Life update: Late January to end of March

Preamble

When I was in 10th grade, I used to constantly read my Quality Paperback Club’s edition of some giant book of quotations. One of my favorite quotes was “Live with yourself: get to know how poorly furnished you are” of which Google now tells me some satirist named Persius said or wrote somewhere old and boring. Turns out, when you separate after ten years and move into a small one bedroom, you quickly get to know how poorly furnished both you and your apartment are.

Items inside myself needing fixing (the usual suspects of self-improvement

  • Weight. Always with the weight.
  • Managing anxiety. Always with the anxiety.
  • Working through the grief of something lost.
  • Getting back to a training schedule where I can successfully run another 10k this summer.
  • Adjusting to life without an InSinkErator.

Actual physical items

  • In need of a couch and a kitchen table, tv, rugs, curtains…

Me living alone: the first few months

me

Actually, it’s not really alone when you live with your self-pity.

Unfortunately or not, I thrive in a naturally lonely environment. I had to stop working from home or “The Day I Don’t Talk to Humans or See Sunlight” because I felt disoriented and strange by nightfall. And I wasn’t actually alone. I had my “Friends” on Netflix to keep me company during the hours of “sad” to “what’s going to happen to my life?” to “everything is fine!” to “why is my apartment so eerily quiet”?

For those of you wondering: living alone after being married for 10 years is a little like this:

January

This little nugget. Here we are hanging out at my favorite bar. I mean Target. I mean the place I go to for human companionship, but don’t actually know anybody. One time a little girl was lost and I helped her find her mommy, so I guess Target is a place where I am a hero. I spent a lot of time at Target getting the new place decorated in a style I’d call “I bought most of my stuff at Target.”

The sweetest baby always makes the sweetest art.

For a palate cleanser, we go to Fairyland.

Moving in

Moving into my own place was typically both very wonderful and a little sad. I think I like being sad (it’s a nice, familiar feeling, like wearing comfortable sneakers), which I think I can say honestly because enough time has passed since living it and writing about it and constantly talking about it to people who listened politely and then with a guy I had to pay to listen to me talk about it.

Zoe enjoying the abundant closet space.

Zoe enjoying the new cafe near our house.

Zoe enjoying the lack of furniture.

Although I searched online for couches and tables, we ended the month with the same low level of furniture we started out with.


However, after weeks of searching for “mid-century modern” couches and then 1. not wanting to spend above $1,000 for a couch 2. knowing that Zoe would eventually throw up on it, I bought a couch from Macy’s and then waited two weeks for it to be delivered. Oh, but the day it arrived…things would never be the same again. Want to instantly make your life 32x better? Live without a couch and then get a couch.

Zoe painting at her chum’s party

New location, new park.

And then Zoe was sick for two weeks.

Not to brag, but I’m pretty handy, as installing this clever coffee shelf shows.

(Baby) Theo turned one!

I like these mugs at Scott’s house.

Zoe’s pal Dresden had a birthday. There was quality pizza.

Zoe talked about going to this party constantly for weeks. When we got there, she played 500 feet away from everybody, gathering flowers. God, I love her. She is my everything.

We bought a Frisbee because it seemed like it would be fun to throw around. And it was. For two minutes, before Zoe didn’t want to do that anymore.

Zoe was more interested in a few pieces of wood that looked like a pencil and paper.

I started getting a little more serious about trying to get into shape.

Interim break to check in on my mental wellness

Ross…you seem to only hang out with Zoe. Is everything ok? Are you getting back out there? Meeting new people?

March

Days before her 5th birthday, this little friend of mine picked a flower for a brunch gathering.

Zoe’s 5th birthday

Zoe freshly delivered.

Zoe celebrating in one of her happy places (Color Me Mine).

We are lucky to live near a fine burrito place.

Later, walking around Crab Cove with Grandma.

An unexpected trip from Nathan and family before they officially relocate all their stuff to New Zealand. They also passed down their TV and rug and many other items. It was extremely kind of them.

Imagine if a bunch of dudes that have been friends for 20+ years eventually had kids, but not with each other:

And we had pizza.

Conclusion

So, a few months into living alone, I would rate my current mindset between “processing and adjusting” and “moving forward” but always: “Will the gentleman be dining on the sofa alone again this evening?” Since it is now the end of May, I’m feeling pretty good about things in a guardedly optimistic way. Also, I finished Friends in January, which now seems so long ago, and moved on to The Good Wife, but that will have to wait for another update.

Because this post started around my 42nd birthday, here is a bonus look back at past birthdays:

(31, 39)

Zoe’s Pre-k Graduation

I have just returned home from Zoe’s pre-school graduation, which was held on a beautiful May evening*. The ceremony was, in keeping with everything at Fuzzy Caterpillar, adorable and sweet. Zoe’s two years at Fuzzy C were near perfect: she was always very well looked after and learned about all the right stuff (“recycling is good for the planet”, “don’t talk during book time”, “Obama is president”). And the art. So much wonderful art.**

Thank you teachers!

First day

First day: July 15, 2013

And two years later:

Graduation Graduation

Hugging teacher Tali
Hugging teacher Tali.

Spreading her wings
The caterpillar now is a butterfly with wings ready to fly.

Caps off!
Caps off!

Wings spread
“How does one become a butterfly?”
“You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” -Trina Paulus​​

Zoe and Papa
Zoe with the author.

Zoe and butterfly

Sushi
And then we ate the victory sushi of graduate winners. (Quick tip: the kids tofu teriyaki bento box dinner at Katsu Sushi House will and did feed three.)

_____________________________________
*I brought tissues as it was advised to do, but only cried internally which is more painful. I did cry in the comfort of my home earlier. Actually, what I did was more like weeping. Parenting is obviously a cruel and wonderful mix of wanting your child to stay sweet and attached to you but have them grow up and become their own person but still say they love you so much.

**I would thus give the coveted Rosstralia Endorsement to Fuzzy Caterpillar Preschool, and recommended it to anyone seeking a pre-school.

Waxahatchee: Ivy Tripp

Cerulean Salt was pretty good, Ivy Tripp is great.

Here they knock out Poison

And “Breathless” all solo acoustic style.

Sad endings: The Divorce

And I never, ever, ever wanted to write this song
I always thought things would change somehow
And we would start getting along but it’s hopeless
-of Montreal, “No Conclusion” (2007)

This post sat unpublished for a few months (and saw the deletion of a Paul Simon quote), but you may as well know: After +/-10 fun and loving years and then some less amazing and less wonderful times, Nicole and I have decided to divorce. I think we can still be good friends. We both love Zoe very much. I know we’ll both be happy again once the dust settles.

This decision has been in the works for a long time, but I wasn’t prepared for how sad it made me feel once the reality set in. On some days, this unknown path seems manageable. On some other days, and even at some unexpected moments within good days, it feels like I’m surfing on sadness beach and the waves are rough and keep pummeling me. Divorce, even when done civilly, has an easy way of making you feel like a balloon that has had all its air replaced by melancholy.

Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to not let passion and love get replaced by the blandness of routine. Strive to never take each other for granted. Be kind even when it isn’t easy. Don’t hold on to anger. Be aware of how good things are while you’re in the moment. Don’t worry so much.

Being an adult is really something. John Mulaney has spoken eloquently on the experience: “…and by the way, part of me was like ‘whatever’, you know? You know those days when you’re like ‘this might as well happen.’ Adult life is already so goddamn weird.”

2015 is going to be an interesting year.

If you see me around, encourage me to keep working on my 10k training.