Checking In, Part 3

What else have we been up to? Let’s start with the trip back! I probably should have led with that but what fun is that? I’ll take you up to the present and then take you all the way back two weeks.

I got there Friday night. He picked me up. We stopped to grab something to eat along the way home. It was Dairy Queen. It was on the way and it was fast, plus since my plane didn’t get in until after 9:30 it wasn’t like we had a huge selection of choices. He had promised his parents we would stop by on our way home. We didn’t get to their house until after 11. We didn’t get back to his house until around 1 and then of course, he wanted to show off his Air BnB and all the hard work he has done.

It looks gorgeous! He’s done a great job. But the tour meant we didn’t get to bed until around 2 am, which wouldn’t have been a horrible thing but we were meeting his son and his wife, plus his parents he’d invited the night before, for breakfast at 8:30 the next morning (or more appropriately- later that morning). I would like it to be known that I was ready the following morning. He was still in bed at 8:15. We rushed over to the restaurant and had a leisurely breakfast and visit. His son and I are united in our unhappiness over our lack of coverage in the mobster’s father’s Christmas newsletter. T’s new boyfriend got a full mention and a picture in it last year! I’ve been around for four years and my name was not mentioned once! C apparently wasn’t happy with his coverage either. I think he might have been given a single line and he’s been in the family since birth! So it’s nice we can bond over that.

We met up with one of our Pokemon friends so I could do a lucky trade (not that means much to anyone who doesn’t play Pokemon Go) and then headed back to the house so that the mobster could pack. Yes, in all of his zeal to finish up the Air BnB he neglected to pack anything. Thankfully he was only planning on taking clothes until he finds a place and can move everything up. No sense in paying storage fees when he’s got a perfectly good house. Long story short by the time he was finally packed and everything was put into the car and truck (oh yes, he bought his truck back so he drove that while I drove his car) and we had gassed up and were ready to be on the road it was around 4 pm. 

Let me tell you how the original plan was going to work. First, we were both going to be in the same car. We were going to leave sometime in the morning- not super early but probably no later than 11 or 12. We were going to stop along the way at various places and spin new PokeStops and play some- Lover’s Leap, Charleston. I even had hope that if the restaurant at Chateau Morrissette was open again we could have brunch there. It was going to be a leisurely trip. We might stop and actually eat at a sit down restaurant instead of grabbing fast food. And we would spend the night in Chillicothe, having one last night in our home away from home. We would wake up and have brunch at The Pour House. I would have a mimosa. We would go to the park and play Pokemon Go for a little bit. And then we leave again around noon or so and make various stops along the way so that we could play Pokemon Go, because we’re Pokemon Go geeks and that’s what we do. We would stop in Dayton, Van Wert, and Fort Wayne, and finally get into town sometime between 6 and 8 probably.

As you can tell from the previous paragraph this plan did not go well. We drove separate vehicles. We left way later than we intended. We didn’t go by way of Lover’s Leap, which meant we weren’t going to be near the winery. We took the way that was about 30 minutes longer but didn’t include going over a mountain. We stopped at a McDonald’s to get food but the line was so damn long and slow that we ended up going across the street to the Wendy’s which only had one car in front of it. That was a lie though because they were just as slow! We finally got to Charleston right as it was turning dark and we quickly realized it was not a great part of town. Plus, it was very busy! There was a huge, bustling hospital not too far from where we were. We had planned on parking and then walking around to play Pokemon. That was not going to happen. One of us drove, while the other person spun, and all total we spent maybe 20 minutes there before heading back to the truck. I was tired. He was tired. Plus, in the dark with all the bouncing he couldn’t see out of his mirrors real well so we opted to stop for the night as soon as we could. We didn’t make it to Chillicothe. Instead we diverted to Ripley which was another city we had spent time in. The best part was it was only 30 minutes away.

We got to the hotel. They only had king suites available. I didn’t care at that point. We ordered pizza and breadsticks from Dominoes, watched some TV, and went to bed. We were both exhausted.

The following morning we ate breakfast at the hotel and went out to play some Pokemon Go in a new town (while we had been to Ripley before we hadn’t been there since the mobster introduced me to the game). I had already checked to see if Chillicothe was too far out of the way for us and as it turned out it only added about 20 minutes to the trip. So, we drove to Chillicothe, played in our favorite park for a while, met a very nice couple who had just three Great Dane puppies (they were super cute!), and hung out at High Five Cakes bakery for a bit while enjoying the treats there. We were on schedule to be taking off at the targeted time when the mobster got a message about a booking for the Air BnB. That resulted in us not leaving for about another hour. We did not stop in Dayton. We did not stop in Van Wert. We did not stop in Fort Wayne. I’m positive we did stop to eat somewhere but I couldn’t tell you where.

Oh yeah, and on our drive from Chillicothe I had to abruptly pull off the road and find someplace to go to the bathroom because I got intense stomach cramps about 20 minutes into the trip. One too many fiddlesticks, I think. It was almost the bike trail all over again and I wasn’t having it!

We finally pulled into my driveway around 10:30 that night.

It was not the trip we envisioned but it got the job done.

