For six months now, I've been leading a double life.
No, I'm not a spy gathering international secrets in foreign lands.
And I'm not involved in a lurid love affair with a dashing gentleman of dubious reputation.
I'm a little sad about that second one. I kid.
No, really, who wouldn't want to be swept off her feet by a rakish rogue with romantic inclinations?
Maybe my girlish musings have more to do with my recent re-reading of Pride and Prejudice than with real life.
Ahh, Mr. Darcy. Don't be a hater.
In fact, my double life can be stated in terms more often used by real estate professionals: Location, location, location (though I doubt there's nary an Oxford comma in the MLS listings, but I digress).
I have a home; I've been here almost seven years, except when I'm not.
I also have a furnished apartment I stay in during the work week, two and a half hours away from home. My home away from home, if you will.
And my dilemma is that I prefer one over the other - but not the one I should.
It has nothing to do with the furnishings and decorating style of either location, though it might have a little smidge to do with the awesome water pressure I enjoy when I shower away from home.
I have to confess that I've never felt AT home in my little hometown. I don't feel I belong here - I am, and fear I always will be, an outsider. My neighbors are nice enough, it's not them - it's me.
And it's not like our state capital, where I earn my wages, is a hustling, bustling metropolis filled with excitement - it is not. I work and I go back to my apartment, alone. I haven't made any friends, and have no family in the area to make Jefferson City seem more appealing.
But appealing it is...
Despite the fact that the traffic lights are flashing red after 7 p.m. each evening, and there's no hope of ever seeing progressive legislation passed in the halls of the Statehouse while I'm here (because the legislature in Missouri doesn't do progressive right now).
And who in their right mind would prefer an apartment where the upstairs (crazy) neighbor has a weird desire to be my BFF, and I've had THREE incidents where water dripped, flowed, or cascaded across floors and carpeting?
Have I ever mentioned that I am the crazy person magnet? Trust me, the mentally unbalanced love some Kim time.
Who needs that?
Then again, there's the excruciating FIVE MINUTE commute each day to and from work on streets that have older homes clad in various levels of character and/or dereliction that I find charmingly irresistible.
And the presidential street names, in chronological order? Divine! There's no way to get lost as long as I remember American history.
And where else can I find the majority of business establishments I might frequent on a single four-lane thoroughfare?
When I stand on my patio and smoke a cigarette, an officer in the occasional police cruiser waves at me as he drives by?
Be still my heart, I'm in Mayberry!
I am smitten with the City of Jefferson (don't you love how they have two names?), and yearn to be back there when I come home for the weekend.
Maybe if I was treated like the prodigal son on Friday evenings, and welcomed into a sparkling clean abode and showered with hugs and chocolate - would that make me feel at home at home?
Alas, that is not how it works in real life.
And so, while I sit here with the Mister and the Boy and gaze at the cleaning that must be done, and hear the demands that will be made on what precious little time I have here, I dream of returning to my clean and quiet apartment - and hope that the upstairs neighbor doesn't ring my doorbell at 1:30 a.m. again, her face awash in tears as she shows me a Tupperware container filled with the teeth she knocked out when she fell and hit the bathtub with her face.
The City of Jefferson, where demands are few, where I am in control (and in control of the remote), and nobody yells/curses/argues/farts in my general direction - that is what I long for.
Sunday afternoon, I will lug my freshly laundered clothing to the car and begin the drive back. As I approach the banks of the Missouri River in Cole County, I will glimpse at the Capitol, and know that I have returned to my weekday Shangri-la.