Twenty Years and We Are Here
My wife is the most important person in my life, and the last decade has been anything but fair and good to her. Our relationship imploded for a time, in no small part because doctors (of both the medical and mental health variety) had little clue how to address physical and neurological issues. For most of the time we've known each other, I've never felt like I deserved her as a friend, much less as a companion. I wanted her to be happy — and I doubted very much that I could give her the life she deserved.
We've lost a fair amount of time and money trying to earn enough to live. I dreamed of earning enough to "pay her back" for all she did. Instead, we went backwards. A computer store and a bookstore, with other ventures along the way, consumed most of her money, along with money from friends and family. My medical problems also consumed much of her income. I had various jobs, none of them lasting any significant time, and things were looking rather bleak before I finally decided I had to complete a graduate degree to start again.
I realize she could have been far more successful and secure without me holding her back. But, she stuck around even while I was lost and had no idea where or what I should be.
My master's degree was meant to be a path to teaching at the community college level. Somehow, I ended up applying to graduate schools while completing the master's thesis. When I was accepted to the University of Minnesota, I asked her marry me (again) and join me on this confusing journey. I don't know why she said yes, considering how lousy the last few years had been — but she agreed and we moved in the summer of 2006.
Moving to Minnesota seemed like the start of a new life. It didn't quite work out that way. The move to Minneapolis was a huge step and one I still don't know how to evaluate. It was a lousy five years, physically, for me. Without my wife, I probably wouldn't have survived in Minnesota. The university experience was miserable at times and I was exhausted by 2010. I simply wanted to return home to California or another Southwestern state. I wanted to return home, even though home hadn't been a great place for us.
Tonight, I realized I was now where I had hoped to be in 1991, before the computer store or any other misadventures. Since moving from California, we've both completed graduate degrees. I am teaching, which had been my plan back in 1991. We have a house (technically, we have two for now) with a large lot and plenty of room for our books. We have some security, finally, and a vision of what might be ahead of us.
Though it is twenty years later than planned, I can finally give her the life I had dreamed of providing.
No, things are not perfect. We have a house we need to sell. We lost J.C. right after this move. We are truly starting over, financially and emotionally. But I can see where we are heading and I'm confident things will be okay.
When did I realize things were better? When I was sitting at my old desk, with the desk lamp on and my journal open, and I started to write for the first time since Fido Bear passed away in 2007. Before Fido's death, I hadn't written anything in the journals since 2003. Sitting at my desk and writing felt familiar. It was what I had done throughout high school and into college. Yet, for some reason I hadn't written much of anything for myself over the last thirteen or so years.
In thirteen years, I hadn't sketched more than three or four pages. I had written fewer pages in that same time than I wrote in a single sixteen-week semester at USC. When sixteen weeks is more productive than thirteen years, something is definitely wrong. I've struggled, a lot, to regain my confidence and sense of purpose. Tonight, I felt like things were as they should be.
Minnesota never felt like home. I'm not even sure our apartment in California felt like home. This feels like home. It will be complete once my wife is here, but it is already a better life.
I cannot believe we really made it to this point. Wish we had made it a lot sooner, but here we are.