Tag Archives: Life After Divorce

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.”

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

The Fantasy Life, Vol. 2

My championship trophy from last season is so much smaller than the Shiva trophy, pictured here.

My championship trophy from last season is so much smaller than the Shiva trophy, pictured here.

Many of us have been there.

Drinking all night. I feel fine! Totally cool to drive.

Maybe your friends take your keys.

Maybe you drive and make it home safely.

Maybe you try to drive, realize you can’t, and pull over.

Maybe the fuzz busts you because you’re stupid.

Minus the increased likelihood of hurting someone or getting arrested, I’m kind of like the I-feel-fine! asshole right now.

Because most of the time, I have myself convinced that I’m fine.

But then I need only take a step back and look at the evidence objectively.

Non-manicured landscaping.

Dishes piled up in the kitchen.

Not calling my grandfather on his 80th birthday.

Letting my bills pile up, half-heartedly paying them, sometimes late.

Neglecting projects I’ve promised to complete for people I really care about.

Not exercising regularly.

But one thing stands out above them all: Abandoning my fantasy football teams.

The Comeback Tour

That’s what I thought the return of fantasy football and the NFL season represented for me. I wrote about it in The Fantasy Life.

The comeback tour. The bounce back. The ability to let loose and really enjoy something again that doesn’t matter. To derive pleasure from the inconsequential.

That, I’ve come to learn, is evidence of a charmed life.

Things started off okay, too. I didn’t draft particularly well this year. My teams aren’t as strong as I’d like due to a little bit of bad luck and a little bit of poor decision-making.

But I was active. Participating. Competing. Attentive. And doing relatively well.

And then, during the fourth week of the NFL season, the wheels came off.

I just checked out.

I didn’t make a conscious decision to check out.

I just kept remembering on late Sunday afternoons: Oh shit! I didn’t update my fantasy football lineups again!

Then I’d shrug.

Screw it. I don’t care.

For four consecutive weeks, I didn’t update my teams or participate or give any kind of shit at all.

I just don’t care.

Right now, 50 percent of you are like: Yeah, no shit. Fantasy football is stupid. I don’t get it.

Another 49 percent is like: Yeah, every league has guys like that!

And then there’s the remaining one percent of you who know me. Who know that, while I’m not the epitome of fantasy football nerddom, I do take it pretty seriously. All those people just had stroke-like symptoms.

Because I read fantasy football magazines. Study. Watch shows. Have several conversations leading up to the preseason. Analyze coaching and personnel changes, and evaluate how they might affect a particular player’s performance.

Formulate strategies for draft day. Target sleepers in later rounds, and debate how I want to tackle the meat of my roster early.

But here I am, right now, halfway through the football season.

And, I. DON’T. CARE.

“I love the Cleveland Browns as much as my family,” I’ve said more times than I can count.

I’ve always been joking, but that line was designed to illustrate the depths of my fandom for that football team and for the NFL, in general.

It’s 6 p.m. on Sunday. An NFL Sunday. I haven’t watched one minute of football today. Not one.

I played with my son. I made lunch and breakfast. I took him to a park. We played with toys outside and on the living-room floor. We played video games. We played basketball on his Little Tikes hoop in the basement. We watched a show about African pythons.

After dropping him off at his mother’s, I mowed my lawn.

And now I’m here.

Here at the keyboard. Feeding this place. Because it’s what I care about.

Because this is what matters to me now, after my family.

This Road is Long

This post-divorce road.

This journey to rediscover myself. To create a new life. A new normal.

It’s so long.

It’s so laughable to me that I was trying to date right from the get-go. And justifying it because I hadn’t gotten laid in 48,000 years, as if that somehow made me ready.

A lot of people say it takes a year.

Others have said more like two. That sounds about right to me.

And yet another said it takes about a year for every three in which you were married.

Which means I’ll feel normal again in another two and a half years. Ugh.

I want to be back. I want to feel like me again. So badly.

But I’m not ready.

I’m not ready to date. I’m not ready to hurt someone or be hurt by someone.

I’m not ready to be back to 100 percent at work.

I’m not ready to prepare good, balanced, time-consuming meals.

I’m not ready to get all my work done at home.

I’m not ready to be back volunteering at the shelter.

I’m not ready to wake up early every single day and make this body what it wants to be.

I’m not ready to get lost in the inconsequential. Football. Television. Books. Poker. Golf. Parties. Music.

I’m not ready.

You see, The Fantasy Life used to be regular life. And I didn’t know how good it was.

And now regular life is the elusive fantasy life.

And I can’t wait to taste it again.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: