Why Don’t You Stay?

It honestly just hit me: in the story I’m writing, which has crested 43,000 words as of yesterday, the city of Nashville is where so many of the characters live originally, yet by the end of it about the only ones left there are…the Slovenian triplets, of all people. In all fairness, while their thick accents would suggest otherwise, Sasha, Draža, and Tallulah were actually born there, and are thus United States citizens; their mother Zara was from Slovenia, hence their ties to that country as well.

Zara was a country music star, hence her move to Nashville, and is long deceased as of the events of the book; the triplets were orphaned at that point, but their trust fund pays amply for their upkeep, in particular their rent in the penthouse of the Grand Ole Opry Tower (directly above Zara’s tomb, in fact, which is located underground deep beneath the Ryman Auditorium, which is across the street), their childhood home which they just kept paying rent on after she died, year after year, even unto the age of 26, when Draža is getting married to his sweetheart Theodora.

“But Darling, where will we Live!?”

Which raises an interesting question: will the triplets still be living together in their swanky apartment with the panoramic views of the city, or will Draža and Theodora make other arrangements, breaking up the triplets’ residential bond they’ve enjoyed since childhood?

It might seem a bit silly, but Theodora is the clingy and loving sort, and Draža might not want to break up with his siblings, so they might actually all pile in together. It’s explicitly stated in “Orphans of Opry Tower” that each of the three kids has his or her own bedroom in there; it’s not stated, but probably there were originally four bedrooms, one for each of the children plus one for the mother (she was a single mother, and nobody else lived with them).

So it would seem that if Theodora wanted her own bedroom she could just take up residence in what used to be Zara’s bedroom and turn it into her own domain. Such would be quite normal in this timeline, where it’s common enough for even not-so-affluent couples to each have separate houses, let alone bedrooms. But would she want to do that?

Theodora strikes me as the clingy and loving sort who would just want to sleep with her husband all the time, so I’m thinking she would take the (in this timeline) weirder path of sharing the same bedroom with him. Even then there would be some changes: Draža’s bedroom probably has a private bathroom attached to it, but it’s built for one person rather than two, so an upgrade to that effect would be in order; he’d likely want to trade out his bed for a bigger model so each of them can sprawl out as easily as he can now. It’s even possible the bedroom itself would be expanded in dimensions, at least if they wish the bigger bed to still be proportional to the room it’s in (which they probably would).

Futuristic technology such as robotic flexible walls as well as Japanese-inspired design principles centered on fusuma screens and accordion doors that evoke the traditional shoji might make expanding the bedroom an easier proposition than it would be in a typical house in our timeline.

Remodeling for Family

That might suffice for now, but what happens when Theodora has their baby, Eclipse (named after the total solar eclipse he’s born under)? Well, especially in this universe co-sleeping is the norm, so they probably won’t even want a bedroom for baby for a while, but the clock is ticking at that point. I suppose they could then use Zara’s old bedroom for the son’s space? At that point five people would be living there, a relatively large household size, but it’s a penthouse in the height of luxury: it’s probably a pretty big place.

Any subsequent children, however, might cause it to be cramped, and I have a feeling Draža and Theodora are the type who would like to have a really big family. Theodora is in her mid teens when she has her first child, so there’s time for plenty more; she’s the sort of girl who would be all over having a bundle of her husband’s love inside her and wouldn’t abide the thought of limiting her births on purpose. So she’ll be spending all her childbearing years pregnant or breastfeeding (or both!).

She has roughly 30 years to go, so even assuming a (for a lifestyle like this) more leisurely pace of a baby every 2 years she’s going to be having 15 children total. They won’t be raising all of them at the same time; at any given time they’d be having only 6 children under the age of 12 or so to take care of; in this universe especially once they reach the teenage bracket they can be more or less independent. Still, that’s at least 5 extra people who need to be housed in their dwelling space.

Zara’s bedroom is probably big enough to accommodate two banks of bunk beds that have three beds each, but it would honestly be silly for the family to do anything other than just start renting the next suite downstairs from them….assuming there even is one. The penthouse in “Orphans of Opry Tower” seems to be rather secluded, and it’s not specified if they have any neighbors downstairs from them.

