Okay, so a friend told me that my previous blog, about my kids leaving, was safe - that I was holding back. It's true. It was safe, but I needed it to be safe, just to be able to get something written down. I knew if I could start with something a little safe, I would be able to progress into less-safe writing.
So, two years ago, I decided to get a place in Atlanta to stay during the work week and drive home to Monroe on the weekends. Even though Monroe is only 50 miles to my office, with Atlanta traffic I was regularly making a 15-20 hour/week commute. I had talked to Mike about moving to Atlanta but he was dead-set against it. I had looked for jobs in and around Monroe but couldn't find anything - anything worth doing, anyway. So, we talked it over and decided it would be best for me to stay in town through the week.
At first, it was very awkward. After going home to Mike every day for a few years, I was "going home" to my little rinky-dink hotel room, that I rented by the month. The place did the job, it had a bed, TV, closet and bathroom, but the hotel smelled a bit like moth balls - or as I liked to describe it, "old people." I rented the hotel for a few months but that eventually got old - going to an old-people-smelling hotel room, with none of my pets, Mike, or any loved ones. I still loved my job but still couldn't stomach the commute. I decided to approach Mike again about the possibility of moving from Monroe into Atlanta. My ammo - renting a studio apartment and signing a one-year lease. Mike argued that if I eventually got tired of my job, I'd come back to Monroe and all would be fine. I told him that the job market in Monroe was not likely to change and even if I did change jobs, it would most likely be for another job located in Atlanta. Well, he decided to take that bet. And like that, the game of Chicken was on. Who would budge first?
I signed a lease on a cute little studio apartment. For furniture, I used Mike's mom's old bed, couch and TV. Basically, I just raided her apartment downstairs and took what I needed to furnish it. Mike really didn't like me taking the furniture (he abhors change) but he also understood that I needed furniture and purchasing new was not an option. I felt much better in the studio, simply for the fact that I had a kitchen (even though I'm not an avid cook) and more squares for my feet. Coming home to an empty place after work was still somewhat difficult though. I used to meet a friend or two for dinner once or twice a week but that got to be a bit costly. I also think Gabe might have felt a little sad for me and started Sunday and/or Thursday night TV watching at his and Trin's house. Dan would go too.
The first few months were the hardest. Mike would drive into Atlanta on occasion, for dinner or a movie, but he didn't like making the drive. (I know. I had the solution for him, too.) Eventually, Mike's drive into Atlanta became much less frequent - once or twice per month, instead of weekly. As the festival became closer and closer, I worked weekends in addition to my regular hours, so my trips to Monroe also decreased. Then, his ventures into the city slowed to once every other month and my hike to Monroe was somewhat similar.
I started to get really angry - for many reasons. I was angry that my husband was completely fine with his wife living elsewhere (especially since he worked from home, so the location shouldn't matter); angry that he made no effort to try and rectify the situation; angry that he wouldn't spend the night when he did make it into Atlanta; angry that he seemed to lose interest in my life (stopped coming to events/parties); and angry that he wasn't angry. I knew that this inadvertent separation was pretty serious. When I expressed my concerns to Mike he brushed them off and assured me that things were fine. I told him I thought we should seek marriage counseling, but he refused. I once again asked him about moving and he told me that he'd give it some thought and we'd talk about it in six months or so. He gave me that one thing I was looking for: Hope.
(This blog is one of a few parts, more to come.)