[Sick of politics and our crappy economy? Me, too. Let's take a break and talk about cool stuff.]
What a year. Divorced. Married. Going from middle-aged and childless to new stepdad in less than six months. And the new union – new family – has been absolute joy. But it hasn’t all been easy.
I got the condo known as Rancho Winter in the divorce. Not a problem. Diane found this sweet little cottage five minutes from her job. So we all win. Right?
I’m typing this in a new office I refer to as The Dungeon. No, I didn’t move my office downstairs to accomodate my new family. What? Are you kidding? That’s where the Wii and the DVD player went. Where are your priorities?
No, I’m in The Dungeon because Rancho Winter is no more. When we married, Nita and I thought the condo would be the perfect home for us. Near shopping and the I-275 loop where the high school had a technical program for AJ, all we were the big kitchen, big deck, and all that room. But…
I’d grown used to the long commute. Sure, I had to go through another state to get to downtown Cincinnati, but hey, it was fast. Wasn’t it? Nita’s commute was 40 minutes by back road. One way. We said nothing to each other. But then we noticed something I hadn’t paid attention to before.
Eastgate has more cigarette butts on the ground than a Marlboro factory at full tilt. Yep, the locals don’t seem to care about such things. I didn’t notice before because I spent almost all my time upstairs in the office or away from Rancho Winter. Now?
Then came the first day of school. AJ was miserable. Very miserable. He’d handled all sorts of family-related problems before with little more than a shrug, taking out his frustrations in World of Warcraft. He came home from school miserable and sick.
I could list my problems with the local school system here. Being a new parent, I was ready to make sure the principal would have a very bad day everyday until AJ, never mind me, was made happy. It’s pretty bad when the school is so logistically challenged that even the lockers aren’t assigned until a kid’s parent calls to complain.
We hated the school, the commute, the neighborhood… And we hated having two house payments. Since my house has only two years of wear and tear vs. 14 years for Nita’s, selling Nita’s place – especially now – would be a very, very bad idea.
And we both love Deer Park. I first got to know this quaint little town just north of the city when I arrived in Cincinnati back in 1991. It was close enough to my first apartment here that I did a lot of business there. Nita and her ex bought her house back around the time the Foo Fighters became Dave Grohl’s full-time job. The neighbors are friendly. The town is quiet. The cigarette butts on the ground are almost non-existent. And yes, there are quite a few smokers here. The commute is shorter, and the school system…
They missed AJ.
Three days into the school year, Nita asked me, “Can we please move back to Deer Park?”
I hemmed. I hawed. That was a HUGE change in plans, particularly after all the grief I took getting the condo refinanced. (Note to those getting an amicable divorce: Even if you and your ex are staying friends, the bank will supply all the drama you can handle.) But it didn’t take long for me to see the benefits.
Shorter commute? Nicer neighborhood? Better school for AJ?
Hell, I just wanted to make my family happy.
We may have become a family in less time than most couples take to start leaving clothes at each other’s place, but we are a family. I love them very much.
And I love living in our small (and now remodeled) house in this quaint little town I’ve known about for 17 years.
Sometimes, the big changes are the most worthwhile of all.