We’re not teenagers, we’re baby boomers. Having sold our house in Bellmore more quickly than anticipated, and with four more months before retirement and our out-of-state relocation, we moved in with my brother and sister-in-law in Seaford two months before the pandemic hit.
Living with others is an adjustment. We all yearn for our own space. But privacy wasn’t the issue; it was food.
"How do dinners work?" my friend Claudia asked.
Joey and Pat ate at retiree time: early. Billy and I ate when our commuting schedules dictated: late.
We lived on the lower level of their high ranch: two bedrooms, full bath, family room, laundry room and garage. Joey and Pat, empty nesters, occupied the upstairs. In anticipation of our arrival, they’d bought a bigger TV and new headboard for our bedroom and upped their already beefy cable package. Sweet deal. The most commonly shared space was the eat-in kitchen.
During Joey’s birthday celebration with his children and grandchildren at the house, the question was posed at the kitchen table, "How’s it working out?"
Pat jumped up and opened the refrigerator door. "My only complaint," she said with a big grin, "we have no room! Even the freezer!"
My husband and brother are great cooks. Billy likes to keep a stocked refrigerator — and keep Costco and BJ’s Wholesale Club in business. Joey likes to shop daily at smaller local merchants. Different approaches, same outcome — amazing meals.
While living in the "Seaford Suites," Billy and I fell into a routine, driving to Delaware every other weekend to visit our new home. It wasn’t unusual on our way back to Long Island on Sunday nights to receive a text from Joey: "I made chicken soup," or something equally delicious to come home to. We responded in kind, cooking Sunday dinners on the alternate weekends. Chef Billy’s lobster macaroni and cheese was a favorite.
Living at the Seaford Suites felt like a five-star Airbnb with a dash of my childhood home. Some weekends, Joey, Billy and I (all early risers) would sit around the kitchen table having a leisurely breakfast, Joey telling family stories from before I was born. There’s a 12-to-15-year age difference between my three siblings and me. I was 8 when Joey moved out, so it was lovely having this time together.
Billy and I couldn’t have had more accommodating and generous landlords, though that term is a misnomer, as they wouldn’t let us pay for a thing. However, there was mention of compensation.
"Of course you can live with us!" Pat had said when we’d asked. "But it’ll cost you some pierogies," she laughed, referring to Billy’s legendary homemade Ukrainian potato dumplings, his late mother’s recipe for pedahehs.
It always comes back to food.
Reader Paula GanziMcGloin now lives in Millsboro, Delaware