We Are On Our Way There (1)

(Continues from “Three Days”)

After the first frost, Jo spreads straw over the strawberry bed and I clear collapsed morning glory vines from the front of our house. I eat the last three blackberries while circling our garlic beds, already safe under straw. Jo starts up the woodstove for the first time this season and I make a sweet tomato sauce with garlic and onions, cumin and curry, cayenne, cinnamon, and the last of our harvest. Stirring the red pot, I glance out the window. Bright leaves dance their last stunning, spiraling dance to the ground. It has been six months.

Six months since that last night, that Friday in late April. I’d spent three days in a functional trance while inwardly trying to let go of Olivia’s goals around which our lives had been molded for the past two years. Season after season of working so hard to support her… Yet, during those three days, on the most basic level, I tried to begin releasing my dream of family. Year after year, the dream was the thing I’d chosen above all else, especially a career.  

That Friday afternoon, I’d already given Olivia a ride after school to her job, met with our family therapist at a café for a final session after six months of intensive individual and family sessions for a total of four and a half or more hours per week. I then picked Liv up and drove her home. Our text volleys, always riddled with my heads-up that I’m on the way, then waiting in the parking lot, begging her to appear, and wondering where she is after I abandoned my work load and deadlines to be there for her, were no different on that day. But when she sauntered toward me, I could only be relieved.

As she sauntered away on this particular evening, I’d reminded her that she’d agreed to respect house rules while she chose to continue living with us, and I’d even extended her curfew, hoping to extend it even more the next night. I watched her walk away—hugging the far side of our road which follows a lovely, swampy section of the river where it’s common to see blue heron balance on a rock or branch. But Liv looked straight ahead as she walked. I turned back to my desk, hoping she’d keep her agreement. The stakes were high—for us as a family—and she knew it.

But now that she’d decided to move out and drop out, perhaps she’d feel free enough to keep her word?

Where was I in my work? I inhaled deeply and woke up my computer screen. Where was I?

*     *     *

Jo and I rarely made plans for dinner with friends anymore—even on the weekend—because we never knew what teenage drama might interfere and cause us to have to cancel at the last minute. On that Friday night, we’d decided to stay home, make dinner, and watch a movie. It was delicious just to be together on the couch, with Jo’s massive iMac on the coffee table, and a glass of red wine. We’d entirely forgotten about our lives when I heard my cell phone chirp at 9:11 p.m. There were four texts from Liv.

Hey, we heard about this little show called show down, would you mind if I went? I have money and everything

Its actually called shake down

Its 20 dollars

?

We paused the film. I read her texts out loud. We looked at each other.

“Jo, I don’t want to respond. I don’t want to be texting for the next hour. We need a break—just a little downtime after this particular week in hell.” My voice was still calm and grounded.  

“I know. I know,” she said looking me right in the eyes.

“Isn’t it enough that we’re accepting her decision to move out and drop out of high school? Couldn’t we have one night? Just one—without having to renegotiate her plans at the last minute with little to no info and all by text because she won’t pick up her cell phone which we’re paying for?” I could hear my voice rising quickly.

Cause we are on our way there :)

“Shit. Oh shit. Okay, here I go,” I said to Jo, putting my feet back up on the coffee table.

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