Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Lady or the Tiger

The place where I work had a movie day recently. The film they chose was The Life of Pi. It made me cry, but not for the reasons my co-workers had.

The last two years have been the most hellish ones of my life. My wife and I left our home and jobs in Kentucky when my father collapsed in early 2012. We moved into my parents’ house and lived up close and personal while my father made his death spiral, complete with raised and dashed hopes. Anyone who knows me knows what a daddy’s girl I was. It was awful, and once he was gone I appreciated not only the love and guidance I’d gotten from him, but also the security I felt knowing he was there.

For the first few months after his death, I helped settle his affairs. I also sought work, not realizing what a difficult job market the Tampa Bay area was. The search became more desperate because the purpose that kept my mother and I working in unison – keeping Dad alive – no longer existed. He was gone, and now there was no buffer between us. My mother is a wonderful person, but we were not meant to live together. She has no sense of boundaries and wants constant socialization. I am as introverted and territorial as a hornet on the rag.

After five months of searching, I got a temp job. It got me out of the house, but it was a long commute and I was away 11 hours each day – leaving my wife at the house with my mother. No friends, no car, no reliable time to herself. When I got home, it became a war zone. Gwen’s antidepressant failed and she went into her own emotional downspiral. I will not go into further depth about this because I still feel responsible in many ways and it is too painful to write about. For the first time in my life, though, I had to truly be the strong one, the support, the one who had to hold things together because there was no fallback person.

In a stroke of belated but appreciated good fortune, I was taken on as a permanent employee. A few months later, we moved into our own place. Despite the fact that our new home is cheaper than any of the apartments we’ve seen, I still can’t afford to cover our costs on what I make. So Gwen and I frantically sought to find her a job that paid better than the crossing guard position she held. Did I mention that this was a hard place to find work?

My wife finally has a temp job lined up (only three months of searching=better economy?) that should help with the bills. I hope she eventually gets a permanent one so we can be secure in our new home. Right now, I can’t decide if our place is the carnivorous island or the coast of Mexico. If you've seen The Life of Pi, you know what I mean. All I know for sure is that I want the hell off the boat, because I’m not sure if I’m Pi or the tiger any more.