My wife and I went out briefly this evening to bring home some fast food (veggie burgers for me, tacos for her) and hit up the Starbucks drive-through. I told her how good it was to get out of the house for a bit. Being newly unemployed and waiting to hear about several job prospects, I mostly stay home, sleeping by day, reading and writing by night. By “home” I mean my mother-in-law’s home, which, at least for now, is also our home.
“It doesn’t seem real,” my wife remarked. No, my dear, it doesn’t. I wish I knew what the future holds for us, but I don’t. Perhaps that is one good thing about being in limbo: It forces one to live in the now.
Late this afternoon, my niece dropped by with her little one. My niece is in her first year of community college and is grappling with all the right things, like algebraic equations and how to write a cohesive essay. She came over to ask for help with a writing assignment for her psychology class. Now, she can write just fine, but she was having a little trouble getting started. Ah, the tyranny of the blank page. If you only knew, dear niece.
I read over the article she was to discuss, which concerned the effects on the brain and nervous system of alcohol and various types of recreational drugs. I encouraged her to introduce the subject in the first sentence, then list the points she would make.
Say it in your own words, I encouraged her. Use your personal experience. Discuss what drinking did to some of your high school classmates; mention the drugs they talked about using. Tell why you chose not to use those drugs. Say something about raising a daughter and being a good influence on her. Remember, you are the expert on you.
And then I left her at the computer to write. She had only a little more than an hour before the assignment was due. Nothing like waiting until the last minute! I shook my head, fully aware that she is just like her uncle was back in college.
I hope that the writing advice I gave her turns out to be helpful. I have no idea what academic expectations are these days, so the only advice I can give is to be organized and tell your life story, just as I do night after night in this forum.
After I left my niece to work away at her assignment, I returned to the living room to visit with her daughter, who recently celebrated her first birthday. She was enjoying toddling back and forth between her grandmother, great-grandmother and aunt, basking in all the loving attention. She still doesn’t know me very well, but I am hoping to change that. I held her on the day she was born, but after that was able to make long distance visits only every few months. Now that we are here, I know things will be different.
When I was able to get her attention, I enjoyed a wonderful few minutes playing on the couch with my little grandniece. She appreciates hugs and kisses from any source. But what really interested her was tugging my eyeglasses off my face and playing with my headphones. After she successfully pulled them out of the jack on my computer, tried to grab my cell phone and nearly toppled my laptop off its tray table, I finally capitulated and allowed her to play with my specs. Things went swimmingly until she leaned a little too far over and did a back flip off the couch onto the carpet. It seems I still have a thing or two to learn about the care and safety of babies. (The startled look on her face was priceless.)
As I never had children of my own, this whole thing is an entirely new experience for me. Being with family every day is so different from spending more than a dozen years as a lonesome twosome couple living many hundreds of miles away from those who are dearest to us. It still feels like we’re just visiting for Christmas.
I have worried about how we will adjust to the lack of privacy, to the single bathroom, to having extended family about every single day. Not to mention the uncertainty of not knowing whether we will have to move again, whether my next job will require a lengthy commute, whether I will be able to work remotely, or whether we will have to make it through an extended period of unemployment.
But then I was making buzzing noises and pretending that my finger was a fly landing on my little grandniece’s nose, much to her delight. And then my niece finished her psych assignment and thanked me for getting her started.
That’s when I knew that none of that other stuff matters.