Monday, September 19, 2011

Being Independent Stinks

August and September have been challenging months, yet they also demonstrate that I can live independently — at least as independently as most other working adults. In the last few months, I've had to deal with more disruption to my schedule and life than I thought I could handle. My wife has visited twice and we talk most nights, but for the most part I've had to settle into the new house and job on my own. I couldn't have done what I have without her support, yet that support has been from a distance.

Having to drive from Minnesota to Pennsylvania in a single day, right after a flight from Las Vegas to Minneapolis, was too much. I was exhausted and near my breaking point the first few days in Western PA. The movers arrived a few days later. I did my best to deal with the commotion and seemed to do okay, all things considered.

My wife's first visit was accompanied by J.C. getting ill. Her second visit ended with her visiting him at the pet hospital. He died only a few days after her visit. The loss of J.C. Kitty was horrible. Yet, somehow, I had to deal with it alone at the time. He couldn't wait for his mother, sadly, so we had to face the end together without her present.

I've had to deal with basement flooding (twice), having trees removed, getting the Jeep registered, obtaining my driver's license, attending formal campus events, new employee orientation, and all the other things a "normal" person has to face when moving for work.

I'm exhausted, definitely, but I have managed to not collapse.

Since Thursday, I've been sick. Not a little, sick, either, but sick enough that I lost another three pounds. I'm almost 190 pounds, down from a peak of 225 during my doctoral defense. I'd rather lose weight by exercising and eating healthier.

Even with being sick, I've still managed to medicate two cats each night. I've done pretty well, though I missed two entire days in bed. Getting up to care for the cats was about all I could do — but I did it because they need me.

Living independently means managing to do what has to be done, from grocery shopping to calling the plumber. It means mowing lawns and cutting fallen branches. Living alone means getting up when the alarms sounds, dressing up, and going to work on time. It means sharing my chicken breast with Alex and Misty — so I don't have to eat alone, at least.

I doubt most people would celebrate two months alone, going to work and managing a house. It isn't about intelligence or skills, it is about the emotional stress of being alone, without someone to fix my mistakes and tell me everything will be okay. I've met some of the smartest people in the world, and a few cannot live alone because they lose track of simple tasks, like buying food or doing laundry. Checklists and reminders only work if you aren't so focused that you forget to look at a calendar.

Doing okay on my own doesn't mean I like it. It would be much better if my wife could be here. I know the cats miss her, too. Still, at least she knows I can manage a basic routine alone. I have to make this work for another few months, and I will.

Personally, I'd rather not do things alone. Independence is nice, but life is better shared.

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