Groundhog Day CXXIII

Phil saw his shadow. Bogus.

Phil saw his shadow. Bogus.

“This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement

of a large squirrel predicting the weather.” – Phil Connors, Groundhog Day

It was just one of those days.

Things, breaking.

Dad’s closest friend called. He’d just totaled his wife’s brand-new car. My five-year-old son was complaining that one of his legs was hurting. The old Jeep Cherokee-turned-snow-plow was having trouble starting and it was snowing. And not just regular snowing. It was of the bend-over-and-how-do-you-like-that? variety.

Our family only knows one way to deal with such trying circumstances. “Did somebody say ‘tequila?’”

Drinks started flowing early, because: Suck it, snow.

Last-minute preparations were being made for the annual Super Bowl party. It’s kind of a big deal. Dozens and dozens of people because my father is one of the few people on the planet who builds not one—but TWO—pretty massive bars on his property.

The only problem with having the greatest party location in the world is that everyone wants to come and bring everyone they know.

I think Dad used to like it. Hey, look at me. I’m in my fifties, and a million people come to my parties without me even inviting anyone!

Which is true. There will be 60-75 people here tonight without any sort of formal invitations being sent. People just know to come.

It would appear that Dad’s liking it less these days. Now, he’s more of the mind to have a bunch of his close friends here but maybe not worry about how much fun 20 strangers might be having.

I get it. But I’m also trying hard to be Take-Responsibility-for-your-Decisions Guy, and, hey Dad: If you build it, they will come.

Someone my dad doesn’t know very well who looks remarkably similar to R.E.M. front man Michael Stipe (I saw him at the Super Bowl party last year, looking very shiny and happy) wants to bring a bunch of his in-laws. I heard my father tell someone “No” for the first time, like, ever.

And all night, Dad was walking the line between crotchety old guy and total hilarity.

He leaned over to his friend who just hours earlier had totaled one of his vehicles, not particularly sympathetic because he had a Super Bowl party crisis on his hands with the possibility of Fake Michael Stipe showing up with his wife’s family.

“I mean, if you’re coming, I better know you, and I better like you!” he said.

A Different Life Now

Dad’s not unkind. He just cares less about making new friends than someone like me. I live a life isolated from most of my friends and family.

I live somewhere where I have no roots.

My dad’s side of the family is 500 miles west of my house. He lives in the general vicinity of where he grew up surrounded by lifelong friends. And my mom’s side of the family is more than 200 miles away despite also being in Ohio. She too, lives surrounded by familiarity.

I took a different path. Choosing independence. Moving away for college. Then moving to Florida after college. Then returning to Ohio, but living about as far away from “home” as Buckeye State geography allows.

My ex-wife is from the area—the area in which I now live. Her extended family lives there. My in-laws. An entire family. Evaporated because of divorce.

And now it’s just me. Just me and the boy and the handful of friends I’ve been fortunate to get to know over the past seven years.

I don’t like to be jealous of my father. Especially because no human being has done more for me in my life than that man. But deep down in the part of me I don’t talk about much? I envy people surrounded by friends and family. A built-in, reliable support system to help carry you through the challenging times.

There have been some challenging times.

It’s not loneliness from an entertainment or companionship standpoint. I have wonderful friends. It’s more the feeling that I have to deal with life 100-percent alone. That’s never happened before. And the 10 months that have passed since my family disappeared have done little to erase that feeling.

And now I’m back in the nest. Safe. Here’s my dad. The guy that fixes stuff that’s broken. Here are a million friends and family members. Masking the aloneness.

But a few days from now? It’s just going to be me again.

Just me back in the quiet house in Ohio. Fingers tapping these keys. Tap, tap, tap.

And you. You serving as my support system to fill a void I’m not sure it’s fair or healthy for me to ask you to fill.

It’s Cold Out There Every Day, What is This—Miami Beach? Not Hardly.

So, it’s a little like Groundhog Day now. Not the traditional real-life event which happened today in Punxsutawney, Pa., but the 1990s film starring Bill Murray, whose movies I’ve been going out of my way to watch lately. (Because I like laughing.)

