Saturday, March 6, 2010

Pause, Day 2

The sun is blasting through the windows and I knew this would happen if I parked my stuff in this corner. Still, it’s got an outlet under the table and I can see the skiers coming and going from here. Excellent vantage. I can hear “Stairway to Heaven” coming from the speakers nearby and it’s déjà vu and surreality all rolled into one. Back in the day, when my parents would haul us up to White Pass, we had two cassette tapes that we’d play over and over in the Dodge minivan. Led Zeppelin IV, I think, and another that had Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton singing “Islands in the Stream”.

Michael Jr. came in a bit ago from his lesson and he told me that Danae was his teacher! It was a great lesson, he said, and he’s feeling more confident. We ate the lunch Dad packed us (check this out: corned beef on rye or white, hummus, bruschetta, and brie with bagel crisps) and he’s out at it again. When I first suggested we sign up for three lessons he was skeptical that we’d actually go three times. Now he’s asking if we could come back a time or two before the season ends. He’s pretty excited to get to the stage where he can feel in control enough to try a real chairlift trip down the mountain with me.

(Which secretly scares me a little; I haven’t skied in over 20 years. I can just see myself developing an instant case of Avian Bone Syndrome and destroying myself on my first run . . . )

I’ve done the knitting and Project Runwaying so I have some time to sit here and write a little. In the spirit of journal writing, because this is My Journal, I’ve decided to write down more events from the past. I figure I’ll be glad I did when I become totally addled and feeble minded. But where to start?

The other day I wrote about moving to New Hampshire and getting Skipper. That was part of our time back east and I think I’ll start with moving to New Jersey, two years before.

Michael graduated from M.I.T. (again) in June of 1998 with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and another in nuclear engineering. Clearly the world was our oyster. We would be living in a gated community, swimming in our own pool, eating lobster (okay, I would be eating lobster) for every meal, jetting off to fabulous destinations and driving expensive cars. Obviously.

(Okay, I didn’t actually think all of those things would happen but I did think things would be pretty sweet and definitely easy.)

What actually happened was a bit different. The job offer that Michael received was in Forked River, New Jersey at Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station. Forked River is a small town along the Atlantic seaboard and Oyster Creek sat on the outskirts of town. With nothing else on the horizon and graduation and a new baby arriving soon, Michael accepted the job and we flew down to do some house hunting.

Generally accepted wisdom would tell you that a rental would’ve been the way to go because we had nothing to recommend us but the ability to get a VA Loan and New Jersey didn’t feel anywhere near a final destination (at least for me). Unfortunately, the housing market is a little different back east. Apartments were always full and being situated blocks from the beach, any rental houses available were pricey and smelled of the ocean. And not in a good way.

So a house it was. We settled on a new home on the edge of an old community of tiny beach bungalows now containing full-time residents. This was May and the house we chose wasn’t quite finished. It was estimated to be done a few weeks after graduation—almost perfect. But you know, these construction things rarely go by an actual stated time-table.

Back to Cambridge. Two sets of our parents flew in for graduation. Unfortunately, Michael’s Dad and Joan and I wouldn’t end up going. The planned graduation speaker was David Ho, an M.I.T. grad, Time magazine’s 1986 Man of the Year and a pioneer in the area of A.I.D.S. treatment but at the last minute Mr. Bill Clinton expressed an interest in sharing that honor. This put me out of the running as an audience member because at seven months pregnant, I wasn’t going to wait in long lines at the crack of dawn to have Secret Service clear me. And I sure as heck wasn’t going to sit on a folding chair in the sun to wait for the festivities to start. Hours later. Just thinking about how many times I’d need to use the Port-O-Potty and how horrible they would smell was enough to convince me to watch it on TV. But it was frustrating. I’d spent four years with Michael while he worked to earn this honor and I’d always meant to see it in person. Michael’s dad and his wife wouldn’t be there either because they booked their flight before we knew there’d be a need to show up so early for a 2 p.m. graduation. At least my parents were able to be there so there was some sort of family physically present.

A few days later the movers arrived and they packed us up. We said goodbye to the best view we’ll ever have and hopped a flight to New Jersey. We had hotel reservations in neighboring Toms River for two weeks but as the days passed it became pretty clear that our house wasn’t going to be move in-ready for a month or so. The plan was that at the end of two weeks I’d take Michael Jr. and head to my parent’s house. Michael would move into the new house and he’d come out in time for the birth of the baby. Mom and Dad had arranged for me to start seeing an OB/GYN in Olympia (who at the time happened to be Danae’s brother-in-law)—we thought we had our bases covered. But with a delay in the house, there wasn’t much need for Michael Jr. and I to stick around in a hotel. It sounds nice but remember, he was almost two and I was very pregnant. It was a nightmare. So anyway, Michael called the airlines and they moved up the date of our flight to July 4th. Michael moved into the Sea Pine Inn, one of the sleeziest places I’ve ever seen (mirrors on the ceiling—including over the table, the walls, everywhere, clothes already in the drawers from the previous resident, and folks checking in by the hour). He didn’t complain much; it was very close to work and it was super cheap.

I could just keep going but I’d better pace myself; someday soon I’ll tell you more.

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