My mom left the next morning to go visit my niece in Kentucky and our cousin in Virginia. That meant we did a lot of eating out or bringing food home. I’m not much of a cooker. I know I did make one casserole that they both wanted.

His first weekend up here I took him to the Farmer’s Market. He was as delighted as I knew he would be. He loved it! We bought a ton of fresh produce, amongst other things. I introduced him to the diner there as well.

Later that day we visited a few wineries. I took him to Lemon Creek first, which is one that my mom and I had been to before. After that we went to The Round Barn and that’s where we stayed for the next several hours. It’s a beautiful venue. We ended up doing lawn seating. For some reason they only offer one pre-designated flight and it includes a beer sample. We each tried a flight and a glass of the cranberry wine. The flight samples were huge although we both dumped out the beer after tasting it. I also ordered chili cheese nachos and a lobster roll for us to share. Later on he went back and got me a frozen vodka lemonade and he had the frozen wine slushie. We hung out in the sweltering heat and watched all the bridal parties come and go. Wineries seem to be the new place to go for your bachelorette party. And everyone is dressed up. I keep forgetting to put a dress on before going.

I don’t remember what we did on Sunday. Saturday took a lot out of me. Wait! I know we went down to Plymouth so he could face off his products in two stores. I also know that during the week between my mom leaving and coming back he spent a lot of time cleaning out the closet room to make room for a dresser and to get my home office up and running, and cleaning out the shed to make more room for all the things I now have placed in bins out there. I have winter clothes I will probably never wear again because they’re out in a shed and I’m not going outside in negative degree weather to dig through a bin to get clothes to wear.

My mom got back on Wednesday and the following night we went to a baseball game. I had some fantastic Philly cheesesteak nachos while I was there. Friday they both came downtown to meet me for lunch. Our city has Playtime on the Plaza or something like that where a band comes and plays from 11:45 until 1:15, and food trucks are on site. Unfortunately the only truck selling food was only selling fries so we ended up going to one of my favorite Mexican places instead. We sat out on the patio though so we could still hear the music.

And now we’re back to the beginning with him dragging me to a park in my jammies after promising me coffee. It’s been a whirlwind. I’m not sick of him and I don’t think he’s sick of me. He’s quite excited about everything that’s going on in my town. Like I said earlier, golf lessons and cross country skiing seem to be in my future. We’ve both sloughed off on our eating and exercising but the trails at that park, along with all the different paths we can explore, have us both excited to strap on our shoes

Checking In, Part 2

Life with the mobster so far has been bliss, aside from the fact that I think he’s going to kill me. Seriously. Just the other morning we were out to grab a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. That’s his most favorite place in the world. We had not gone since he arrived in town so we were woefully overdue for a visit. I jump in the car in my jammie pants and a long sleeve shirt I had just bought because it was a little chilly out in the morning, especially compared to the 150% humidity we had just experienced earlier in the week. I only slightly exaggerate on that statistic. Anyway… we hop in the car, go through the drive-thru and then he says to me, “Where’s the nearest park?” I’m thinking, “Oh that will be nice. We’ll drink our coffee and have our donuts in the park.” That is not what happened.

We drove to a beautiful park that I don’t recall ever going to. It was huge! Trails all over the place. We got out of the car and began walking the trails. Folks, I will remind you. I was in my jammie pants. They were obviously jammie pants. A long sleeve shirt. No bra. I was a walking advertisement for one of those People of Wal-Mart memes. I think we walked a mile. And we encountered numerous people, most of whom we spoke to! By the end of the hike I needed to arrange for golf lessons and buy cross country skis. ‘Cause we’re going to start doing all of that.

We then went to the Farmer’s Market (for the second time), bought way too much stuff, had breakfast, took our wares home and put them away, drove to Ironhand Winery and bought a bottle of East Race Red for the three of us to share (it was cheaper than all three of us buying a single glass) plus an appetizer, picked Picasso up from work, dropped him off, then drove up into Michigan to go to Gravity, another winery. We had samples there and ordered food from the food truck. We stayed until closing time, and then drove back to Indiana and went to McKinley Tap where we had another drink, ate some more food, and then played two rounds of darts. That was Saturday!

Sunday we took the dogs for a walk and then as we finished up he asked me if I wanted to take a bike ride. No! We were planning on going down to the Blueberry Festival and would be walking around for the next four hours or so! I had to stop the insanity.

Again, I bought way too much. Of course, every year I buy my dogs gourmet dog treats from one of the booths. I also bought some other little things. I also ate way too much. We had the most delicious steak tips with mashed potatoes and mushrooms, and then we each had a grilled pork chop. They wrap it in aluminum foil and give you a napkin. It’s amazing! I ended up having a pineapple whip after the fireworks and didn’t eat a single blueberry donut so that’s something to be proud of.