Where most every day is the same. Unlike Phil Connors’ experience, the details change. But really, it’s just the same thing over and over again. And like Phil, I’m going to have to make some changes in my personal life to get me out of the rut.

Seeing friends and family is a powerful reminder of that.

Because something’s different. And anything different is good.

“There is no way that this winter is EVER going to end, as long as this groundhog keeps seeing his shadow. I don’t see any other way out. He’s got to be stopped. And I have to stop him.”

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36 thoughts on “Groundhog Day CXXIII

  1. I’m happy with where I live – I found home when I moved here 12 years ago, and I’m so grateful for that – but my family is 4 hours away. I’ve made my own family here from friends (and on the internet – I’ll never discount how important their friendship and support has been, either) but sometimes, I get this…I don’t know, yearning? I guess? For being able to pop over to my grandmother’s house for coffee, or to hang out with my dad for the day, or run into my uncle at the store, like so many of my friends here can, and do. It’s the pull between independence and roots, maybe. I’ve made my own roots here, but sometimes I miss the ones that were already in place when I was born.

    Like

  2. Dawn says:

    I’m going through the same thing. Something has to change. I have to change. Problem is I have noooooo clue what to do or where to start. I’ve been confident, let life unfold on it’s own, tried to make steps in the right direction…and I still seem to be in the same lonely place I was.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Equal parts attitude, effort, and good fortune, I think.

      But I clearly don’t know.

      I just know the best times are ahead of us. Please have a beautiful day, Dawn. :)

      Like

  3. Yatin says:

    I hear ya buddy. Support system is vital for emotional survival as oxygen & water for biological. I hope this Groundhog day signals some early warmth in your life. Hang in there

    Like

  4. I have a different problem with Super Bowl Sunday. It means no more football for eight months. To me, that’s like eight months of Groundhog Day, only without Sonny and Cher waking me up every morning. But that might just be me. Enjoy the game (and try to ignore the commercials… unless you like them).

    Like

  5. David says:

    Alternate somewhat unsentimental view: now you have the chance to know, without a doubt, that what you create is all your own. No inherited party invitations. No instant in-law families. It’s a modern version of being a pioneer just with (mostly) running water.

    Like

  6. dorothyemyers says:

    Thank you Matt, what you wonder, write down, then share, it’s a good reminder. That quirky movie speaks to how life feels sometimes, stuck spinning our wheels alone. It’s when Phil begins to “do good to feel good” that he breaks the spell. These are my exact thoughts this morning, what will I start my Monday with, what can I do that’s good, and not what will make me feel less lost. So what will I do, I don’t know yet, but I’m feeling more determined to do it.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      :)

      Thank you! Pretty good attitude to worry about what you can control and trying to do good things for others and ourselves.

      Takes all the woe-is-me out if the equation. Hope you have a great day.

      Like

  7. Yet again – excellent taste in movies! It is very challenging when you feel like you have to deal with life 100% on your own, but a few years from now, you’ll look back and see how much you were able to take on that you didn’t know you could! I’m proud of ya! Stay safe, and warm, and safe travels when you head back!

    Like

  8. I can totally relate. I’m at least 800 miles away from family, with the only nearby family being my ex-in-laws. I’ve managed to make my own set of friends, expanding upon the mutual ones I managed to keep after splitting from my ex, but there are absolutely days where I long for that kind of involuntary support system that only your own family can provide. You don’t have to care how you look when you see them. You don’t have to do anything while you’re there. And you don’t even have to act in a particularly pleasant manner. Everyone accepts that there’s a no return policy in place.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip, and safe travels!

    Like

  9. When in the midst of change it can be difficult to find that calm centre that feels like home (the inner home). The thing is, when in the midst of changes it can happen that the support system is changing, too. It feels scary and lonely at times. But in my experience it also always brought me closer to that inner home. And by that, old and new relationships improved.

    I have been in phases of such change several times in my life – and actually I’ve been in a real big shift since the last three years. Although I love my family, I can’t say that I know how a healthy family support system feels. Most of my old friendships broke away. And the new connections are still tender. But in spite of the sad, lonely and scary moments (and I’ve just had a whole day of those) – somehow, deep inside me I know that all is well.

