(After mail in rebates: 392 dollars)
Fuel for 1250 mile round trip: 181.35
Damage to my psyche over the accommodations: Immeasurable
Seeing the joy in Detroit’s face when she gets to see her son: Priceless
Forget the drive there. Leaving at 630 AM and arriving 730 PM. A ten-hour drive turns into thirteen when you are pulling a trailer and have to stop for gas, or to eat, plus every 42 minutes for someone to pee. Forget the drive home, too. Although it was a happy but determined drive for me–homeward bound!–it was, I feel sure, a bittersweet trek through the metaphorical snow for Detroit. No real snow, of course. After all, this is only the end of November, so the temperatures were in the 50’s and 60’s, even in Detroit. I don’t understand why global warming is painted in such a harsh light . . .
Never mind ALL of that; let’s get to the meat of the matter. The stay. The accommodations at Chez Ex-Husband.
Thanksgiving, by the way, I had had a great day. I took my daughter and two of the grandkids to the parade. I’ll post pictures soon. Then I went to my dad’s and cooked, and then we went to visit my friend Bunny. It was a good day for me.
We left early Friday morning. The plan was–and pay attention here–we were going to stay at Detroit’s ex-husband’s apartment. For those of you who are new, retarded, or have difficulty paying attention, let me explain: He’s not really the ex. They are still married. But she left him.
And he agreed to let us stay there the weekend: Friday night, Saturday, Saturday night, until we left Sunday morning.
You know, I am usually so full of words (among other things), and yet, as I try to describe this. . .words fail me. It would be a great Holiday movie. Directed by Steve Guttenberg. Ellen Barkin would be Detroit. Billy Bob Thorton would be her ex, doing a Sling-blade kinda thing.
I believe Bruce Willis would play me.
I had occasionally remarked to Detroit how her Ex was probably trying to maneuver the situation into a patty-cake. (Briefly, a boy-girl-boy threesome.) He didn’t, not really–or maybe the fact that the small apartment was also continuously occupied with anywhere from four to twelve teenagers was an impediment. In any event, it didn’t happen, which the one thing for which I am truly grateful. I want my first threesome to be girl-boy-girl.
I slept poorly Friday night, in a recliner. On my back, with my mouth hanging open. My mouth was so dry, I was having dreams that I couldn’t talk because of how dry my mouth was. The little thing that hangs in the back of your throat–you know what the hell I mean–had swollen and dropped and threatened to choke me in my sleep.
Detroit slept well. On her back, reclined, was what she needed so she could breath, since she was dealing with a cold.
Saturday we went to the house to retrieve her stuff. Her older son was staying in the house, holed up in the upstairs like some sort of–
Look, I don’t hate the guy. Her 24-year old son, Brandon. The truth is, I could care less if he lives or dies, or grows mushrooms out of his ass. I look at Detroit, and I see it in her eyes, wondering where she went wrong in raising him. Was she not there enough? Was it because she was a single mother? That’s hard. Probably the hardest thing to do in this life is being a single mother.
Statistics aren’t in her favor, either. Most children raised by a single parent (and it usually is the mother–go figure) end up on drugs or involved in crime, or both. If you can raise a child to 18 and get past those things, you’ve done an amazing thing. But then–what happened? He doesn’t appear to be on drugs, and has no criminal past to speak of. What happened?
Well, if a person is a sociopath, it doesn’t matter how you raise them. The same goes for whatever his problem is. He was given every opportunity, and numerous second chances.
He’s not stupid. But he sure as shit isn’t smart. And he is lazy. He is the reason that socialism won’t work. He has such an unrealistic sense of entitlement: The world owes him everything. What-fucking-ever.
Detroit had walked outside, leaving me with him. He was explaining to me (yelling at me, because obviously I don’t understand how hard his life is) how no one can find a job right now. Completely untrue, of course. Anyone who wants a job can find one. It may not be a great job, or high paying, or fit his busy schedule of mooching and masturbation, but he doesn’t have the skill set necessary to procure the high-paying sales job he feels he is worth.
The house, by the way, is going to be sold. It’s abandoned, and he is living there like a squatter. Apparently he feels he has squatter’s rights. The appliances belong to Detroit. They certainly don’t belong to an out-of-work lazy sociopathic bum with no sense of direction and less ambition who never paid for a fucking thing in his entire life. He winds down from his tirade, and I say to him, "Hey, I’m not your father. I’m just telling you what I know. There are jobs out there. I’m sure your attitude has a lot to do with you not being able to get one."
