Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Brain Part 2: The Ex Files

Ok, so where was I? Oh yeah, the house is walking distance to their dad's house. This post perfectly captures the bitterness that happened at the end of our marriage. I have read it many times over the years since I posted it and it never fails to make my stomach churn. We had so.much.animosity. When I left I wanted to get far away from him and our life together. I wanted to do things the way I wanted without him judging or criticizing me--at least to my face.

I found a cute little duplex and I just kind of lived with my little guys alone. Which was amazing. But also hard and lonely. I met C sooner than I figured I'd want to meet ANYONE. When we fell in love and decided we couldn't stand to be away from each other and he moved in my single mama bachelorette pad got really cramped really fast. Sooo--I found our suburban oasis. It was everything my home with S was not. Brand new, open, airy, spacious. It was the type of place he'd never agree to live and the type of place I longed to live during my darkest married moments. We moved in and I loved it.

I loved taking loooong baths in my giant bath tub. (I even spent my first few laboring hours with Baby G in that tub) I loved flipping through my clothes in my big walk-in closet. I loved baking in my--ok, you got it-- BIG kitchen. We had nowhere near enough stuff to fill a house so we had to do lots of Ikea shopping trips--not exactly a hardship for us. C is my soulmate, my best friend and so much like me sometimes it's scary. He is my bearded twin. So it was fun for us to feather our nest when we could. We have very similar tastes and it was easy to agree on where things should go, how they should look, etc. Once our house was filled it felt great for a while. The boys were happy and flourishing at a great school, we had just enough (7 miles) distance from S to feel comfortable and things were good.

I sometimes would sneak off to our neighborhood pool in the middle of the day when I finished up work for the afternoon. I'd ride my bike there and sit in the shade with a book and swim and read until I had to pick the boys up. It felt yummy and decadent, my two favorite feelings.

A view of the pool at the Olympic Heights community center.

We live right across the street from a dog park/walking path with a big pond in the middle. I love walking there--sadly this past summer, when I was pregnant was the hottest most miserable summer ever and I didn't go there ever. Now my time to hang out there is very limited. 

So anyway, it was tempting to buy this house when it was offered to us. I loved it, the boys seemed happy, C--well. C never quite loved the house as much as I did. He enjoyed building a home with me and creating our family structure within a safe space that was big enough for all of us. He loved that the boys got to have their own, well their own floor really. A bedroom, bathroom and art room all for just them. G's bedroom is up there but since we co-sleep, they have hung out in it much than he has, or ever will. 

But--it wasn't perfect for us. The layout is a bit wonky, the kids' rooms are upstairs which has it's advantages but it's not realistic to have a new baby upstairs, or a just-walking toddler either. There is also carpet throughout which is kind of gross with kids, or really in general. There are no trees. The development is too new to have great trees, especially at our house. The back yard is not super great for entertaining, something we really want to do more of. And the commute for C is terrible. Grueling and frustrating every single day. He burns so much gas traveling to and from work each day. 

Once we decided for sure not to buy the house, it suddenly didn't feel so much like home to me anymore. One day (when S's wife was here to get the boys, actually) all three of our pictures fell off the wall next to the stairs. A floral fabric panel fell first, hitting a giant heavy Buddha print which in turn hit an identical floral panel which fell down, leaving the Buddha to tumble past it and into the wall at the foot of the stairs. Our stuff was starting to move itself out!!! 

So when the choice became leave now or leave in one year, it seemed kind of attractive to just get the move over with before the boys were even more attached to their school LeeLee came home last week with an assignment: to tell how he was special. He hemmed and hawed, having a hard time with it. This killed me because there is SO MUCH to love about this kid. I told him what *I* love about him and he finally came up with three things:

1. I am special because I have two brothers and one is my twin.
2. I am special because I live in a 2 story home.
3. I am special because I am good at art.

What, back up. What does number two say??!! Did I teach him that? Is my ego tied up in living in a "nice" house? Well, kind of, yes. I guess so. Part of why I was hesitant to move back into my old neighborhood is because I was afraid I'd be shy to invite friends over to a smaller, older house. Which is stupid because it's a cute house and it will be filled with all of our normal stuff that we like and chose for ourselves. It will be smaller but cozy and the boys won't be in the far reaches of the house destroying something. There are many advantages to living there from location to price to size. But that brings me back to the tense feeling I get when I think of being so close to my old house.

I have thought and thought about it and the thing is: I have some unresolved feelings towards that house. Look at hundreds and hundreds of blog posts from 2007-2009--they were all written from that house!  I found the house on Craigslist for us to live in in 2004 when we were moving to Austin from Berkeley. We moved in sight unseen in the middle of the night. I formed a friendship with the owner, Zaida and asked if we could buy the house. When S and I bought it in 2007 I had such high hopes for it. It was small, but I had all these big ideas about how cute we could make it together. But the thing was, we couldn't agree on anything together ever so the house got less and less cute the more stuff he brought home that went against my taste and sensibilities. Finally that house represented everything that I was unhappy with. I gladly signed it over to him and didn't look back. 

Now that I am going to live within walking distance I have to face the fact that I did love living there sometimes. We were deeply unhappy in our marriage there which made it a very toxic environment but that is where my boys came home to from the hospital after they were born. They learned to walk and talk and dance there. They co-slept and nursed with me there for close to 4 years. I cooked and crafted and blogged and lived there. I took walks all over the neighborhood: with the boys in our giant stroller that Jimmie Vaughan suggested we buy. With S, by myself. I rode my bike and took pictures and picked flowers and raised chickens. 

When I left I never in a million years figured I'd miss it. At all. And over the years when I've had to go there to get the boys I felt uncomfortable and ready to run out and zoom back to my own place. My duplex, then my suburban home. Now that S is remarried (never thought I'd be typing THAT sentence!) there is an added sense of awkwardness there. There is a woman in "my" house. Cooking meals, helping bathe my kids, raising another generation of chickens. Living in the bedroom that I lived in. Where I talked to my boys in my tummy and teared up when I tried to imagine who they would be. I had no problem giving him our house but I never thought in a million years he'd be sharing it--and our boys-- with someone else. 

I like Miss C. We have a lot in common and she is genuinely a sweet and loving person. But it's been hard adjusting. I never imagined, when I gave birth to the boys, that this is how our lives would go. And after S and I divorced we went from co-parenting with two people to three and now four. We even got re- married almost exactly a year apart. Our respective anniversaries are now just a few days apart.

 In a lot of ways it is ok and once we all become more comfortable we could have a great partnership, but the *but* to that, is if everyone is willing. I imagine, like my evolving relationship with S, this new phase of our lives will take time to feel right. I am processing the shit out of it in my head and have been reading a book (more on that later) so that makes me a bit of an eager beaver (more on that later) in terms of trying to make sure we are all comfortable and on the same page. I know that can often have the unintended result of making everyone uncomfortable so I'm trying to rein it in. 

I have come full circle. And it's great and scary and stressful. We have approximately 3 weeks to get everything together, then after that I get to drive the boys to and from school every day til the end of the school year. Just thinking about it makes me want to dry heave. But, I have a good feeling about everything. I have no idea how S and Miss C feels about our move, but I'm hoping it all works out well. I'll talk more about the book I'm reading and the journey of openness and acceptance that I find myself on later. 

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