The fireworks were outstanding! They always have an amazing show. Honestly, this is a small town. It’s a mostly rural county. But they have the best fireworks I have ever seen. Mid show they have what would normally be most town’s grand finale. And they do it several times with all sorts of fireworks going off at once. At this year’s grand finale the fireworks created a canopy of color in the sky and the show ended with a loud boom and the hillside on fire. And I do mean on fire. Flames were shooting up from the hillside. I have watched this display every year since 2017 (minus last year when Covid canceled the festival) and every year I know I’m watching it with an expression of awe. The mobster filmed some of it but I’m not sure how well it looks on the small screen. In person though it’s wondrous. Absolutely marvelous. If you’re ever around Plymouth, IN on Labor Day weekend I highly recommend the fireworks at the Blueberry Festival.

Last part of my check in rolls out tomorrow!

Good Times Ahead… And Behind

I’ve been taking a long stroll down Memory Lane these past few posts. Some of you may be wondering, “Why don’t you shut off those memory notifications, Sam?”

Simple. I don’t want to.

Why? Do you love being tortured?

No. No, I do not like being tortured. Honestly, I’m not tortured by any of these memories. It’s more that they pop up and I shake my head at how naïve I was. Or maybe it’s more that I shake my head in disgrace at how far I buried my head in the sand when it came to that jackass. I see those pictures, those happy pictures of us (us being me and my kids) and my overwhelming thought is, “Oh, you poor thing. You had no idea what was heading your way.” Truth.

That’s the root of it, and this walk down memory lane. I look back on those pictures and my first thought is, “What a fucking waste!” when I see my kids and I doing all of our favorite things one last time, going to our favorite places, eating our favorite foods. “What a fucking waste!” I say as I see the pictures of our house up for sale, the moving truck loading up our things, all of my goodbye gifts from my friends, last minute gatherings, saying goodbye to everyone. We moved for what? Absolutely nothing. For the promise of a new life, a chance to start over.

I see those pictures of me and the kids on our three week trip out to Indiana and Utah and while the overwhelming memory is how much fun we had and how great it was to see everyone, I am reminded that the entire time we were away Jerry Lee was doing God only knows what with Harley. As I was reading the news of my friend’s impending divorce and lending her comfort my own husband was busy betraying me. I still remember writing to her that I was one of the “lucky ones” because we worked through it. Huh. Not even two months later I would be calling her and telling her I was joining the Women Who Moved Across the Country For Their Husbands and Then Got Dumped club. It’s a mouthful.

I see the pictures of us again down in Florida on what was supposed to be our family vacation and again, while the overwhelming memory is of what a great time we had, I am always aware of how dramatically our lives were about to change.

Those are all pictures of my old life, the one I had before the last DDay. Regardless of how it ended those pictures represent what was once my life. It was a mere chapter and not the entire book, but it was mine nonetheless.

My children are in those pictures, too. My nieces. My nephew. My brother and mother and sister-in-law. My family. Videos of Rock Star at her gymnastics meets and during practice. Videos of birthday parties. So no, I won’t get rid of the Facebook memories.

And you know what? Those memories that make me cringe come up sometimes alongside new memories. New, good memories. Sometimes I see things like my trip to Hocking Hills with the mobster where we walked around this beautiful, almost magical, park all day and then had an amazing time sampling wine at Hocking Hills Winery. Other times I’m treated to pictures of our weekend in Germantown, in parks, at wineries, in Athens, at the Blueberry Festival. Or pictures of us at the Paula Poundstone concert or the Kane Brown concert will pop up. So many memories between the two of us. Other times I come across a picture of me and Sweet J hanging out at a baseball game. Or there’s a post reminding me that my long time friend took me to The Damned concert up in Detroit. There’s the picture of me and my high school friends reunited for dinner. Sometimes I get to see pictures of me and my niece and my mom on one of our town’s wine walks. And there are always the holiday and birthday pictures. They’re not all tug-at-the-heartstrings memories. Some of them, most of them, are happy memories with no foreshadowing, unless you count my entire life as foreshadowing.

I’m almost six years from DDay. The things that happened changed me forever. The life I live now is nowhere close to the life I lived before. The trick is to keep on going. Roll with the punches. Dodge ‘em if you can. 

I’m a Big Girl Now

I did a thing today. I bought a bed. Not just any bed either. Oh no! I bought myself a Simmons Beauty Rest plush pillow top, the softest mattress they had in that line. At the urging of my mom I went all out and even bought the adjustable control instead of the platform, so I can adjust the head and foot of the mattress. I can just press a button and the head will raise up as much as I’d like. I can sit in my bed comfortably and type or watch TV. Isn’t that amazing? 

I was going to be practical. I was already splurging by buying the more expensive Simmons over the perfectly fine Serta. The Simmons was just so comfortable. The adjustable “frame”, or whatever it is, was an additional $800 almost so I wasn’t going to do it. Then the lady that was helping me said, without any provocation from me, “I could probably go down to $X for both, but I couldn’t go any lower than that.”

Well hell! Sign me up! I’ll take them both! And then… I bought a damn headboard!

This was all encouraged by my mother who is a very practical person. And very frugal. She reuses plastic baggies, for crying out loud! Here she is egging me on. “You deserve it! Fuck the kids and their vacation. Do something for yourself!”

So I did! Even though there was a perfectly good headboard out in the garage from when we moved in. I bought a new one. My very own. My own personal selection.

