This time last year, I was spending the last day in New Jersey with the kids. We visited some retro-arcade. The next day began a long and very difficult day of waiting, driving, and hoping the cash we had would cover the cost of gas on the very long drive home. I would have been repeating that today, had I gone up to visit the kids this week.
It was another difficult chapter of many in the time from 2013 – 2014. On the drive home, I received a call from my neighbor who had driven the kids back to their father’s house: my youngest, after giving him a hard time about going in, leading to a little “rough handling” in a struggle, had run back out of the house, following my neighbor, and had run into the highway, freaking her out. His father remained oblivious, not even realizing my son had gone out again.
I did something that probably only made the entire situation worse – from three states away, I called the local police department to go out and investigate, and the ensuing report came across sounding like I was interfering with child custody. It turned out to be much ado about nothing.
Within a few weeks, Adam and I held a garage sale at his mother’s house. We did okay, but there were still so many clothes that didn’t sell, so we brought them back. I decided to try to sell them to a local consignment shop before donating them.
Adam had a migraine that day. We had stopped by the store, who said to come back a half hour before they closed, to give them time to determine which (if any) items they would take. We still had a pile of clothes in the back of Adam’s Mountaineer.
At some point, Adam told me to just drive his truck, so I could take all of the clothes and drop them in a donation bin. He had fallen asleep by the time I left, and I did take his truck. I had driven it before on several occasions, like the time he was admitted to the hospital and I drove him to and from. But I hadn’t driven it alone very often.
I returned to the store, tired. It was a stressful time. The consignment shop kept me waiting over half an hour, just to find out that no, they weren’t buying ANY of the clothes. Annoyed, I put them all in the trunk, got into the car, and dialed my mother. I was using the Blu Tooth. My mother wasn’t there. I left a message. I looked down for a split second to disconnect the phone, and when I looked up again, I slammed on the brakes, too late, and crashed into the back of a green jeep. In that split second, though a shady mechanic would deny it, I had totaled Adam’s truck, while barely denting the jeep. Adam only had liability…
I hit rock bottom that month. The divorce finally went through – the highlight of my year, but with something to celebrate (finally) came an even more difficult challenge – my landlord decided to evict us on two weeks’ notice because I had allowed Adam to stay in the apartment. Back story: when I was on night shift, Adam stayed there to watch the kids overnight. My landlady had said it was okay, but apparently, it was not. She also included my friend, Rose, in the notice, because Rose was spending a few days there at the time. Both Adam and Rose had other “homes.”
I didn’t fight the eviction. All the fight was out of me. And truthfully, the place didn’t feel like “home” anymore. So, in the first weeks of school, in a weekend, I had to pack and move the contents of our four bedroom apartment to the new house that we rented. The house with imperfections that have still not been fixed, but it’s a place to live, and it’s in the school zone we wanted, and we’re staying here for at least another year…
Adam signed the new lease with me, so there would be no more issues. I had to leave many things behind when I moved, because there simply wasn’t time. I’m still missing my favorite pair of pants, for example. I threw away so many things, and still, when I turned over the key to that apartment, it wasn’t empty or clean. At four in the morning, after moving things in the middle of a storm, I simply couldn’t care anymore.
My credit is completely shot. I never have money left over at the end of the month. We had to replace Adam’s truck with a new vehicle – a Kia Soul – and the payments with the loan shark must be paid weekly, with an exorbitant interest rate. I settled for no “maintenance” and slightly lower child support payments (but they go on longer than they otherwise might have) than the state of Florida formula allowed. Some months, my bank account has dipped into the red with the automatic payments I had. But somehow, we keep going.
And with the divorce came some peace. I have started over. I am learning a new trade. My kids have had to learn to be very independent, and this year, I had no worries when I sent them up to New York. They are still kids, but they are capable of taking care of themselves even if their father works long hours. They are older and wiser, too. And while they call me and text me, and I’m sure they miss me on some level, they are no longer tied to the umbilical cord.
But I do miss them, and I am sorry I was not able to visit them. As my vacation week comes to a close with nothing to show but a little extra money coming in from Uber next week, and a web authoring project that I couldn’t quite accomplish even with about 30-40 hours of effort, I have to remind myself that this, too, shall pass. Climbing a mountain takes thousands of steps, and none of them are easy, and sometimes all you can do is remind yourself to breathe and keep going.