Lest I Forget
Today is Saturday, and like most Saturdays we have nothing planned. We don’t have a lot of money right now; our options are limited.
Honestly? It gets a little boring. A lot boring.
But in this case, I need to zip it. Compared to our old life, this is heavenly. We used to pray for boring lives. My husband and I moved-no, escaped-to the Midwest from the East Coast last Christmas. For those of you who aren’t familiar, here’s the thing about the east coast, specifically New Jersey and New York: If you have lots of money, you can live somewhat happily. If you’re like the rest of us, you will lose your mind.
Simply put, there are just way too many freakin’ people. Coexisting out there is a lot like having cabin fever-with no cabin. Add to the impossibly high cost of living and it’s easy to see why the middle finger is flashed so frequently. I’ve done it.
I suppose if M had held a normal job, things could have been better. However, he was an owner-operator and worked a staggering (on average) 80 hours per week. In addition to long hours on the road, he would sit at the piers for hours on end. The union guys would lounge around, smoking cigarettes and sipping their coffee, letting the clock tick by. Why? They wanted overtime. Or as one delightful worker told my husband, “What, you want us to work so you can make money?”
So M would sit, and sit, and sit, waiting for his truck to be loaded. And after sitting there for 3-6 hours, he would head home only to get stuck in a traffic jam, or get a flat tire, or the mafia had burned a building down and closed the GW Bridge, or whatever. It never failed—it was always something.
So we prayed. God knows how much we pleaded with Him to give us a break. While M was breaking his back for 15 hours a day I would be alone. But he is an amazing man—he would come home covered in diesel and sweat, having been cussed at all day by angry people who thought he was just an ignorant truck driver (he actually has two business degrees). Exhausted, he’d roll up his sleeves and spend time with his boys and give me a break. He’s a real man, all the way.
But we were fading. We never had time together; our life zapped everything from us. To make matters worse, my second pregnancy was high-risk. Due to a genetic trait from my Sicilian side, I had almost no hemoglobin. I was beyond weak. Alone for 10-14 hours a day with a three year old, my OB wanted me to ‘rest as much as possible’. Riiiight.
One day, in my 9th month, I was so weak that I had to crawl on hands and knees to get G his lunch. Our friends, who had helped us so much already, were all busy and I was on my own until M came home, not for another 5 or 6 hours. So tearfully, with what energy I had left, I prayed, “Ok God, I’m ready. Get us out of here.”
I heard nothing.
When C was a week old, M had to go back to work. I was alone with both boys, still horribly in pain from a c-section, unable to do anything but sit and cry. I couldn’t bend down. I couldn’t lift anything. I could barely walk. And I was alone with a newborn and a 3 year old. (My mom came two days later, thankfully.) I cried for change to come. Still I heard nothing.
A few months later, with a 2 month old who wanted no one but me, and a 3 year old who wanted no 2 month old, I laid in bed sobbing. The baby had been up all night with colic, and G refused to go to bed. I was on about 60 minutes of sleep from the night before, and M had just left for work. It was 3 AM.
I prayed again, “Ok God, do something. I’m ready for anything."
This time I heard, “Are you sure?”
1 month later, our condo sold. Sold in a market that was virtually nonexistent, with our neighbors’ condo on the market for 30 grand less than ours. Sold in a county with the third highest property tax rate in the United States. The sale defied all logic. Even our realtor was surprised. Some said it was our gourmet kitchen with the granite and stainless steel, the location, the closets…nah. I knew the real reason. It was a divine sale.
And six months later, I sit here complaining. All I ever wanted while in NJ was a night out with my wonderful husband, whom I find so handsome and whose laugh tickles me. All I ever wanted was a mid-week pizza night with my family, and breakfast together once in awhile. Now that we’re here, we do that all of the time! Do we have any money? No, not much. Our kids are uninsured and some days we don’t know how the bills will get paid. But we are together, we’re happy, and we have what we never had back east: Time. So much of it in fact, I feel as if we’re swimming in it. But sometimes, instead of great big splashes and kicks, I tread lightly, afraid it’ll disappear.
And it might. But for now, we’ll rest and enjoy each other. And I’m beginning to see that the ordinary makes it all so extraordinary. We work to live, we don’t live to work. And we made it through the fire. So the next time I grind my teeth and hem and haw about another night in, I’ll read this. And I’ll smile.
Life is good.