My wonderful, loyal readers, this is the very first time I have ever selected bedroom furniture for myself. I am 52 years old and I have never picked out bedroom furniture for my own bedroom.

The bedroom set I shared with Jerry Lee was gifted to us by Tammy Faye and Pastor Fake as a wedding gift. I didn’t mind at the time; I was thankful they bought it. We had that set the entire twenty years we were married.

We did eventually upgrade from a queen mattress to a king, but we never bought a headboard. 

We did purchase two plain wooden nightstands from Meijer about two years into our marriage. Jerry Lee picked one out for himself and I decided to go ahead and get one as well. But, of course, I left that behind when I moved. 

Now I have this amazing bed that I can hardly wait to sleep in, and I have a beautiful Victorian headboard. I’m just waiting for it all to be delivered.

For five and a half years I’ve been rotating between two couches, my Mom’s bed when she was in Florida, and my daughter’s bed when she was away at college. With Rock Star moving out I’m officially turning her room into my room. I’m installing new flooring, painting the walls, and either replacing or painting the closet doors. I’m finally going to have a space- and a bed- of my own once again.

Reframing Things

Final post for 2020. 

Earlier this year, one day in the summer, I made some comment about Jerry Lee bulldozing my life. My mom replied along the lines of, “Why not look at it as a chance to redo your life?”

I had actually already been thinking along those lines so I didn’t take offense at the suggestion.

I suppose that’s the biggest change for me during 2020. I’m finally reframing what happened to me. I’m not always successful. It’s best if I don’t dwell on it too much, but for small moments I am able to reframe the betrayal and discard, along with the absolute destruction of everything I thought my life was.

When I do this I’m able to tell myself he didn’t blow up my life; no, I got a second chance at a much better life. Sure, there have been speed bumps- financial issues continue to stress me. My kids are in therapy. I’m working a job that isn’t all that personally fulfilling and I feel like I never have enough “me” time, or time to devote to my kids. But it’s not all bad.

I’m back in my hometown. I’m reconnecting with old friends. It’s familiar. I didn’t have to start completely over and figure out how to get around the town.

Living with my mom isn’t a death sentence. She hates it when I say, “I had to move back in with my mom!” or “I don’t have a home of my own.” The reality is she does my laundry which is great because I don’t particularly care for doing laundry. She also has dinner cooked most nights when I come home. I joke with her that it’s nice to have a wife. I realize why so many cheaters don’t leave one until they have another one! I am fortunate enough to be able to spend huge amounts of time with my mom. I get to shop with her, go out to dinner with her, vent to her, and laugh with her. I have too many friends that no longer get to enjoy that with their moms.

Ever since moving back here in 2016 I have seen it as a source of shame- I was too fucking pathetic to be able to stand on my own two feet. I had to move back in with my mommy. I couldn’t take care of myself or my two children. I needed help. It’s very humbling, especially when you’ve lived in your own home for 20+ years. You go from living in a huge home to not even having your own bedroom; I slept on the couch for two years. Perhaps it’s simply the passing of time, but I no longer care. It is what it is. Living at home with her allows her to spend much more time with her grandchildren, allows me to see her all the time, and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than a mortgage payment or rent somewhere. It allows me to be able to do more because my money isn’t wrapped up in housing. I’m finally accepting that this arrangement works for me.

When he left finding a new relationship was the last thing on my mind. I was in survival mode and honestly, I had spent so much time alone even while being married that I had no desire to ever pair up again. I was perfectly content to be alone for the rest of my life; I was good at it. Yet, him walking out the door finally allowed me the chance to experience a real relationship, one where I’m valued and loved.

The mobster and I have an amazing time whenever we are lucky enough to get together. He is the best and I would have never met him if Jerry Lee didn’t go off and fuck his cousin.

As for finances, well, I recognize that I don’t need as much as I used to have. I don’t need a huge house. I don’t need endless baubles. I do like shopping for clothes and my closet is exploding right now but I’ve always been a sale shopper. As long as I have enough to pay my bills, take care of my kids and spoil them some, and be able to have some fun with my friends, family, and the mobster I’m good. I’d like to be able to take a vacation here and there as well, but it doesn’t have to be an elaborate vacation.

I also realize it’s up to me to make that change as far as finding a better paying job. Writing about how awful it pays and complaining does nothing. I intend to change that this coming year.

Of course, my children and their well-being always weighs heavily on my mind. Fortunately, I am finally letting go of that as well. Not as in an, “I don’t care” way, but more in an, “I can’t change the past,” way. It still tugs on my heartstrings when I hear “Best Day Of My Life” or any of the songs I associate with Harrisonburg. The overwhelming desire to scream, “Why?” is always there, but that scream is slowly fading away. I do my best to reframe it as a wonderful moment in Rock Star’s life, one that wasn’t meant to last. Maybe the lesson to be learned was that her dad is an entitled jackass. I don’t know. Maybe it was to show her she was stronger than she knew.

My son seems happy and content. The medication has helped immensely. He has friends here. He likes his job. He likes living here. Hopefully therapy will soon be a thing of the past for him, but as long as he continues to get something out of it I will pay for it. He graduates this year and no one will be happier about that than me! He’s been complaining about school since second grade. I’m tired of fighting him.

My daughter has apparently resolved all of her issues surrounding her father and his abandonment in approximately three therapy sessions. She works fast, I guess. She has decided she is done with him and she’s no longer expending the effort to have a relationship with him. As she put it, “Why am I putting in all this effort when he’s the one that left?”

Despite Covid-19 wrecking havoc with her college life she is happy. She has a solid set of friends down at college. She loves her sorority and her sisters. She has a great boyfriend who treats her like she deserves to be treated. She is kicking ass in nursing school and will be a wonderful nurse in a few years.

She has said herself that everything she went through led her to where she is. If we were still married and in Virginia, yes, I would probably see her more and she would be happily reconnecting with high school friends over break, but she wouldn’t have this life she loves.

Despite the hurdles and all the worries these last few years my kids are okay. They’re not living the life I had hoped to have given them, but they are good. As my mom always says, “You guys had a helluva run.” Yes, my kids had an awesome childhood and they got to experience a lot of wonderful things. And then they experienced some really shitty things and a lot of loss. They lost their friends twice, and lost their mother in many ways. i wasn’t there the way that I wanted to be; I did the best I could with what I had and I hope in the end that proves to be enough. But ultimately they prevailed and they are both good and happy now. I have a great relationship with both of them, and that’s what counts.

I will never say that Jerry Lee cheating on me and destroying my old life was a blessing, or the best thing to ever happen to me. What I will say now though is he ended up giving me a second chance. He gave me the opportunity to live a much better life than the one I could have ever hoped to have lived with him. I get to frame this one. I get to choose. I can make this new life into whatever I want.

How’s that for change, 2020?

This Used To Be My Wal-Mart, Part 2

Just to show you I’m not all doom and gloom here is the second thing I took away from my recent trip to my former town.

This used to be my playground

This used to be my childhood dream

This used to be the place I ran to

Whenever I was in need

Of a friend

Why did it have to end

And why do they always say

Don’t look back

Keep your head held high

Don’t ask them why

Because life is short

And before you know

You’re feeling old

And your heart is breaking

Don’t hold on to the past

Well that’s too much to ask

Memories aren’t always a horrible thing. I can’t say I personally have a lot of wonderful memories from my time in Harrisonburg. Picasso was beginning to settle in and find his footing. Rock Star was rocking it. I think what I miss most is my children’s security. And I do miss my house. I lovingly decorated it. I hand picked every piece of furniture. I made it a home.

What I took away from the song is what Madonna sings in the first verse. You don’t look back. You keep your head held high. You don’t hold on to the past.

It was a whirlwind two years. I could probably go so far as to say it was a move that never should have happened. Yet it did and it’s now a part of my past.

The secret, I think, is to take the memories, learn from the experience, and be thankful for the good parts, but to not dwell on the past.

It’s over. Done. You can question, “Why?” all you’d like but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s finished. Better to ask yourself where you go from here. What does the future hold? What do you want it to look like?

The mobster frequently asks, “What if?” What if our ex’s hadn’t done this to us? What if we never got divorced? What if our lives played out perfectly like we had hoped when we first got married so many years ago? He will then go on to say he doesn’t want to start over at age 50. It’s not right; it’s not fair.

I finally had to tell him that whenever he says things like that it makes me a little sad because if they had done the right thing then we never would have met. Some of you may be wondering, “Why is that such a bad thing? Wouldn’t you like to have your big house and your beautiful pool once again?” Well, sure. But in the months that I’ve been with the mobster I have come to realize he is a much better partner for me than the ex ever was. I would like to think he would say the same thing about me.

When I finally told him that he was quick to reassure me that’s not what he meant at all. He simply wishes that he was in a better situation. He wishes that his kids didn’t have to deal with the mess their mom has created. He wonders what he could have accomplished if he had had an encouraging, supportive partner instead of basically raising a fifth child. It basically comes down to him feeling like he has nothing to show for all his years of hard work.

We could sit around discussing what happened and what we could have done differently forever. We could spend years talking about the injustices. We could lose ourselves in memories and romanticize the past. Or, we can choose to focus on what is yet to be.

I’m trying very hard to leave the past behind. I’m looking towards the future. That may have been my Wal-Mart but I’ve moved on.

Life Is Good

I was browsing through some recent pictures recently. I’m not sure what I was looking at but this feeling of peace came over me. It suddenly hit me- I’m happy. I’m content. Despite CF’s ongoing antics (more on that later), and despite my precarious financial situation I’m happy.

I have my family around me. Just last week my niece and my mom went on the Wine Walk with me. That’s something I never would have experienced still married to CF. We go out to dinner to celebrate birthdays and big events- my kids and myself, my mom, my brother and his family. We travel for other events like graduations together as well. My daughter’s relationship with her cousin is more like that of sisters instead of cousins. Both of my kids get to finish growing up around their grandmother, uncle, aunt, and cousins. Had CF and I remained married those are things they wouldn’t have had. We would never have moved back to this area.

