The nice thing about having earnest, Christian contractors come do work for you the week before Christmas is that they will cut you an unbelievable deal on the work, saving you many many dollars. The sucky thing about having earnest, Christian contractors come do work for you the week before Christmas is that they will behold your strong, capable fiancÃ© doing other home repairs and immediately assume that if they fall behind schedule, NO PROBLEM, because surely your Godly Nearly-Spouse Man will take care of any finish work they neglect to do.
I could tell you how many tubes of caulking we’ve gone through in the last two weeks, but then I’d have to kill you. Assuming, of course, that I could extract myself from the weeping fetal position I’m currently holding in order to get close enough to hurt you. The odds are in your favor.
And so here we are; overall, we’ve gotten a tremendous amount done around the house on this trip. There are several uncompleted items, yet, which I will either muddle through on my own or hire someone to do or just decide don’t actually need to be done, because, feh, who really wants wires INSIDE the walls, anyway? Let’s not get crazy, here.
Our luck held until this evening, when Otto went to install the VERY LAST new faucet, and the 40-year-old shut-off valves decided that you know, actually, it’s been a good run and all, but they’re sort of all done with the entire controlling flow of water thing. Otto will be headed back home tomorrow, and I will be calling a plumber. Or maybe just calling back the contractor. (“Mercy me, but my BIG STRONG MAN has left and these pipes won’t stop leaking. Seeing as how I spent TWO STRAIGHT WEEKS caulking the mess you left behind, maybe you’d like to come on over and FIX THIS? I mean, with the GRACE OF GOD, of course.”)
I had my typical we’re-being-separated-again breakdown earlier this morning, which was sort of nice because it got it out of the way, and then I was able to be fairly productive for the rest of the day. I think that when Otto and I dated years ago, he found it vaguely unsettling and mostly just annoying that I had such a hard time not even with saying goodbye, but ANTICIPATING saying goodbye.
Otto is a man of action. When it’s time to go, he goes. He does not sit around thinking about his tender little feelings and getting all worked up ahead of time. My penchant for sobbing about things that haven’t happened yet is puzzling to him.
This time around, there are dual forces helping us out on this: On the one hand, I think I tend to be slightly less hysterical each time we part, because we have A Plan and I tend to do better with A Plan. On the other hand, given the kindnesses of time and maturity and the much healthier relationship we have this time, I think Otto understands that my trouble saying goodbye really just means that I love him a lot, not that I’m losing my mind and/or trying to entrap him in some way. So it’s a much more tolerable situation all around.
So earlier I had my obligatory meltdown and we talked about how we’re halfway through; we’ve been back together, long-distance, for about six months. In another six months, I will be wrapping up life here and finally—nearly 18 years after we first met—setting up OUR household and merging our lives.
There have been a lot of scary talks this trip about the kids and what it means to be a stepfamily and how we prioritize and quite a lot of me saying reasonable-sounding things when really what I have wanted to say is “Look, I think these kids are pretty swell, but I’m no fool, and I know they can be incredibly annoying, and if you could just sign in blood right here or something that you are not going to decide that this gig is more than you can handle once you get into the reality of life with children, that’d be GREAT, THANKS.”
And then tonight at dinner we had our first family meeting of sorts; I asked the kids if they understood why Otto is taking our Christmas stuff back down to Georgia with him. Chickadee knew already, of course. Give that kid a hint and she’ll have the entire plot figured out in about five minutes; she not only declared that we are moving but was more interested in knowing if she could have a pink room and if she could write to her friends here (maybe, and of course) than much else.
Monkey had a harder time. He insisted that he does NOT want to move, and as we talked about what will change and what will stay the same and how long we have to prepare and what we know now and what remains to be seen, he perked up considerably. They asked me questions and they asked Otto a few questions. (Most of those were just about how much it snows in the south; Monkey immediately figured out that if we brought our snowblower with us, we could dig out the surrounding county each time it snows, lo that once every three years.)
We talked about how when we go visit Otto over the next school break, we’ll go look at houses, and if we can’t find the right one then, Otto will send us lots of pictures of houses we might like.
By the time the kids went up to get ready for bed, the foundation was laid and I felt like it had gone alright. “Hey,” said Otto, as we got up from the table, “you handled that really well. You’re pretty good at this parenting thing, has anyone ever told you that?” I’m sure someone HAS told me that before, but it never meant as much to me as it did coming from him, right then.
So tomorrow morning I will send this man a thousand miles away, with all of my Christmas decorations, with my family’s heirloom silver, with little bits of caulk on the hem of his shirt, probably, and a sore back from squeezing under my sinks and reaching up to paint my ceiling, and I will go back to missing him and doing chores on my own and spending my evenings after the kids are in bed marveling at how quiet it is and—hopefully—not caulking anything.
For a little while, anyway.