He yells again, like a nine-year old child. I can see that he’s shaking, his adrenaline working, and he’s wondering if we are going to fight. He may not realize it, but he doesn’t want to fight me. "You’re not my father. You’re nothing. You’re the lowest scum on the planet!"
"At least I have a job, dude," I answer calmly. I consider him briefly. I am the lowest scum? Oh, because I "broke up" his happy home and his easy way of life? I made things difficult for him. He envisioned living in his mother’s attic in perpetuity. Drag. The last thing I said to him, ever, and then I dismissed him, walked passed him, and never gave him so much as a passing glance afterwards: "It’s going to be hilarious to see you homeless."
It was very telling, I thought, that her Ex didn’t have the wherewithal or mental capacity to have conversation with some teenagers. He set himself apart, looking alternately belligerent and hurt, hoping to be invited to sit at the big people table.
It was great to see Alex and his friends. Such a wide group of people, it was like a PC version of the OC: The fat kid, the gay kid, the nerd, the jock, the stoner, the smart chick, the vapid chick, throw in a black guy, a couple of normal dudes, add alcohol and serve.
Oh, did I say alcohol? Apparently, after I went to sleep, some them got drunk, puked, broke things; tripped over me, fell RIGHT ON TOP OF ME, all while I was snoring like a Brontosaurus. I was hoping it would have been one of the chicks that fell all over me, because I am a pervert, but it was not the case.
In the morning, the Ex was gone to work, so we didn’t have to see him. Detroit dealt with the kids while I packed up, we said our goodbyes and left. Went to the storage where there was still more stuff, and loaded that up, tied it all down like cheesy bondage porn, then gassed up and hit the road. It was about noon.
As we drive, heading towards the expressway, I said, "Do you want to stop and getting something to eat now, or what?"
Detroit had been lost in thought. Seeing her ex, seeing her son–leaving her son once more. She was quiet, and she didn’t think I saw, but I did, I did see. . .the tear in her eye.
She cries so quietly, to herself. She doesn’t want attention. She wants to be–
Hell, what does she want?
But we don’t ask. I want to, badly. I want to *know*, you know? Do I? Don’t I? Does she–
But we do communicate. We talk, we talk alot. Some have indicated that some of us talk alot, although we aren’t sure if we buy that. Regardless. . .
I have wanted to say something on occasion, but I have bit my lip and not said it. Because although I feel it at the time–and, to be fair, it’s generally right after. . .you know–I know it’s not exactly true. It’s close, though. What I have wanted to say to her is, "I love you more than anything."
I get caught up in the moment, and it’s how I feel. . .briefly. But I know I don’t love her more than anything. Don’t worry; it’s okay. She will agree. She does not love me more than anything. I am completely happy being second in her heart.
This has to do with our kids. Detroit has left behind her son in the hands of her ex. To follow her heart, of all things, for Christ’s sake. But she loves her son dearly, misses him every day, and talks to him as often as possible. Issues with phone service recently–blackmail by the ex–and they were incomunicado, which is now resolved. We are going up to see him this weekend, after Thanksgiving. This trip is all for her, but I must admit I am looking forward to it as well–just to make her happy.
Besides–well, a long holiday road trip pulling an iffy trailer that shakes like an epileptic whore on a vibrating bed, traveling just barely above the speed minimum (who knew there was such a thing?), maintaining the fine balance between being driven off the road by other angry drivers behind us and bouncing off of it completely in questionable weather and relentless traffic. . . is one of the last frontiers where a real man can experience the thrill of competing against nature and machine. It’s alot like crossing the ocean in a leaky kayak, only with less certainty. And a better stereo. And a dog that sheds.
Crap! Where was I?–Christ, if my train of thought had a caboose. . .
Oh, yeah, the kids. My own ex, The Storm, thusly laid down the law that verily I would not see my kids when I left her. Then she mandated that I did not just leave her, I left the kids as well. Her logic is. . .
I managed to sneak by and see them when she wasn’t home, and call them several times a week. I had to give The Storm time, but I didn’t want the kids to think I abandon them. With help from her older kids, I have been able to work some of this out. I was able to pick up my son from school and take him to get his driver’s permit a week ago. Just last Saturday, I got to pick up my daughter and take her to lunch and a movie.
How was it? Not exciting. We went to lunch, we chatted and played and teased. She told me everything she knows. That day was one of the best days of my life. Any day I get to see my children is. Earlier this year, I took both the kids to the zoo on Miranda’s birthday. I had been split from the wife about a month. Her birthday was on a Tuesday, so they did her party on Sunday. School hadn’t started yet, so they were off. I took off of work, and took them to the zoo, just me and them.