The mobster and I are doing great over a year into our relationship. If we’ve both been wearing masks then they are staying firmly in place. We still talk several times a day. We still laugh. We still get together as often as possible. In fact, he’s coming to Rock Star’s Family Weekend with me this weekend. He is truly the best thing that’s ever happened to me. He used to always say, “Except for your kids,” in the early days, and I would reply, “My kids don’t count. They didn’t happen to me; I made them!” I tell him everything. He calms me down when I’m freaking out, and I like to think I calm him down when he’s freaking out. He’s funny, sweet, romantic, and loving. He even butters my biscuits for me.  He is the love of my life.

I’m reconnecting with friends, both old and new. I try to be conscious about reaching out.  I know I tend to get in a rut and expect others to reach out but I’m doing more of the reaching nowadays. My best friend and I discovered SnapChat (not like we didn’t know it existed before) and now we SnapChat every day. We love playing with the filters.

I still like my job. It doesn’t happen to pay me over $100,000 a year but I like it. The day goes by quickly and I feel like I’m actually doing something. I fight fraud, dammit! I’m actually not bad at it.

My two dogs are still alive and kicking.

My kids are doing well. They are my greatest achievement.

Picasso had to take the bus to school the first two weeks of school and ended up reconnecting with an old friend from middle school. He began cello lessons and despite bellyaching about them the first day he really likes them. He still spends way too much time on his Xbox but overall, he seems pretty happy. He likes his classes a lot better this year and aside from English, where he conveniently forgot to do his summer assignment, he has good grades. Hopefully, he will have enough time to improve his English grade. He also made the decision to cut about 6 inches off his hair. He said he didn’t want to look like teenage Jesus. Unfortunately, he now thinks he looks like a 1960s woman. My mom told him she didn’t know what the big deal was because he used to look like a 1970s woman. I think he simply looks adorable.

Rock Star is loving college. She just went through sorority recruitment and accepted a bid from her top choice. I’m ecstatic for her. She is very happy down there. For that I am grateful. After the last three years she deserves some happiness. I happened to take a look at her Instagram page today at lunch and she had posted a picture of her and all her new sorority sisters. The messages she received in response were heartwarming. All these new sisters of hers reaching out and welcoming her home. My heart swelled with happiness and my eyes almost overflowed with joy.

In other exciting news, with my daughter off to college I have moved from the couch to an actual bed. It’s very cozy with three dogs but it will undoubtedly be nice come winter with three furry bodies snuggled up to me.

That is it for me. Just a short little update letting everyone know I am happy.


Welcome to Part 2!

I will never again be a full-time stay at home mom to my kids and that’s okay. In this new life my kids see me going off to work. They see me paying bills and being a role model. They see me having to juggle things and weigh whether or not it’s worth it to take time off. Both of my kids are older now, and while I think teenagers especially need parental influence and supervision, they will be fine without me standing at the ready 24/7 to take them wherever they want to go. We will always have the many memories from when I was able to stay at home with them.

My old home with its granite countertops and 4000 square feet of living space is a thing of the past. In this new life I get to focus on what truly matters- and that’s not a house. For now I am living with my mom. With Rock Star off to college I actually have a room and a bed to call my own (at least while she’s at school). Picasso gets to spend a lot of quality time with his Nana. She’s willing to do my laundry and willing to cook most nights.

When I do finally go looking for a house I don’t need 4 or 5 bedrooms. I don’t need 4000 square feet. This time, on my own, I’m looking for quirky and charming, with a low mortgage payment. Honestly, I look at the $300,000+ homes in my area and I am appalled at how little you get for so much money. Most of it is location, and since I don’t have to worry much longer about school districts I can move anywhere I choose.

I can replace all the “things” that I once owned. Hopefully, this time around I will be pickier about what I choose to purchase. I can always shop yard sales, consignment stores, and Goodwill/Salvation Army.

In my new life I am closer to family. We are able to get together for birthdays, Mother’s Day, and other special events.

In my old life I was married to CF. He spent most of his life in his bedroom, watching TV. There were frequent tantrums, freak outs, and crying episodes when things weren’t going his way. He didn’t like PDA, although strangely enough that didn’t stop him from groping me in public. Almost every picture we took together he looks like he’s in a hostage situation. He didn’t support me; hell, I don’t think he ever really knew me. His big contribution was his paycheck, and he liked to lord that over me, even when I was working as well. He didn’t usually participate in family events. He dreaded the holidays. He pretty much sucked the joy out of life.

In my new life I’m with the mobster, and that is probably the best thing in this new life. I finally have someone who is sane and normal. He doesn’t freak out over the little things. He doesn’t look like he’s being coerced into posing with me every time we take a picture together. He supports me; he tells me I’m wonderful and that I can do anything. He cares about my kids and is willing to help out with them where he can. He loves the holidays and loves being a family man. He is joyful and funny. I wouldn’t trade him for the world.

Infidelity and divorce is a game changer. It forever changes “normal”. What I’m about to say doesn’t happen overnight; it takes a while for this message to finally sink in. For me it’s taken damn near three years. In many ways this is an exciting new chapter. You can write whatever story you want. Yes, there are humps. There are fucking mountains! There are challenges. Ultimately though you are the author of your own destiny. You have a chance to do anything you want to do.