    I know how hard it is when everything seems to break away and you are all on your own. I have a loving husband, now. But I’ve been on my own for a long time, before. Just remember that we rarely see the “bigger picture” when we are in the midst of things.

    I hope you and everybody at your dad’s party is having fun at the Superbowl, tonight!

    Much love,
    Steffi

    Like

  10. mjmsprt40 says:

    Some one of these days I’m going to have to tell my story. It’s a little hard to tell though because much of it would show me to be a class-A fool. Still, I get the loneliness that comes from being divorced, and while I still live in the area I’ve always known as “home” the fact is that my family has spread to the four winds so the support isn’t what it used to be.
    Enjoy the party. Wish I was there, even though in truth I don’t get into football much.

    Like

  11. I was ready to hit “like” from half way through. I told a friend I had helped another friend to move house the previous day. She looked sad and said “No-one ever asks me to help them.” (except for the huge favour she is doing me, she’d forgotten). I guess its things like that that make you feel part of the community. I’ve moved 20 times in 20 years (and divorced). I know that feeling. I am hoping this place is now home, apparently, it takes two years.

    Like

  12. Tara says:

    ‘Phil: I have been stabbed, shot, poisoned, frozen, hung, electrocuted, and burned.
    Rita: Oh, really?
    Phil: …and every morning I wake up without a scratch on me, not a dent in the fender… I am an immortal.’

    Sincerely,
    Big Groundhog Day Fan (it’s me, Tara)

    Like

  13. JenK says:

    Here’s a different perspective, if you will: I am living in the midst of my own family; currently divorcing another family living in the next town. I am surrounded by people who love me, support me and whom I love and support. I am a part of a community. Despite this beautiful connection and support system I have created over many years, I long for the independence I never chose, having instead chosen a path I thought I wanted, which turned out to be the one they wanted for me. I’m almost sure I know where I want to end up, and time will tell how I will get there, and if I actually wind up there. But the one thing I am sure about, is that I have the choice – this wasn’t always the case.

    When Phil chose to see things from a different perspective, to give back to others, his life began to change. The same thing happened for me, except that I chose to give something to myself instead of giving to others for the first time. And now, real change is happening within me.

    Matt, with the online community you have built here – you are never alone. Be well.

    P.S. I am a new fan!

    Like

  14. jessiesgirl says:

    It seems a shame to me that when two people divorce it usually means that you also have to divorce each others’ family. My ex was in my life, and my family’s life, for 24 years. And despite the fact that he and I were no longer going to be married, I didn’t feel like I had any right to restrict his contact with my family. Okay, I’ll admit at first I was angry and had fleeting thoughts like, “If I’m not good enough for him, then my family isn’t good enough for him. Can’t have your cake and eat it, too. Me and my family are a package deal. You don’t want me, then you can’t have them!”

    But that wasn’t fair to my family…or to my ex. We’ve been separated/divorced for 3+ years now, and he’s still in contact with my parents and my sister and her family. My parents thought of him like a son. To my niece and nephew, he will always be their uncle. They still do things together a few times a year. I have no desire to be a part of their get togethers. But I’m certainly not going to object to them either. It’s working out quite nicely for everyone.

    I wish you could work out a similar arrangement with your ex and your in-laws. I don’t know if it’s even a possibility, but it might be worth a try? I would hope your ex could recognize that you had relationships with her family that went beyond just being an in-law. But every person and every situation is different…just wanted you to know that it is possible, as I’m living proof.

    Enjoy your vacation, Matt. Soak up all the family time and cherish it. Let it fill up your spiritual gas tank so you can keep on trucking until the next time you see them. Hugs!

    Like

  15. Aussa Lorens says:

    I think I take having my siblings/nieces/nephews so close to me… I’m used to my friends being a thousand miles away but we still make efforts to get together several times a year and Skype takes care of the rest. I know that when I was in China I experienced an incredible loneliness because of the isolation… While Ohio is certainly not Chiner (that’s what we people who’ve lived in China like to call it, like secret code) I think that feeling of not having “your people” is probably much the same… I hope that you find a way to get out there and get some new people. At least you always have us, your internet people.

    Like

  16. […] though, enough generous people in my life got through to me. I read a blog post that changed my mood. And I remembered what I’m forgetting. I remembered why I write, why my […]

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