The best day of my life.
Thanksgiving, I get to take Miranda (don’t think Mitchell wants to go) downtown to the Thanksgiving Day parade. A couple of the grandkids want to go too, and that’s fine. It’s a big deal here in St Louis. We’ve gone every year for 15 years or more, except the year she was born, because she was only a few months old.
It’s suppose to be nicer weather, 40’s warming into 60. Still, it’s always cold downtown. You have to bundle up, brings blankets, and bring hot chocolate. Don’t forget your mittens. Schools from all over the metro area bring their marching bands, local businesses have the floats they have every year, but always some new ones. The big inflateables walked by groups of people holding onto the ropes, an unchoreographed tabula rasa. The crowds on the sidelines cheer and taunt them: "SPIN! SPIN! SPIN!" and they will all run in a circle, making their helium filled charge pirouette to the delight of everyone. A local grocery chain has a giant shopping cart, powered by a stock car engine. The thing is over twenty feet tall.
Street vendors push carts, selling cotton candy, popcorn, snap n pops, funny hats, foam reindeer antlers. Everyone is cold and happy, feeling the inner glow of the sense of community.
Father Time still walks the parade, I think. I talked to him last year, and he gave me a copy of newspaper clippings about him from his glory days, but I may have lost it. Father Time is this old guy, dressed as Uncle Sam, who is in the parade every year. He is as much a part of St Louis local culture as Beatle Bob, and much less annoying. He ran a produce stand, I don’t know if he still does. He used to drive an old school bus until the city told him it was no longer safe to drive.
About twenty years ago maybe, his wife died. After that, he needed a hobby. He painted the school bus red white and blue, painted slogans on it and carried flags. He drove the bus in the parade for many years, honking and waving to people. "Father Time says ‘God Bless America,’" the side of the bus said. He tossed candy out for the kids.
When he could no longer drive the bus in the parade, he walked. A couple of years, I saw him twice. He walked the parade route, stopping and talking to people, shaking hands, chatting and waving–twice.
He’s getting older, and I don’t think he can lap them anymore. But the chance I had for a brief chat last year made me feel like I owned a part of history.
I don’t know if Father Time will be there this year. I don’t know what the weather will really be like, but I’m hopeful the forecast is right. I don’t know how I’m going to coordinate getting down to the parade, getting the kids back, and then getting to my Dad’s and starting the cooking in time. Detroit has to work in the middle of the day. It’s like her manager said, "Let’s see, when can I have someone work that would completely ruin their Thanksgiving? Hmmmmm. . .how about. . .noon to four?"
So that is a raw deal for her, I wanted to be able to take her to the parade as well; she’s never been. But we wouldn’t be able to be back in time. And then I get to do the majority of the cooking, which is a risky proposition at best. She will show up in time for Dinner, in the evening. Me, her, Dad, and my sister. At least I won’t be ruining food for alot of people.
Maybe my dad’s girlfriend will stop by too, that would be nice. We’ll have some drinks, too, and watch football, because Dad wants to watch it, and we’ll all sweat and be uncomfortably warm, because Dad is always cold and has the heat set near 80. Thinking about the Thanksgivings past, the big gatherings, and how I may not have that ever again. If I do, it certainly won’t be with the same people. Holiday memories are pieces of dark, bittersweet chocolate.
I could carefully craft this essay, this well thought-out monologue, and pull it in to the station right here at the stop where, traditionally, it comes back around to what we’re thankful for. But maybe I’m not that good. Besides, there are none-too-subtle hints here as to what I’m thankful for, and I don’t, for once, feel like repeating myself. Either you will pick up on them or you won’t.
I am grateful for the days I get to be with my children, and thankful most of all that I realize now that those are the best days of my life.
The creature glides through the forest canopy with the stealth that time and experience has honed his instincts with. The sunlight streams through the trees, drying the upper leaves since the recent afternoon rain. Below, the predator spies his prey loping and grazing on the jungle floor. As he approaches, he drops a level, from the top of the canopy to the lower level, concealed in shadow. Taut muscle under skin slides with ease and power as the creature picks up speed, zoning in on his meal. In his hunger, his haste got the better of him, and he jumped further than he could reach, and slipped. He lost his grip. The predator tumbled the many feet to the ground, crashing into branches and brush on the way down. The prey startled, and andreline took over, and the prey took flight, running through the underbrush, jumping in long leaps, making strides and putting distance between the predator.