Did you want to go back to school but your spouse always discouraged it? Now you can. Did you want to take dance lessons but didn’t think you could because it would take time away from the family, or your spouse just didn’t want to? Now you can. Did you want to have cereal for dinner, or tell the kids to fend for themselves while you watch Netflix and munch on popcorn, but you always needed to make dinner for the spouse? Now you can. Did you always love Indian food but your spouse hated it so you never made it? Now you can make it as often as you’d like. Did your spouse discourage outside relationships? Now you’re free of that; rediscover those friendships. Did your spouse always insist on watching something, or mock what you wanted to watch? Now you don’t ever have to listen to that person complain about it again. I will say this much for having your life upended: You are now able to take the time to figure out what makes you tick. What do you like? What do you want to do?

Have you ever seen that story about going to Holland? It was written by Emily Perl Kingsley, a mother of a special needs child. In it, she’s trying to explain what it’s like when you give birth to and raise a child with special needs. She compares it to planning a grand vacation to Italy. She talks about how you research before you go. You read up on all the tourist sites, everything there is to do there. You plan out what you want to see when you are there. You investigate the culture and the food. You might even learn a few phrases of Italian before you go. You immerse yourself in all things Italy. And then the big day comes and the flight attendant says, “Welcome to Holland!” You are stunned! This was not the plan. You were going to Italy! But alas, the plans changed and you are now in Holland and you can’t go to Italy. Holland is where you will remain. So now you buy a different guidebook, and you learn different phrases, and you will eat different foods and encounter people you never would have met if you had gone to Italy.

I think that’s a wonderful analogy. We didn’t plan this. We had something completely different in mind for our lives. We got married, had babies, maybe accumulated a few pets, bought a house, maybe moved around the country, and planned on spending the rest of our lives with this person we married. We thought we knew our destination. Italy! But instead our plans detoured. Our spouse cheated. The house had to be sold. Maybe we had to move out of town or out of the state. Friends were lost. Family was lost. The spouse is gone- off with the affair partner. And now we are in Holland.

Here is the important part. As the author says in her essay, “The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine, and disease. It’s just a different place.”

I suppose in those early days we could argue about how horrible and disgusting this whole process is. But she goes on to say, “But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around… and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills… and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.”

I will never be back to my old normal again. I don’t have a large home with granite countertops and a pool and brand new furniture. I don’t have my air hockey table or foosball table anymore. I can no longer spend whatever I want. I don’t volunteer for PTA, or play Bunko. My friends are scattered all over. I’m no longer a stay at home mom with plenty of down time. Instead I am trying to develop a new normal; I will try to appreciate all the things that Holland brings into my life. Being in control of my own life. Not having to worry about what CF wants. Having a wonderful new man in my life who appreciates me. A whole new life and adventure. Focusing on different things. Trying to advance at my job and take any new opportunities that come my way. Maybe I’ll even go back to school to get my Masters or to develop a career in the medical field. Just because I don’t earn much now doesn’t mean I can’t earn more in the future. I won’t volunteer in PTA but that doesn’t mean volunteering is off the table forever; it will just look different.

Yes, you will mourn, she cautions. She writes of how everyone is busy coming and going from Italy, bragging about the wonderful time and all the fantastic things they’re doing. “And for the rest of your life, you will say, ‘Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.’ And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.”

That is so true. Even once you make your peace with it you are still reminded of what you’ve lost. Every time I hear “The Best Day of My Life” I want to cry. It reminds me of the lip dub Rock Star’s school did. There she was, a brand new freshman, on the gymnastics team, and she was doing back handsprings and a full in the video. She was amazing, and so happy. When I hear “Steal My Girl” it reminds me of the days she and I would sing along in the car on our way home from practice. When I see pictures of those long ago days- Picasso surrounded by his friends, Picasso dressed in full hockey gear, or Rock Star posing with her teammates or best friend, it reminds me of all that was lost. I still have the real estate app on my phone from when we were house hunting in Virginia. I can’t take it off and yet it pains me to even look.

The trick is to stop focusing on the pain and to focus on the new, to focus on what is waiting. As the author reminds us, “…if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.

I won’t ever be one of those people who says that divorce is a good thing. It’s painful, even when cheating is not the reason for the split. It destroys families. It does a number on the cheated on person. That’s not to say, however, that good can’t come out of it. I believe it can. I believe that there is a life worth living out there. You just have to take the initiative and go for it. Sometimes we love the lives we had and we think we’ll never have anything close to that again. After it’s all been smashed to smithereens we find out that the old life was an illusion; it was never what we thought we had. And this new life- it’s real. It’s ours. We discover that this new, authentic life is the one we were supposed to be living. This new life in Holland can be awesome if you only let go of the dream of Italy.

Yet Another Thing Stolen

I was perusing Facebook the other day when I came across a picture from a longtime friend. It was a picture of her son and his friends playing football. She said something to the effect of, “To some it’s just a picture of four boys playing football. To me it’s an end of an era.” She had watched for years as her son and those boys had played football in her front yard. Now they would all be leaving for college. She cried as she said goodbye to her son’s friends, having known them pretty much their entire lives. She wasn’t just sending her own child off on a new adventure. She was sending off all of these kids that had been a part of her life through her kids.

