Thursday, June 23, 2011

Awash in Nostalgia

Natali bent down and cried a little when she said goodbye to the Lorax. They have lived together for two years and won't see each other until October. My ex made a point of not inviting me inside, instead insisting on being friendly enough outside her house. Andreas was already inside, so he didn't get to say goodbye to his brother, and probably didn't care. I talked for a while with my ex, while the Lorax looked at her dogs and wondered aloud where Natali had gone to. It was like he knew she was more gone than when she usually disappears from sight.

I get to spend one more day with them, when I get off from work after this weekend, but the Lorax will head back to Milwaukee with his grandmother tomorrow.

I took Christian for a walk around downtown La Crosse. He marvelled at the same things Natali and Andreas did five years ago, when we first moved here. It's such a beautiful, cool night here; the Lorax shrieked as he chased sticks down the little stream that flows from one of the statues. He got too excited and stepped in the little river, just as his brother did 4 years ago.

I could have cried, but I haven't yet. The Lorax sleeps with his grandmother and I just got back from a run. I planned to go running around town and to thicken the nostalgia I ran around the hospital where we used to live. Many of the houses were hit by a tornado this spring and ours is marked with a neon orange box. Some houses have x's inside the boxes, and they seem to be condemned, but ours had a family moving in. It struck me that the new interns are probably starting next week.

I snuck around the back and almost couldn't breathe as I looked into our old kitchen. Birthdays with the kids, our first Christmas in La Crosse, my early romance with the Girl, the kids running out the back door; it all came back to me. It felt so close, like I could reach back in time and walk in there to a life that resembled normalcy.

I could see the bedroom ceiling and imagined all our things on the floor. I imagined waking up there with the Girl on a warm summer morning, listening to the birds outside.

It's an end of an era. Natali has been a light in my life these last two years and she has been a major positive force in Christian's life. She is very proud of what she has accomplished in Denmark and talks about keeping a similar lifestyle in La Crosse. I hope she succeeds.

Now that she is gone, there are a few positives. I will have more time for Christian and the Girl, not to mention the new baby. Natali and the Girl have a step-mother, step-daughter relationship that I don't understand. Seeing their disagreements move into the background will be nice.

But even with a myopic focus on the positives, I am already counting down the days till we move back here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I felt moved to write a blog post just now. I'm on the train home and was reading World According to Garp. Garp's kid just died and I was starting to water up so bad I couldn't pass it off as allergies. The girl opposite me was looking at me, trying to figure out what was going on.

What's going on is that I am a mess. Natali has 10 days left here and she is doing everything once last time. Everything is a panicky realization that " dad, we won't be able to do that before we leave!". She is planning things with each of her friends, exchanging email addresses and Skype info. She hasn't started packing yet; in fact, she still decorates her room, pretending she will be in it forever.

I have resolved not to wallow. The Girl blames me for being too nostalgic, and she is right. If I started grieving, I would take it too far, and ruin Natali's last weeks here.

It's six months and we'll be in Wisconsin for The Girl's maternity leave (likely Madison, but we not 100% sure). But I'm not built for these long waits, at least not anymore. She will grow up without me there for an entire half year, making new friends, changing, learning, opining.

The critical reader may say that I have another son, who I readily left for three whole years. And that read would be right; my only explanation is that people adapt to anything, and my adaptation was to dote on Natali. I look forward to spending time with both of them this winter, so all is not bad.

The fact that the new baby is not growing adequately is making this time worse. I couldn't believe that the Girl returned from the doctor's yesterday with scary information and less that half-assed reassurance that "things are probably ok". An u
Ultrasound will tell us if things are ok, not a nurse who is behind schedule and wants to "move the meat" (which happened to be something I said all the time as a senior resident, but it seemed cool then). Goddamn Danish health care. Especially primary care is so dangerously incompetent that one always has to hope for a quick referral to a specialist.

So on the positive side,

The weather is good
Work is good
I'll be a hematologist in 6 short months, ending my life-crippling commute.
The kids don't have leukemia
The Girl is slowly starting her maternity leave. She is happy and healthy.
Natali loves it here and will think of these two years as the best of her life.

on the other hand,

I have a life-crippling commute
I'm too emotionally labile to read Garp in public
I'm fat (ran a 3:19 marathon that felt like a 3:05 marathon should)
Natti is leaving
I worry about the baby