Monday, June 14, 2010

Musing on an empty nest

This started out yesterday as a note on my Facebook page.

Those of you that read it there and don't think that I'm just a self indulgent narcissist can scroll down to find out whatever insight I add here.

"This was the first weekend that Sarah worked both days and I didn't have anything planned. I spent, as some of you saw on here, a part of both days working on my laptop at the Starbucks down in Laguna Beach. While I love being in a beach town, and at Starbucks to boot, I realized this afternoon that I'm already starting to feel the empty nest syndrome. I had a conversation with a friend this afternoon that only made it worse.

For the last 18 years, I have been "Dad". That has been my job, my role, my identity, my life, and I didn't even really realize how completely I identify as "Dad" until now.

Sarah is 18, driving, and employed. She has more friends at this particular time than she's had in quite awhile. She has a boyfriend. She has a life that doesn't revolve around me. Don't get me wrong, that's ok...that's the way it's supposed to be...but for me, it's weird.

I realize that most of my friends are married. The few single guys I know are twenty-somethings that I have nothing, or at best very little, in common with.

I'm going to be 50 next year. I'm getting very close to retirement, having been at my job for 30 years.

I don't have any idea what the future holds.

I'm alone, and I don't know how to do that."

I'll start with the last first. "I'm alone, and I don't know how to do that."

I realize while pondering this that I've never been alone, at least not for more than a couple weeks while Sarah was at camp or some such thing.

I lived at home until I moved out to shack up with the first love of my life. After that dream disintegrated, I moved back home where I lived until I got married to the second love of my life. Man, was I wrong about that. When we divorced, less that five years later, I moved in with the third love of my life, along with my then two year old daughter.

Skip ahead two more years, another relationship run aground, and I moved out with my four year old to live "on my own" for the first time in my age 35. That transition is the stuff of a whole 'nother post. Suffice it to say that I was ill prepared to be a single dad in this great big world. But we survived.

And since that day, it has been Sarah and I. We have a strange and unique relationship that doesn't evade the notice of most people that know us. Again, that's the stuff of another post. But the point is, I've been "Dad" for 18 years. I was "boyfriend" a couple of times during that time for short periods, but I haven't even been "boyfriend" for...what?...7 years now? It's been so long, I don't remember. I see why so many marriages disintegrate after the kids move out. When you identify as one thing for so long, it's intimidating to face the unknown future. Ah, another post.

The stuff of this post is: I've NEVER lived alone. I don't know how to do alone. I don't know what to do alone. I don't know how to act when there is not someone else's opinion to take into account, someone to care about and for, someone to take care of. I'm...apprehensive? nervous? intimidated? scared?

Thanks to Alicia and Gabrielle for the kind words that encouraged me to explore these thoughts in a little deeper detail.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Quote of the day

"There is something comforting about large Anguillian women. At home [in the U.S.] a woman of this size would be considered overweight. Not in Anguilla. Generous weight is a sign of contentedness, happiness, even success; a thin person on the other hand, probably works too hard, worries too much, and doesn't eat enough"
-from A Trip to the Beach by Melinda and Robert Blanchard.