Family outings were always problematic when Steve was here. He didn’t enjoy “family friendly” activities like trips to the Wild Animal Park or Sea World or kid movies or pretty much anything that Luke and Elizabeth wanted to do for their birthdays. He wouldn’t stay home, mind you. No, he’d come along, making it very clear that here he was doing his fatherly duty and we’d all better be appreciating it.
Talk about sucking all the fun out of a day.
A few weeks ago the kids and I realized that summer vacation is just around the corner, and we are totally free to spend it any old way we want. So we immediately sat down and started making a list of all the places we want to go, all the movies we want to see, all the things we want to do. We started calling it The Summer Of Adventure, and in short order we’d put together a pretty exciting summer agenda.
Last week I called an old friend that I used to hang out with before I had kids. Julie was sorry to hear about the separation, but very happy at the idea of getting together and doing stuff again. She invited me to a barbecue she was going to this weekend, and we made plans to go see Indiana Jones next Friday.
Yesterday the kids and I kicked off the fun early by going to see Prince Caspian right after school. I was pleasantly surprised by how good that was. It was no “Return Of The King” (although I got the feeling that it really wanted to be), but it was a much stronger movie than TLTW&TW. I really enjoyed it.
Today we went to the barbecue, and that was more fun than I even have words for. I had a blast, the kids had a blast, and even though I didn’t know hardly anyone there they all totally made me feel like part of their big happy family. It was exactly what I needed. At one point Julie’s teenage daughter smiled and told me that she liked my laugh. It made me realize how long it’s been since I’ve laughed like that…big, joyful belly laughs. It felt good.
Right now Julie is dating another old mutual friend of ours, Josh, so it was like getting two friends back for the price of one! At one point I jokingly mentioned that I thought a guy at the party was cute, and asked if they knew anything about him. They didn’t. “But I’ll see what I can find out,” Josh assured me. I laughed at that, but true to his word Josh brought me little snippets of information all afternoon. “His name’s Jacob…everyone seems to like him…he’s an electrician, steady work…he just got out of an eight-year relationship two or three months ago…really down-to-earth guy…” It was a fun game, but to be honest I was a little relieved to learn that Mr. Wonderful lives way the heck down in Escondido, about two hours away. I’ll probably never see him again.
It’s just as well. The truth is, I’m still trying to figure out how to stop missing Steve. I know for a fact that separating was the right thing to do, but the heart wants what it wants, and mine still wants him. I kept wishing he was there with me at the barbecue. Loving someone who’s all wrong for you just really sucks beyond words.
But that’s an old familiar ache by now, and I didn’t let it spoil my fun. AND, Julie and Josh got to talking about a trip to Laughlin they have planned for this summer, and they asked me to come along! They’re taking their boat and spending three days there on the river in June. It’s a no-kids trip, but Steve had already said he’d be happy to keep Luke and Elizabeth with him for the occasional weekend this summer, so that’s no problem. LAUGHLIN, baby!!
I feel a bit like a phoenix, rising from the ashes and starting over with a shiny new life.
I just wish I could figure out how to make letting go of the old life hurt a little less.