Monday, April 30, 2007

"At a Crossroad.....but which way does one go?"

Just recently my husband Allen got a job as a finisher on a lark, apparently he was hired because the owner could not seem to get in touch with the guy he wanted (who had also interviewed for the job but then kind of disappeared), so he offered Allen the job under auspicious conditions. Upon working at this company, it was not clear what the situation was, he only knew that Steve (he never did learn his last name) hired him. There seemed to be other boss type people running around, asking things of him, but none would clarify for him who he was to report to. So as things move along Allen begins to feel that he is not really a part of this company and that though, he is the finisher, no one consults with him about decisions on his jobs.
Allen is a slow, considerate and precise worker. He is not one to jump on a job without thought as to how it is best to proceed. He is diligent, conscientious and thorough. He comes from a background where it is best to do a well thought out job than to mess it up and have to do it again. He grew up on a farm, so hard work is not alien to him and was a diary farmer for 15 years. Prior to coming to Long Island, he was praised for being the kind of worker he is. It has become apparent that this is not appreciated on Long Island where speed and production (regardless of quality) is what is appreciated. Allen is now unemployed and is torn between why it is he cannot fit in (this being his second job on LI). I naturally tend to examine what it is about human nature and society that makes these things as they are. We are at a crossroads, we have a house in Pennsylvania, so he can try to look for work there, except that the rate of pay would be on the poverty level on LI. Yet, we know that the cost of living is cheaper there. The other thing is that I would have to stay here on LI until my son is done with High School (another 3 years to go) and Allen and I would be apart except for some weekends and summers when I am off from my job at a school.
It is not as if this would be terribly difficult since we are both comfortable being alone. When we dated he lived 2 1/2 hours away. We did not see each other with great regularity. Prior to our relationship he'd been divorce for 12 years and I for about 6 years. I think my struggle, if thats what it can be called, is the uncertainty of it all. My husband is 55 and the truth be told, his days for starting a great new career are slim. Yes, many people start whole new careers in their later years but I see all the "stuff" my husband carries and trust me it is quite the heavy load. He grew up in a very controlling, narcisistic home where his father was verbally and physically abusive. His mother basically abandoned him emotionally at the age of 2, preferring infants to toddlers (she's told him so). Allen's sisters are really his only caring connection to his childhood and for this we are both grateful. He loves them and feels that he can count on them. Though he speaks with his mom occasionally (she often confuses our phone number for Microsoft and calls for help - no really this is true. When she calls and says "is this Microsoft", I gently say "no Kay, this is Allen's home - and no she does not suffer from dementia). He has no contact with his father who is still alive. His family life is one that brings on deep sadness, longing and often tears. He was broken at 10 years old and was never able to regain his self-esteem and faith in himself. My husband is also incredibly intelligent with an IQ in High School of about 145. His knowledge on almost any topic is amazing and yes, sometimes a little too much.
I am not sure what will happen but I do know that working on Long Island does not seem to be in his future. So I stand, looking ahead, knowing that soon, my husband will probably move to Pennsylvania without me (he's already applying for jobs). I try to remember that the universe is neither for me nor against me. That the truth is, if I stand back and I root myself firmly I will understand that I don't need control, that it is OK to let things be. Life is going to happen regardless of what I do, say or stand for. Believing this and turning it over to the powers that be, do bring me some peace. I know that each day I will open my eyes to all the possibilities that will come with every single change. I give thanks for our strong, kind, and loving relationship and I know that in the end, no matter the distance, we are together.......

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Its been awhile since my last post due to my travel with my son Jon to Italy. Two years ago I promised my son that we'd take a trip to the place where his paternal grand-parents migrated from. For years I have read books on Italy and watched many travel channel shows on this very rich in culture, art and history place. My husband stayed behind due to work and also expense, but he was happy that Jon and I would have this time together. I was hesitant to travel at this time because truly it is such a luxury and one that I certainly can't afford. But the bottom line is that there will always be a reason not to go and since Jon was little I tried to provide him not with things so much, but mostly memories that he can carry in his life. We don't have a lot of money but we are blessed with a very very rich life in ways that allow me to wake in the morning and smile.

Our trip to Italy began with a nine hour flight from New York to Rome. Upon arrival I realize that I will need Euro's. Trust me friends, do not purchase Euro's at the Airport in Italy. The exchange is not good and they charge you service fee's. Unless
you know the language (and trust me I used my broken Italian quite often) you don't always know what you are getting into. At the Hotel we meet Our trusty, quirky and delightful guide Dominic John Harris, a Scottish fellow who lives in Italy during heavy tourism time and in Scotland the rest of the time. It is a hectic and busy job he has, organizing, rushing us in the morning, singing on the bus and overall keeping us entertained. Dominic and our trusty driver Fabio (yes, Fabio) spent 10 days driving, organizing, searching for missing tourists, and entertaining us (Dominic is has a record label and share with us one of his very catchy fine tunes "Searching"). By the end of our trip everyone knew the words and sang delightfully during our bus rides. We were very fortunate to travel with a very nice group of 4o adults and about 8 kids. We got up every morning at about 6:30 and it was go, go, go all day. It was not a vacation for the faint at heart. On the first day one of the girls stated that her pedometer said we walked about 12,000 steps. Trust me it was a working vacation and all I have to say is Thank God for all the Vino.
Honestly Italy was bigger, richer and more beautiful than I had ever imagined. We were in Rome, Venice, Florence, Sorrento, and the Coast of Amalfi. In 10 days we saw more history and art than I have seen in my life time. I had deep moments of not wanting to return to the US. Italy is wonderfully passionate, with people who are so expressive and alive. They truly get it. They work and then close from 1-4 in
some areas for their siesta and then life picks up again. I think most human beings would benefit from such a break in the day. My favorite city was Florence, I am deeply affected by the peacefulness of the countryside with all its beautiful color, mountains and wild pastures.

Jon, who is 14, had a wonderful time meeting new friends, learning about his heritage and our time together (w
hich, as he's grown older is sporadic) was a gift to us, as we talked late into the night about our day and shared our favorite moments. For all who yearn to travel and like me often have a million reasons not to. Please do yourself and your loved ones a favor and do try. It is what we take with us and the memories we leave for others. Life is so very short and there are just so many aha moments and things that take your breath away like the Sistine Chapel, Pisa, St. Marks Square. For me this trip was an Aha moment often, the world has so much beauty and we really miss so much of if being busy making a living. I cannot tell you what my favorite moment was because everyday was a treasure that left me in awe. To explain what I saw and describe Michael Angelo's work or the enormity of the Trevi fountain would have zero impact until you see it.