Life knows how to hand out frustration. It’s never a simple, single slice at a time, but–hey–why not take the whole cake today? Two weeks ago, the men’s bathroom at my office decided to perform a reenactment of the Great Flood. Some piece–likely of the toilet that we had repeatedly asked the county to come and fix–finally completely went south, and for the following 40-45-50 minutes, we had a river of water coming from the men’s bathroom, through the hall, around the corners, under the walls…you get the idea. My office just happens to be on the other side of that hallway wall. About half or so of my office flooded. (The good news is that I don’t keep files and such on the ground, nor any electronics or other things that I would be screwed if I lost.)
So, I went home a bit early that fateful Monday afternoon. I had already arranged time off that Tuesday to take care of a couple appointments. When I returned that Wednesday, everything looked like it was back to normal. I was told that the powers-that-be (not my boss, but the people in charge of the cleanup) had declared everything safe and dry. So, I sat at my desk and worked. Same on Thursday of that week, same on Friday of that week — getting stuff done in my office.
Imagine my surprise when I returned to work the following Monday morning to a scene out of E.T. Big white vinyl or plastic sheeting all over the back portion of the office, including a zippered closure between my office and the rest of my side of the building. Fans and dehumidifiers running all over the place. Loud. In my office, all my furniture was compacted into the front half of the room, making it practically impossible to actually get behind my desk.
After spending three days telling us that everything was fine–yeah, not so much. Project E.T. decontamination had now begun, and I was homeless, in the office sense. Fortunately, as an appellate attorney, I can do 90 percent of my job from my home office–reading, researching and writing. And I did…
You would think that I would be thrilled to be able to work from home for a few days. Maybe I should have been…but with my recent emotional issues again, focusing at home has been increasingly difficult. I can edit and revise and comment on things for other attorneys. I can correspond via email and phone calls. I can staff and give ideas. I can even help with a minor research issue for my supervisor. But I have experienced serious writer’s block of my own briefs while at home. The E.T. hardware remained in place…through Tuesday…through Wednesday…through Thursday…through Friday… Almost every morning, I have dutifully gotten up, gotten ready, and headed to my office–and each time, after a couple brief conversations and a little organizational groundwork, back home I would go.
Last night, I went to sleep actually excited to be heading back into my office today. They must have finished up their little extraterrestrial dissection project, right? I was told last week that everything is dry, everything is good (where have I heard that before?) and we were just waiting for someone to come take down the hardware and restore the hallways and my office to their original, working condition. Two weekends plus a full week–it should all be done, right?
I got into work this morning to discover: no change. The people who were supposed to come finish the cleanup job were supposed to come last Friday–never came. They were expected to come today…and, according to a reliable source at my office, claimed that they had “already come out and cleaned up” today. Only, you see, nothing had been cleaned up. As of 4:45pm this afternoon, still no improvement…
As you may have picked up over these many months of reading my blog, I’m a people person. Perhaps one of the reasons that I’ve fought back so much potential for depression (not saying I’ve been successful in fighting back all of it, of course) is that I try to keep myself busy and surround myself with others–to chat, to laugh, to tutor and teach, to discuss. My office isn’t always the best place for that…but there are usually at least a couple people around that I can talk to for a few minutes to break the monotony.
Now, put me at home for the better part of a week–no one else here, no one around to talk to, chat with, etcetera… Add to that my current struggles with missing Micah… I think you can see where I’m going: a spiral path downhill.
Today, I got some work accomplished, but I also just sat and felt miserable. Part of me wanted to just drop everything and go sit at Micah’s gravesite for an hour, just talk to my son, share things with him. Part of me wanted to sit and try to get work done. Part of me did not know what to do, and wanted to just stare at the wall. I did not get to the cemetery. I did a little work, I stared at the wall.
At least two or three times over the past week, I felt the strong temptation to take a right instead of a left off the 60, and go to the cemetery instead of my office. I feel horrible that I have only visited Micah a couple times since his funeral. Partially I fear that going to see him will start an uncontrollable downward spiral of depression and feelings of loss. The left-half of my brain talks me out of it by rationalizing that everything that was Micah is not really there. Sure, his body is lying there underneath, but everything that was really Micah is around me, above me, inside me.
Coming home from a couple errands this evening, I found myself telling Avi about something I wanted the “three of us” to do…the three of us. Perhaps I’ve just tried so hard subconsciously to not think about the size of my family…maybe it was the thought that the last time we tried inviting a dog into our family, there were four of us plus the pooch. I don’t like there only being three of us. We had two children. There are four of us. Were four of us. Are four of us…
Over the weekend, I thought it might help to get my mind off “things” by going to a couple Cubs games. The Cubs were in town over the weekend playing the Diamondbacks. Friday night wouldn’t work–we were going to see Straight No Chaser and Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox (who, by the way, were fantastic!! I have a new addition to my musical favorites list after watching and listening to PMJ perform!). I would go to Saturday night and Sunday afternoon’s games.
Of course, in the emotional “place” I’ve been inhabiting over the past couple weeks, I felt pretty alone. I knew Cynthia and Avi really did not want to go sit and watch a three-hour plus baseball game (not to mention a pair of games). The only people I’d really attended baseball games with this year had been my brother, my buddy David back in Chicago, and a couple other high school friends. That’s it. Most of the people I’m friendly with right now don’t express much interest in baseball in general, and specifically Cubs baseball. I have a couple friends that like baseball, but one is a teacher that was out of town on a retreat (and very bogged down with back-to-school stuff anyhow), and the other has his daughter’s hockey season getting started, as well as family things to do. I don’t really have a huge circle of “hanging out” friends…Lots of acquaintances, a few people who, in a pinch, would be there for me, but not many that call to say, “Hey, let’s go do something.”
With all the friends I appear to have, all the relationships I’ve built and fostered over the past 10 years…I spend a lot of time at home with my wife and daughter. Nothing wrong with that, but occasionally it’s nice to do things socially with other adults. Who knows? Maybe it’s that I don’t drink or “party.” Maybe I’m too straight-laced. Maybe my interests are too weird or geeky. Or maybe, with Micah gone, and me now no longer really part of the youth hockey world, there’s just nothing in common any longer. Please don’t think I’m looking for pity. I’m not trying to shame anyone into calling, or even feeling bad that they don’t. I made this bed. It was my own decisions that got me here. I will eventually rebuild a circle of friends, maybe some will start conversations about doing things out and about. I think I’ve started the process with a new group of people…but it takes time. Exploring new interests…spending time doing other things I like…maybe that will help.
Anyhow, perhaps going to the games this weekend wasn’t the best idea. Ever been alone in a crowd? For a while, it’s okay, but then it just kind of starts eating away at you. Sometimes you’re sitting near people that are friendly and conversational…but this weekend, I really wasn’t during either game. I tried to make the best of it…at least the Cubs got a big win yesterday afternoon.
Yesterday afternoon had an additional challenge. As I walked into the ballpark, I noticed a huge group of teenagers standing near the entry gate. It was the marching band–from Micah’s high school. My heart sunk. I came to try and get away from sad, get away from melancholy and enjoy my Cubs…and here I was faced with another reminder of what I lost. I didn’t see any kids that I knew (not sure Micah was friends with many band kids) or teachers hanging around…but for a few minutes, and then a few times throughout the game, I fought back tears and considered leaving and just going home–or maybe to the cemetery. I didn’t leave. I stayed…but I mourned.