The predator, dazed, struggled and turned, flipped to his feet, saw his meal escaping. Enraged, he took the race, and pursued with determination. Onward, seemingly with no heed for direction, the prey fled for its life, terror in its eyes. This, this was life or death for the creature. The prey ran and jumped and bounded and continued to run, taking long strides. The predator began to close the gap. The scent filled his nostrils. The prey, the sweat, the fear–
His blood boiled with hunger. He was gaining and he knew it. The prey was slightly less aware, fearful of turning for a look. The closing gap encouraged the predator, and he knew that soon he would be upon his prey. Closer, closer. . . The predator sensed his time was right, the time was now, the terrain took a turn in his favor, and he ran up a short hill to the side of the path and leaped, roaring as he did. Claws out, fangs ready, muscles tight and ready to tear apart the sweet victim–
The victim that wasn’t there.
The predator screeched to a halt, claws dug into the ground and released, and he rolled from the momentum. He stopped, and when he did, he looked around, and sniffed. No sign of the prey, no sign of dinner anywhere. His claws dug into the loose ground, and his legs shifted, and he scurried back. He was on the edge. He thought he knew his territory, but this was something new. He was on the edge of a
~ ~ Precipice ~ ~
I was on the verge of a panic attack the other day. The body sensation, the nausea, the looming fear–these all created a gaping uncertainty within me. This is hard to write again. I lost power, and with it, all unsaved data. A metaphor for my life, I suppose. The first draft was brilliant, and now it’s gone. Dust in the wind, Dude, dust in the wind.
I talked to Detroit about it, and she seemed to sigh in relief. It had affected her as well. She didn’t want to say anything, for fear I might take it the wrong way. But since I felt it too, we both knew what we meant.We miss some of our old lives. The kids, for one. That’s a big part of it. We have communication with them, which we both treasure. But it’s not the same as being there every day. We don’t miss the spouses, and the daily grind of emotional duress they continually inflicted upon us. But we do miss our lives. The houses. The being with people you know. The family life.
So that is a big part of it, and knowing we are both going through it helps, we are our own little support group. But I have a nagging, irritating twitch in the back of my neck, which bugs me with this question, over and over: What now? What do I do now? What is the rest going to be? What’s next?
Before, in my previous life with The Storm, I had a direction and a sense of purpose. Take care of the family. Try in vain to please the wife. Take care of the house, and pay the bills. Prepare for the future. I had projects, projects, projects. Projects galore. I was going to build a deck, build a shed, finish the basement, build a sunroom, participate in lots of gay romp landscaping in the yard. My house, it was perfect. The yard, it was amazing. It’s gone.
I have no house to work on right now. I may have a seizure. All of my previous adult life, I had plans and projects and things to look forward to. I see the future now, and it’s . . .blurry. Unknown. What do I want? That’s the whole point, what do I want? I have everything I need. I have Detroit.
So what else is there for me to want, to desire, to look forward to? I have it all, what else is there? What do you give the man who has everything?
Something else to strive for.
I have an indication, a clue, and idea, the barest glimmer of what I want—or need–for my future. It’s still fuzzy, but it’s coming around. My worry, however, my concern is—
Back in the day, when I was a driver, I was hungry and lean, and drove fast. I worked at a busy store, and every time I came back from the road, there would be a rack full of pizzas. We had lots of drivers, and they would all come in, and the manager would route us out. He’d have to. And when I was a manager, I did it to the drivers as well. They’d have to. If I’m a driver, and there is a rack full of pies, I’m taking every goddamn thing I can get my hands on. The manager has to slap me down and say, "Not eight runs. Three. Take three."
Because I DO WHAT I WANT.
As I feared, that statement would come back to haunt me, and not in the way I anticipated. More irony is involved. Now that I can do what I want, I really don’t know what I want to do. But I know it’s something, so that’s something, I suppose.
I’m going through some growing pains, I suppose. Entering a new phase of my life. It’s an adjustment. And, something I said a long, long time ago is now once more relevant here:
In the course of a long and rich life, in order to experience many different things, there will be things that you must give up, that will be of the past, that will be of your life no more, so that you can go and do and be and experience new things. There is not room for everything, unless you leave some things behind.
That’s right kiddies, we are back. We just got online tonight. Kim (Detroit) will hopefully get on her blog soon, so that you all don’t think I killed her and dumped the body.
Just don’t go looking for my ex, okay?
It’s good to be back. Communication has been sparse, I know, and frustrating for all of you, my fans. I didn’t abandon you. I was unable to do much at work on the internet. All of these posts in the last few months have been written and saved to disk, and then when I could get away with it, posted, so I haven’t been able to read anyone. I will get back to all of you, I promise.
I sure did miss you guys!
Gimme some sugar–