off our jackets and shoes, microwaving mugs of water in the kitchen and settling back in to work at our computers, when there was a timid knock at the front door. It was the new neighbor from downstairs, asking very politely about the noise we were making. J talked to him for a minute out on the porch and then came back inside.
There was no other explanation for it. No other possible explanation for a noise complaint. I was walking — Loudly. “Maybe you could try walking around more on the balls of your feet?” J suggested.
Later as I walked around the apartment in a foul mood, grudgingly attempting to modify my gait, I reflected on my hatred of stacked living situations and thought longingly of that cabin in the woods, far away from complaining voices.
Maybe my dad could join me there.