Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Moving Day Tales

As AJ and I were walking the grounds of my new apartment uber-complex, vainly searching for my mailbox, which turned out to be located a large distance from my actual dwelling and was identifiable by a number not the same as that of my actual dwelling, we came upon the pool area. It's a large, resort-style concrete pond and though the day wasn't typical IE hot, it was straddling 80 and muggy, so the morning's lifting of boxes and furniture made the crystal blue water an inviting target. Alas, there was work to be done and I did not have my pool key, so just as I resigned myself to an even longer walk to the phantom mailbox, a young Latino aged 6 or 7 emerged from the pool to open up for us, a neighborly move his mother, in full lounge chair mode and greased up like frying bacon, could not manage though she was far closer. I smiled in gratitude as he grabbed the gate when AJ, like only he can, said, "Hey Daddy! That kid looks kinda like a monkey!"

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My day started at 6 a.m. when X and I drove a rented truck to the nearest dump, ominously titled Badlands Landfill, to rid ourselves of seven years of acquired junk. Since I had been weeding through this stuff for weeks, I was numbed to the meaning these items once held and therefore had lost all desire to hold on to memories. X was not so lucky and agonized over boxes of AJ's baby toys as we loaded the truck Friday evening. She ended up taking a few momentos with her, but it was curious to see the impact of her actions roosting on her face. First time I'd seen that, really.

She slept on the couch Friday night and the awkwardness of being around her has abated somewhat. She has ceased putting on her faux cheerful act around me, a welcome occurance. We had a long, productive talk about AJ and I was very pleased with the results, with her willingness to listen to me, even if she doesn't immediately agree with what I'm saying. The last many months, she'd automatically shut down, go into a defensive shell, when I broached topics which made her feel like I was judging her or accusing her of something. For my part, I've tried to keep the discussions from turning adversarial. As I told her, I'm not trying to "catch" her fucking up. I'm only trying to help her see the implications of BOTH our behaviors regarding our son. Neither of us have walked this road before and already many issues have arisen which could not have been foreseen. In addition, certain actions have unintended consequences and we have to be more vigilant than ever about thinking of AJ before we act. So, after some starts and stops, some diversions down other paths, we came to an agreement on how to proceed. Which made tossing our past into a landfill at the crack of dawn a little more palatable.

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The next truck that arrived at the house was driven by Lupe, my mom's gardner. This guy's a genius. We had several large pieces of crumbling and crumbled furniture that needed to be hauled away and Lupe was the type of guy to fit the bill. When I saw his aging brown mid-size truck, I figured he'd need 4 or 5 trips to take everything. Little did I know he was possessed of an inner skill, stacking furniture perilously in his mind, fitting them together like Tetris pieces, until they rose well above the cab. It was a masterpiece. All that was missing was Buddy Ebsen and a rocking chair to top it off.

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The house closed escrow on Friday. Yesterday, there was a very large chunk of cash transferred into my bank account. More than half of it is already gone. I sent X her slice and, this morning, in a span of three minutes, I spent $30,000. Well, I didn't exactly spend it. I gave it to AJ. So, in 13 years, he'll be able to afford half a semester of college.

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I have yet to see any hot chicks in my complex. This is not for lack of trying. I make it a point to drive the grounds in my gleaming new ride for an hour each day, windows and sunroof open wide, blasting "The Thong Song."

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When we drove away from the house, AJ started to cry. No, not cry. Sob. Deep chest-wracking sobs. I pulled into the parking lot of the nearby park and sat with him in the back seat for a few minutes, telling him that it was just a house and while I'm sure he will miss it, he still has a home. Two, in fact. But to this point, it's the only home he remembers. He gets this look on his face when he's genuinely sad and it is the most heart-breaking look you can imagine. I've seen it a few times recently. On another occasion, he saw that I was throwing away an old comforter of his. It doesn't even fit his bed any longer and he hasn't used it in two years, but as he negotiated for its survival, he said, "That blanket is very special to me."

Yeah, like I'm going to still throw it away after that.

It's funny, I mention these incidents to X and she's surprised. While he tells me he doesn't want to leave the house, he tells her he can't wait until I move closer. While he tells me he wishes Mommy and Daddy still lived together, he tells her he loves her new apartment. It's like he's treating us diffferently based on our own moods, our own reactions to what is happening. He sees X is "happy" and reacts to her as such. He sees I am "sad" and consoles me with his words. Is this simply a coincidence? Perhaps he's been different with us all along and only the split has brought this into focus. Or is he really THAT perceptive and acts in a way consistent with how we would want him to act; his behavior is DESIGNED to keep him in step with our moods. It's very curious.

To be sure, X and I, as individuals, relate diffferently to AJ. I'm the touchy, feely, silly one, more affectionate, more willing to make an ass out of myself for his pleasure, more prone to ending up with him on the floor participating in a dinosaur attack on a Lego pirate ship. She's the serious one, more strict, more concerned with his public behavior, rigid in bedtimes and foods. She gives him a roughly equal amount of attention, but it is usually more focused on "learning" types of activities, as opposed to "fun."