Expanding the Penthouse? Ooh…

Even if they don’t, however, we get the impression that an awful lot of the space within the structure isn’t even finished, and was just left empty; in this universe the fashion is to build tall towers to show off, but there’s not quite enough facilities to put in them that anyone wants to use on even an occasional basis, so most of a given skyscraper’s structure not being habitable space is actually common (thus technically tipping them over into being towers rather than buildings).

The upshot of this is that if they wish to expand their home downstairs they might be able to rather easily. Heck, it might even have been built in as a design feature from the get-go, precisely so additional space could be finished out as needs evolved without impinging on any neighbors.

It helps considerably too that “Orphans of Opry Tower” mentions staircases to their bedrooms, which are all downstairs from the main living area at the tippy-top; at their point in the tower’s vertical expanse the structure is rather narrow, and so the penthouse suite is spread out over multiple levels, perhaps with just one bedroom per level, or at best two. Finishing out a few more down beneath wouldn’t change the basic contours of their home environment, though it might mean a bit of a commute up all those flights for the denizens of the lower bedrooms! Escalators could help?

One big question is just how many additional bedrooms they’d outfit: up to 5, one for each child under 12 who’s around at any one time (plus one in Zara’s old bedroom), already seems a bit extra, and 14 additional bedrooms, one for each child they have total, sounds crazy; a dozen levels might need to be finished out! Once you get used to the idea, however, I could actually see them doing this; it even has a certain cool factor to it.

Another possibility is that the kids might like sharing bedrooms, in which case something more like 4 additional bedrooms might be finished out, bringing the total number in the penthouse suite to 8. In some of the bedrooms 2, 3, or even 4 kids might pile into bunk beds, whereas some of the other bedrooms might be host to 1 kid who prefers having his or her own space.

Actually I kinda like the idea; I’ve thought from childhood that bunk beds for tots were the coolest thing ever, and bedrooms for solitary pursuits that empty out upon reaching adulthood and venturing out into the big bad world are cool too, as is the very idea of these homes in the sky expanding and contracting, being repurposed and reused…it lends the needles in the sky three miles above the city streets a living, breathing quality, being a real home rather than some sterile monument as in so much science fiction.

More Lovers? And more Babies? Or nah?

By the time even Eclipse, let alone the other kids, reaches the age of 13 the triplets will all be 39: verging on middle age. Theodora will be younger, at about 28. One might want to plan for the possibility one of the other siblings finds love and starts a family too, but I think this unlikely: Sasha is far too interested in alchemy to pay women much mind, and Tallulah is established as Nashville’s top escort girl; if it were just her she probably would start a family (likely on her own, as her mother did), but being auntie to a gaggle of kids she lives with does more than enough to sate her maternal desires.

Now, Sasha could in the course of his esoteric studies find a Dark Academia dream girl, or Tallulah could fall like a ton of bricks for a particular client, but like I say these eventualities are unlikely; the direction I’m currently wanting to take their story is Draža is the domestic one and the other two remain single for life.

Heady stuff, isn’t it? It’s to the point where I’m almost half-tempted to scope out another distant follow-up story, where all of this has taken place and there’s a new generation coming of age. But what of their friends? Like I said, the triplets are almost the only ones left in Nashville by the end of the story!

Fates of the Friends

Fintan and Fia are the other characters who are from Nashville originally — well, at least they’ve lived in Nashville since their youth, their mother Dymphna was in the area when she was killed in the same tornado that felled the triplets’ mother Zara, and their accents are explicitly Southern, not called out as anything other than local.

But a Middle Tennessee origin has not been stated explicitly; their father Hernando is pointedly said in “Orphans of Opry Tower” to have a North Georgia accent, betraying his origin, though some parts of Georgia are close enough to commute into Nashville in just a quarter of an hour in this setting (cars can speed down the freeway at 400 mph), so it’s entirely possible their childhood residence was in Georgia and they just spent a lot of time in and had close ties to Nashville.

