Lack of sleep will make the rest of the day painfully long, especially while driving to Hattiesburg, having dinner with my family, and picking through some of the furniture my mother is giving away to charity. Saturday will be spent at my cousin Chris's wedding and visiting with my mother's extended family.
My mother is very generous to me, especially now that she married a doctor. At least once a year, we'll go on a little freebie trip to Tunica or the Coast casinos where the room and meals are nearly paid for, and she'll buy me a few clothes or get me a pedicure. Since her marriage, she has taken me to Britain, the Caribbean, and Vegas. Before she married a giving and wealthy husband, she raised me and my sister on a Mississippi teacher's salary and gave to us as much as she was able. I am extremely fortunate and grateful to have been raised by such a woman, and I hope I have many many more decades with her.
Mama has always been critical about issues that she thinks are unhealthy for me: my diet, my non-traditional income of websites and poker, my bouts of nocturnal living. She's a mom. She's loving, affectionate, and sensitive to my sensitivity to her criticism. :)
But she broke my heart a couple of weeks ago when her disapproval found a new venue. She told me that as long as I am living unmarried with a man, I will never be given any of our family's inherited antiques and furniture. Let me point out here she likes Jimmy; she has always liked Jimmy (at least she has said so), and she has never before expressed any misgivings or disapproval about my living with Jimmy before. She told me that she wants to give me furniture that she no longer needs but that Jimmy and I need for our house, but she doesn't feel like it's a safe environment for the furniture since I am unmarried. She would rather give that furniture to my sister or my step-brother or leave it in storage rather than risk it getting stolen by Jimmy. But she said that if our marriage hasn't happened by now (nearly six years), it'll never will. Thus, she's afraid that if Jimmy and I ever break up, he would keep the furniture and heirlooms that she had given me.
Let me make this clear. I care far, far less about things than I do about her approval of my life. It would be...nice...to have some furniture to fill this large house. Nearly all of our furniture is hand-me-down and doesn't fit. But I'd rather my mother didn't give me anything at all if she trusted me and approved of my lifestyle.
In a way, I understand her fear. People can do monstrous things to each other when they fall out of love. However, logically, marriage is no protection from barbaric behavior. Marriage didn't protect her from my father when he stole every typewriter, toaster, and box of silver dollars in the house. Marriage to Jimmy wouldn't stop him from burning every stick of furniture I owned. In fact, it's marriage itself that would give him partial ownership for the items I brought into this house unless they were detailed in a prenuptial agreement. As it stands, I am more protected now legally as a tenant. I have no lease, but everything that I brought into this house is mine and he has no legal claim to it.
When she first told me of her decision, I was so hurt I didn't say anything. And then I got a little angry at the presumptions of his potential behavior. Then I got even angrier because of the illogical preconception that marriage is the only protector of her furniture. A little teary but coherent and calm, I told her that I understood her fears but that I had many reasons to disagree with her. At the very least, evidence of Jimmy's conduct during his divorce speaks to his patience and character. Penny and he divided their belongings, he forfeited a great deal just to speed the separation, and he then took out an enormous loan to pay off everything that was jointly in their name.
Regardless of my opinions and the evidence for the goodness of Jimmy's character, I do know Jimmy could, on any whim or fancy that strikes him, kick me out onto the street (not that I think he would unless our relationship was over, and then he would not do so heartlessly). I am very painfully and keenly aware how precipitous my position here is. Every day I am reminded by some little thing that I am dependent on our love and Jimmy's good will to stay in this home. But I also know that if he were to kick me out, everything that I own should legally come with me. And I would rebuild my life somewhere else.
But now that I type this, I feel even worse. There is more I haven't said. When they've visited, Mama and Horace rarely stay with us no matter where we've lived (in the trailer, in Bill's house when we rented it, and in this giant house that Jimmy owns) opting instead to stay my Uncle Branton's nearby. Mama says it's because Horace enjoys Branton's company, but it's hard for me to believe that's the reason they choose to sleep elsewhere.
That said, I do want to get married. I want it, but I don't need it. The only demand I have ever made to Jimmy is that I refuse to have children with him unless we're married. I get a little sad at the idea that I might never be married or have children, but then I tell myself to buck up. I'm not going to give up Jimmy out of an egotistical need for legal confirmation and society's need for a piece of paper. A marriage license does not guarantee love or trust or a future. I guarantee it with my actions and Jimmy with his.
But my mother's decision still stands. I have told her that I respect her choice and that I don't want her to give me anything that she is uncomfortable with putting in my hands. I won't be getting any of the heirlooms she considers precious, even though they sit in storage. I, may, however, have some of the things she's giving away to charity, if I'd like to go through them. I wonder if I can swallow my pride enough to take some home.