That's not a judgement, by the way. She could certainly loosen up with him, just as I could stand to tighten up. I simply put it there to perhaps illlustrate how he has divined our moods and how he best can adapt to them. Regardless, this is the only real obvious difference in his behavior to this point, so I guess we can count ourselves lucky that it's seemingly benign, while acknowledging it's something to continue to monitor.

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I played the Gemini WPBT Event on Sunday night, which will be one of my few forays into online poker for the foreseeable future. It was fun, though I went on tilt at Level One. I managed to calm myself in time to finish ITM in one and tied for 5th overall in the points race. In a quirk, I was knocked out of one by doubleas when he cracked my Hammer with QQ and then knocked him out of the other when my AJ (Gold!) out-flopped his AQ. So, both times, the worst hand won.

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I am totally loooking forward to my Scotland/Ireland trip in 8 days time. Plans are slowly coming together, though I have very little information on what's going to happen most of the time. I have some small trepidation about leaving so quickly after this big transition, feeling like I'm abandoning AJ at a tumultuous time, but it's something I need to do. My only other fear is getting sloppy drunk in a Glasgow pub and not being able to understand a single word people are saying to me, rendering me a daft c--- in their eyes. I've been watching Trainspotting on an endless loop to train my ears.

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US v. Morrocco tonight. Anything less than total domination will make me even more wary about the World Cup than I already am.

11 Comments:

At 11:31 AM, Blogger Doog said...

Kids are amazingly perceptive and responsive to their parents. The bulk of their personality is molded, not so much by the times that we consciously make the effort to shape them, but by their continuous observation and emulation of the way we, their parents, their role models, their heroes (hopefully), react to the world.

I dare say, Mr. Speaker, that you give your son an excellent pattern to follow.

 
At 1:04 PM, Blogger Div said...

Forget Trainspotting, try this..

http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/tv/chewinthefat/

 
At 2:10 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

For fuck sake, Rents! I'm not a bufty and that's the end of it!

If you've never been to Ireland, don't worry about them thinking of you as a daft C U Next Tuesday. The people are awesome there, and for the most part love Americans (unlike some countries, ah I'll say it, Fuck the French). I spent a month in Ireland, and spent 27 of the 30 days drunk at some point or another...and I'm not a big drinker. You are going to have a great time. I'm looking forward to the post-Ireland write-up.

 
At 12:33 AM, Blogger geewits said...

I wish I could set you up to speak with my daughter. She's 21 now and has just recently begun to tell me things about how living in the two different households almost gave her a split personality. She's doing well in life, but she never gets too close to anyone, although we are friends. On a totally different note, get as drunk as you like across the pond, but do NOT discuss soccer (football) with them!

 
At 7:40 AM, Blogger Drizztdj said...

That match last night put me to sleep.

Hope Team USA plays the rest of the friendlies with a little more punch.

 
At 7:58 AM, Anonymous Jen said...

My little guy's only 13 months old, so I don't have any solid insight into a child AJ's age. That said, when I read the part about him telling you and X different things, my first thought was that
a) he is remarkable perceptive and
b) he's telling you, not what he thinks you want to hear, but what he knows you can take hearing.

You said it yourself--recent attempts to discuss AJ and how your behaviors affect him have resulted in a purely defensive reaction from X. You're willing to talk about the tough stuff and admit when things hurt. She's not. And I think AJ has picked up on that. If you were both doing what X does, then I'd worry about AJ if I were you. But you've given him the necessary example that it's ok to talk honestly about how you feel...and his mother has taught him that sometimes you need to be...well, tactful, because not everyone can.

 
At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Tennyson said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Ok well Houdini actually said it first, but anyway..


"Never try to fool children. They expect nothing and therefore see everything"

Its not so much you trying to trick or "fool" them, but they pick up on what you don't.

Sponges

 
At 11:50 AM, Blogger iamhoff said...

Good luck with everything, man. As others have said, you have set an excellent example for AJ...you can be proud of that. And good on ya for setting him up with half a semester of college. That's for a State school, right? (I keed, I keed).

Have an absolute blast in Ireland, and despite the inevitable adult beverages that will be quaffed, find a way to take notes. We will want a recap.

 
At 1:25 PM, Anonymous Jen said...

Thanks, tennyson. I manage to drone on and possibly stumble across some good insight in a wordy ramble, and you manage to say it better in three succinct sentences. Sheesh...

 
At 3:49 PM, Blogger smokkee said...

straight pimpin'. the thong song, LMAO.

 
At 7:53 AM, Anonymous Sigsegv said...

Well, obviously, your new apartment didn't come with the "hot chicks room" addition. Too bad. Mine's great. Just stay away from the bucket of truth. ;)

 

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