Monday, July 28, 2014

Welcome to the beaver show

I am always astounded by my children's intense love of being out in the wilderness when we are camping.

Not because there is anything about being out in the wilderness that isn't great, but because these are children who definitely enjoy their creature comforts, particularly when it comes to electronic entertainment.  Nooks, Wii, DVDs, Netflix, TV-on-demand -- they're down with it all.  Ours is a household in which I try to carefully monitor screen time, and when the ease of letting them be entertained by electronics wins out so that I can do the dishes or the laundry to even read my own book, I feel like a bad mother.

But then I see how happy they are splashing in a lake or looking for bugs or sitting by the fire, and I realize that I'm doing OK by them.

We went back up to Steamboat Lake State Park this weekend. The drive up through north-central Colorado was, as ever, breathtakingly beautiful.

We set up camp in the dark and in the rain. (I want to give a shout-out to the mountain dwellers of Colorado: if you are having issues with precipitation or drought, invite me to come pitch a tent on your land.  You will be deluged with water in no time.)  We woke up, once again, in a field of wildflowers, next to a lake.

The kids busied themselves finding little pieces of wood and throwing them in the fire.

When the morning clouds burned off and it warmed up, we made friends with our camp neighbors and swam.

In the background is Hahn's Peak, which last year we dubbed "Boob Mountain."  The name stuck.
Consistent with our camping history, the trip was not without its share of drama and adventure.  The people at the next campsite over had their dogs with them - two very sweet, slobbery, friendly Bernese mountain dogs.  Josie loves dogs, but these dogs were big and she's very little and when they started chasing her and jumping around and barking, wanting to play, she misunderstood their intentions and lost her shit.  J scooped her up and brought her to me, and it took about 10 minutes of holding her tightly and soothing her to get her to stop shaking.

Then we headed into town to go tubing on the Yampa River.  We went last year, and it's a fun, mellow float in shallow water, but at one point Zeke went down some very gentle rapids, leaned forward in his tube to get a better look at the water, and fell out.  The water was deeper than normal at that point, and a little bit churn-y, and he got pushed under water and had to grab his tube and make his way out of the churn.  He got himself over to the shallow water on the side of the river, but not without swallowing a bunch of water and being terrified by the experience.

But everyone survived their ordeals.  After tubing, we headed back to camp to chill out.  There was a presentation by one of the rangers about beavers, so we sat in on that and learned about the differences between muskrats and beavers, the way beavers build their dams and lodges, the benefits they provide to riparian systems, and all kinds of other interesting facts.  Of course, because I am twelve, the entire time I was thinking about this:

After the seminar, we went for a drive at dusk to look for wildlife - we saw two moose, sixteen deer, and one beaver lodge.  We then headed back to eat, build a fire, roast marshmallows, and gaze in wonder at the Milky Way.

At one point, I took Josie over to the campsite toilet so she could go potty.  While we were waiting to use it, she saw a family that had also been at the ranger's presentation.

She yelled, loudly, "Mama!!  I know that kid!  We saw him at the beaver show!"

I got some weird looks and raised eyebrows from some of the other people in line.

I just shrugged, smiled at them and said, "that's right, sweetie.  We sure did."

Monday, July 21, 2014

About face

At first, when everything was happening so fast and I realized it was really and truly over, I was sad.  Weepy, even.

But then I wept in front of him, and let him know that even though it was what we both wanted, I still mourned the loss of the relationship - the life - I thought we were going to have.

And his reaction was to shrug.

The familiar behaviors and tendencies resurface, and I remember that this is what I want.  I look up at the sky and remind myself that life is wide open to me now.

The lease is signed, and boxes are filled and moved to the place across the street.

My closet has so much room!  The piles of clutter -- tools, little bits of paper that are his organizing system, worn down pencil stubs that are apparently de rigeur in the construction industry, books about the electrical code -- are replaced with clean spaces.

I look around the house and everything looks like a blank slate.  I can get rid of the enormous bed that takes up too much room in the bedroom alcove, so that I have to squeeze between it and the wall to get into bed.  I can paint the walls in the bright colors that remind me of India.  With the refinancing money, I can fix the 120-year-old brick work, and repaint, and recarpet, and update the kitchen.

I'm filling out forms and making arrangements and it's all happening.

Suddenly it feels really, really good.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Goodbye sunshine, take care of yourself

Since deciding to separate, J and I have settled into a relatively comfortable, peaceful co-existence of living in the house (in separate bedrooms) and sharing the duties of the household and the children.  Outwardly, it wasn't much different from the way we had been living before, but emotionally, it was somewhat easier because we knew where we stood with each other instead of just feeling shitty about being in an unhappy marriage.

Life went on.  We go to the pool with the kids together.  He came with for my family's annual July beach vacation.  We're going to a birthday party tomorrow and camping in Steamboat (the real one) next weekend.

Still, I've felt like I'm in limbo.

Well, it's amazing how quickly things happen.

A few weeks ago I was walking to the bus stop to go to work and I noticed an "apartment for rent" sign in front of a house.  The house is maybe 100 yards from my house, catty-cornered across the street.  I took a picture of the sign (with the phone number) and texted it to J.  Turns out it's a large 1-bedroom, with room for a bunk bed for the kids, in a layout that's similar to the upstairs of our house.  J went to look at it and then submitted an application for the apartment.

He was worried about being able to afford the rent, because the company he worked for were a bunch of cheap assholes who didn't pay him anything close to what he's worth.  But it was looking like a viable option - I'll be buying J out of his share of our house, so he'll have a little bit of money to get himself set up, and he had been studying for his journeyman electrician licensing exam, in the hopes that if he passed, he'd be able to command a higher income.

But he was super-nervous about passing.  He knows the stuff cold, but has awful, horrible test taking anxiety, and has failed three times before.  He's been studying his ass off for months and months, but still had no confidence in himself, notwithstanding my efforts to reassure him.

In the meantime, the beach vacation was coming up, and the plane tickets were paid for.  He notified the boss months in advance that he was going to be taking that week off.  The boss said nothing...

...until a few weeks ago, when he told J that he couldn't go on vacation and that if he did, he'd be fired.

J took a look at Craigslist and found an enormous number of employers looking for electricians.  He figured that if he were canned, it would take him about a day and a half to secure another job, especially if he passed the exam, which he was taking two days before coming to the beach.  So he decided to (figuratively) tell the boss to go piss up a rope.

He took the exam and passed with flying colors (he got 100%, actually).  The next day, he dropped the company van and phone at his employer's building, and the day after that he joined us in North Carolina.  The day after that he went on Craigslist and submitted his updated resume to four different companies that were looking for licensed journeymen.  He got call-backs from all four, interviewed with all four when he returned to Denver, and got four job offers, including one from an established, highly reputable company that offers great pay and benefits - the guy that offered the job told him that if he got a better offer, he'd match it.

So he took the great offer.  He'll be making approximately 60% more than his previous company was paying him, plus amazing benefits.  Between his new salary, the money from the house, and the money he'll eventually get from his dad's estate, he'll be comfortable and able to buy a place of his own.

And he got the apartment across the street for the time being.  He signed a lease today and will have the place on Sunday.


On one hand, it's what we've both been working towards.  It provides the actual separation that will lead the way to us getting on with our lives and finalizing a divorce.

On the other, it still makes me sad.  It's really over.  I mourn the loss of the marriage I thought I was going to have. I'm a statistic.  I failed.

Even though the marriage is done, and we both agree it's done, and I want it to be done ... I feel like my heart is breaking all over again.

I will be fine, I know.  But for now, I'm sad.