It gets even more nebulous after they get married; their spouses both explicitly live on the beach in California, and their children are all raised there, but whether they keep their hotel suites in the Grand Ole Opry Tower (yes, they live in there too, on a lower level and in less luxurious an abode than the triplets) is left unspecified. They’re usually on the dance competition circuit and spend most of their time traveling anyway; my working assumption is that after they got married they cleared out of their suites and no longer have any pied-à-terre in Music City, instead using their spouses’ homes in California as their primary residences.

Their father Hernando too travels a lot, though he’s deceased by the end of the latest story, so he no longer lives in Nashville either…assuming he ever did. His exact place of residence, if he even has any in particular, is left unspecified.

His wife Decca (stepmother to Fintan and Fia but called “auntie”) makes her family’s big house in Abingdon, Virginia her primary residence, which she’s lived in since childhood, though she also spends a lot of time at her dance studio in Antioch (an edge city near Nashville) as well as her vacation home in the Sipsey, which is in northern Alabama. She might count as local, especially since she has a bedroom suite she frequently sleeps in at the studio, but she has an Appalachian (not Middle Tennessean) accent and has Virginia memorabilia all over her business (it’s called “Old Dominion Dance Studio” for a reason…).

In any case by the end of the story Decca is spending most of her time at her starter winery in Slovenia, retaining ownership of the dance studio in Nashville but training up Henrietta as her protégé, a new character who migrated from Nebraska (and a place so deep in Nebraska she didn’t speak a word of English: her mother tongue is German) to Nashville and presumably lives there for the long haul. Where will she end up? As of the events of the story she stays in hotels in Nashville, perhaps even ending up in one at Hickory Hollow Mall, where the dance studio is located, though she ends up spending a lot of time sleeping in the lofts above the dance floor rather than her hotel room. Might she just move right into the place of business permanently?

Vacation Homes! Yay!

So maybe the triplets and family will have some companionship in Nashville after all. 🙂  Not that they’ll be spending all their time in their penthouse; the triplets in childhood were avid train travelers (having eschewed driving), a trait they may well retain through adulthood. Through their mid twenties they evidently had little interest in the idea of a vacation home like Decca or Georgia built for themselves, instead preferring to experience new locations in short-term rentals. Might that change once Draža and Theodora have their kids?

Why do I have a sinking feeling that the triplets and all 15 kids (plus grandkids…) will try to pile in on poor Decca at her little winery in Slovenia? For a woman who never wanted to have any kids she sure is showered with a lot of childish affection. 🥰  Oh well; she chose her winery’s location in the Julian Alps so it could be close to ski country, which the triplets love too. Perhaps a ski lodge big enough to fit all of them will become their vacation home? I have a vision of one of the kids growing up to craft some kind of lair hewn into the rocks of glaciers or some such.

Alternatively, considering the triplets are one of the relatively few people in this setting who live in a city full-time, might they opt for a more urban setting by the beach? Trieste is nearby and has any number of charming yet big, tall, and spacious buildings that could play host to a large family. Still urban, but a real change of pace from being three miles above Nashville. They might even choose to make their second home in Venice, which is close by but is more iconic, and an even greater change of pace: all those canals…

My Yacht, my Zeppelin, my Home?

Or would they even have a vacation home at all? It’s not like this setting has a rule that says they have to have one; they might be just as well off to invest in owning a yacht big enough to house all of them in comfort, which they could take around the world, though this smacks a bit too much of what Georgia (Decca’s cousin) ends up doing at the end of the story, where she lives on a yacht in Japan with her baby.

On the other hand, considering the extreme weather that takes hold during the El Diablo years, maximizing mobility might become a trend. If they want mobility that evokes the slow elegance and luxury of a train ride, but a yacht is just too much like cousin Georgia, then a zeppelin presents itself as an intriguing possibility, one we haven’t seen much of before in my stories. It might even comport better with the triplets’ predilection for living high above the action in Nashville; in this setting, with a zeppelin they can dock at any number of spires in the world’s greatest cities and just descend on down to enjoy everything the streetscape has to offer. Talk about an alternate history…

My Story, my Choices

Lots of decisions to be made, but I have no need to make them now; I’ve already got enough of a story plotted out as it is to write out before I head off and perhaps see Venice and Trieste myself in a couple months’ time. Bon voyage! 🙃 

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