I smiled wistfully because I knew exactly what she meant. My house was once the neighborhood gathering spot. I had kids in and out all the time. I was usually the designated chauffeur. I can’t say that I had known my kids’ friends their entire lives because we moved when the kids were 4 and 6, but their friends had been around for a long time before we left for Virginia. Even in Virginia Rock Star had a close group of friends that were around quite a bit.

Then we moved here. She graduated. The silence was deafening. I didn’t get to cheer for other kids. I didn’t know any of the others. All the kids I had watched grow up were 1500 and 600 miles away. I missed graduation parties and college send offs. I missed the final year of gymnastics for so many of the girls that my daughter grew up with. I missed a Senior Night that meant anything. She had only been there a year when the first Senior Night happened. She felt no school spirit. She didn’t care about those people. It was going through the motions; she couldn’t even mention all her accomplishments because what happened at her previous school didn’t count.

She did not want a graduation party. Other people insisted she needed one. We caved. It sucked. It’s a little difficult to have a huge celebration when you’ve been someplace for only two years.

The last three graduation parties I’ve been to the graduates have had a joint party with one or two other friends. The guest list was extensive. The food was catered. The decorations were beautiful. At least two of them had games and music.

My niece organized Rock Star’s party. She did a beautiful job with the decorations. Alas, it rained so most of her work was undone and then re-done inside. That pretty much eliminated the games from Rock Star’s party. I couldn’t afford a DJ. Or a photo booth which I really wanted. I spent hundreds on food; the sub and potato salad was store bought, as were the cookies and cake. But I made several dips and salads, and my brother provided grilled chicken and macaroni and cheese. Most disappointing though was the guest list.

We had a total of 32 people that attended, including myself. She had eight friends plus her boyfriend show up, and her friends all showed up the last hour- 6 of them showing up in the last 20-30 minutes. I didn’t really have any friends to invite. Almost all of them live in Utah. I invited two of my friends from high school; one showed up. The mobster came up as promised. Her boyfriend’s family came as well. The rest was family. I didn’t really need a graduation party for that. It wasn’t a horrendous day, and nothing horrible happened, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking, “I can’t believe I spent all this money on such a disappointing party.” It was absolutely a waste of money and time.

These are the little things people don’t mention when they are extolling the virtues of the “exuberant defiance” of affairs. It’s kinda messy and fairly sad, so they prefer to focus on the the ol’ standby of happiness. Who can argue with that?

Yes, he shat all over his daughter’s life… but look how HAPPY he is!

High school graduation is but a blip in the course of a person’s life. Childhood will be a fading memory. Focus on the future! The important thing is HAPPINESS!

Just as you’ve gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette, you’ve gotta shatter a few lives to make yourself happy.

I do try to remember that, you know? I repeatedly tell myself that while it wasn’t what I was expecting high school is a mere four years and it’s over before you know it. It isn’t necessarily a foreshadowing of your life to come. Stop being dramatic, Sam, and just get with the program. So what if you didn’t get to see the kids your kids grew up with graduate? Big deal! There are worse things in life. Yep, life got screwed up by the cheating asshole ex you married but stop dwelling on it and focus on the positives.

Your kid is alive. She graduated. She will hopefully have an amazing time at college. God knows she is so excited about it. Her graduation party was a disappointment but you were expecting that. It’s all over and done so stop whining and get on with life.

It doesn’t work for the most part. I still hate his fucking guts at times like this. I’m okay with that for now.


End Of An Era

I was on vacation this week. It’s Rock Star’s last full week at home. I drop her off on Wednesday. It will be the end of an era. No longer will I have two children at home full time. This year I will be sending only one child off to high school. Man, I am going to miss that girl of mine. At the same time I’m a little bit excited about the thought of it being just me and Picasso. He’s a much quieter kid. He tells me all the time, “Mom, I’m an extreme introvert.” He’s my kid that will pass on dinner invitations in favor of playing Xbox with his friends, suggesting that I “bring him something back” instead.

I’ve enjoyed this past week. It’s been me and Rock Star. It’s been mostly shopping and eating out. We went to Chicago on Monday and visited Shedd Aquarium before shopping until we dropped. Tuesday was shopping for more clothes and for her dorm. I swear, her dorm room is going to look nicer than my first apartment! She and her roommate have a color theme and everything. We shopped some more on Wednesday. Thursday we got pedicures and massages and then Friday we went to see a movie. What I’ve enjoyed most though has just been the conversations. Being able to sit and listen to her tell me things like she always has.

These past few years have been tough. Between my work schedule and her school, work, and cheer schedule it doesn’t seem like we’ve been able to spend nearly as much time together. When she is home her boyfriend is over and she’s off with him. Maybe that’s nature’s way of preparing us for a life without them. But I’ve missed it. And now I will miss weeks and months without her. I’m preparing myself to cry after I’ve dropped her off, so I probably won’t now. That’s the way it always happens. When you prep for it it doesn’t happen. If you think you’ll be fine, that’s when you end up a blubbering mess.