Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Songs About the New World

Aerie and I arranged to get together last night and talk details for our divorce decree. We're doing our best to make this transition as amicable as possible. I've been saying and thinking that word a lot lately. Amicable. Amicable.

And now that we're not living together, and we're navigating our new lives apart and our new schedules as Joint Managing Conservators instead of, you know, whatever we were before, things really are fairly amicable. I look around me at the divorce stories that suddenly seem to be everywhere, and if divorcing well is a competition, I think we're winning. She's not taking out a Protective Order against me and fighting in court for full custody. We're not pitting our friends against each other or making them choose sides. She's not hiding money from joint accounts. I'm not stalking her, or playing mind games or threatening her with dastardly deeds. Neither of us is telling Thumper that the other parent is awful. He's not a pawn in some jacked up game between us. We're just... you know... amicable.

But with all this amicability flying around everywhere, and with the excitement of exploring my new life outside of all of the old roles and patterns I'd been living under for so many years, I thought that I was past the point of getting upset.  Yes, I really thought that after 23 years, I was emotionally over the hump, just six months after the word "divorce" was first uttered. I wasn't.

I've picked Thumper up and dropped him off at her house, that used to be our house. I've driven through the neighborhood before and been inside the house picking up clothes and furniture and piles of stuff. But last night, for some reason, it hit me harder. I saw neighbors walking and jogging through the neighborhood that used to be mine but isn't now, that I used to walk and jog through but won't anymore. The loop that I used to push a stroller around, past that playground we've been going to since Thumper was a brand new baby and I was a brand new stay-at-home dad. I stood on the porch and rang the bell. I didn't make myself at home and get a soda out of the fridge, or plates from the cabinet for the sandwiches I brought for us to eat while we worked. It's her house now, her stuff, her kitchen. I used the guest bathroom, not the master, and when I came out and sat down at the kitchen table to start working with her on details, I was a little shocked to find myself crying. The anger, the sorrow, the regret, the loss, they are all still real, no matter how much I want them to be memories now.

I hadn't been on the blog in quite some time. I saw I had an unpublished draft post from January, about the time the d-word first came up, that was entirely the lyrics to "Love's Recovery" by Indigo Girls. At the time, there still seemed a slim chance, but now our storm has passed and that slim chance is gone. A lot of the words fit, including the friends we thought were so together. So I'm sure I'm a cliché, 43 and divorcing, but the emotions don't feel so cliché now that I'm in them.

But now I'm just getting maudlin.

It's funny how things come to us sometimes all at once. I've never been much of a country music fan. I have a dear friend who's let me borrow her truck a few times through all of this moving of stuff, and a good many of her stereo's presets are country stations. Not wanting to jack with her settings, I listened to country music while I drove. I also worked a country music festival at my beloved arena not too long ago, and I thought some of those songs were downright toe-tappable. But still, I think of myself as too good to listen to country, really, and complained about having "Rock me, Mama, like a wagon wheel" stuck in my head. I think I'm too smart, I suppose. I have an ugly bias against it where words like "hillbilly" and "redneck" and "Deliverance" pop into my mind.

Then a friend posted a photo of what she saw as "a cool cat," and I was transported instantly back to 1979, when Hoyt Axton appeared on my favorite TV show, WKRP in Cincinnati. I still remember the hooks to "Jealous Man" and "Della and the Dealer" from that show, though honestly, I must've seen them over and over again in syndication throughout the '80s for me to have memorized them like that. But I instantly commented on my friend's picture, "If that cat could talk, what tales he'd tell about Della and the dealer and the dog as well. But that cat was cool, and he never said a mumblin' word." She probably wondered what in the hell any of that had to do with a cat she saw on a street in Italy.

Later, I read Film Crit Hulk's article about Disney's Robin Hood that mentioned Roger Miller's original songs, and I found myself again inexplicably contemplating a master of '60s tongue-in-cheek country storytelling. So today, while spending the rest of my lunch hour walking around and around the concourse of my beloved arena to burn off the brisket and sausage I ate, I plugged "Hoyt Axton" into Pandora on my phone and spent a little bit of a while with Hoyt, Roger, Willie, Waylon, Johnny, Hank Jr., Merle, Jerry Reed, and Jimmy Dean. I don't know why I'm on a first name basis with everybody but Jerry and Jimmy, but there you go. I didn't even know Jimmy Dean was a singer. I thought he just sold sausage. My mom met him in an Eckerd's drug store once. Or so my faulty memory tells me the story goes.

So I was smiling as I walked, 'round and 'round, both at the music and at my own folly. I've always known so many things that it turned out I didn't know at all. Like that my marriage would last forever, and that I hated country music. That the end of the marriage would be the end of the world. But nah. It's working out. I've always been crazy, but it's kept me from going insane.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

New Beginnings

It's been a strange and difficult couple of years here in Rodiusland. I went through a period of depression and lethargy stemming largely from my fear and uncertainty over my changing role in my family as Thumper moved through his early elementary school years. I didn't feel necessary as a full-time stay-at-home dad, but I didn't know how to re-enter the workforce or how to sell myself as a valuable addition to an employer's team after so long in a mostly domestic role. I didn't know what to do with myself, so I spent too much time doing nothing. It took me a little bit of a while to recognize that the feeling of being stuck, of not wanting to move, was a symptom of depression and that I needed to get help.

I'm coming out of that depression now, with the help of therapy, medication, and a full-time job that redefines my role significantly. I'm weaning off the medication, and I've moved on from my therapist with her blessings. She and I agreed I'm on the right path now, approaching my life and its difficulties and its opportunities with a new attitude. Aerie and I are divorcing, a further redefinition of my role. We have not been a happy or effective partnership for some time, but we're working on breaking up that partnership as amicably as we can. Both of us are focused on Thumper and what's best for him as we move forward into an entirely new stage of our lives after nearly 23 years together.

I've missed writing about my life, but I didn't have much to say, and frankly much of what I had to say over the past 6 months was best said privately. I live my life visibly here and on Facebook, some would say too publicly for my own good. But, as has been said of me, I never could keep my f***in' mouth shut, so I couldn't stay away from this blog forever. I'm going to try to continue to use this space as a place where I can think aloud, talk about my life and my understanding of it, and keep my friends and family aware of and involved in what Thumper and I are up to and how I feel about it. I will also do my best not to talk publicly about things I shouldn't, especially as the divorce proceeds.

Honestly, though, for anyone out there who has wondered what became of me, I am finally in a really good place. I'm working at a place that I love and as part of a team whose purpose and goals I find valuable and worthwhile. I have my own apartment, and Aerie and I are splitting custody 50/50. We alternate weeks, which means I get lots of time with my my favorite person in the entire world. On our off weeks, we each have dinner with the little man one night, which means it's never more than a few days before he sees the parent he's not staying with that week. It's a great arrangement, giving me time to focus on him and time to explore my new life away from the woman who has been my wife, fiancée, girlfriend, and/or roommate for more than half of my life. It's a strange transition, but also an exciting one. There were plenty of hurt feelings, anger, accusations, and general unpleasantness through the first half of this year, but now, I feel like things are finally truly getting better for both her and for me, which can't help but make things better for Thumper. That we both love him and want what's best for him, I have no doubt.

So, uh... What'd I miss? What's new with you?
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