Finding out on Friday that I was going to have to move whether I wanted to or not set off a chain of reactions that left me very sad and depressed for the last couple of days. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve wanted to get out of this apartment for a long time, but my hope was to be in a financial situation where I’d be moving from here into a house. As it turns out that’s exactly what I’ll be doing, but it won’t be my house. More likely it’ll be the home of my in-laws. Anne and I both agree that if we’re going to pack everything up and move we may as well move out of this complex all together. Moving from one cramped two bedroom apartment to another cramped two bedroom apartment just doesn’t seem to make any sense. The problem, as I mentioned earlier, is that I don’t think there’s anything around the same price in Canton to move into and almost certainly nothing that would be cheaper. Even if we were to stay and I do manage to land this new job it doesn’t appear that I’ll be making enough money to pay rent and get all our bills caught up. So my in-laws have graciously offered to let us move in with them and I really, really don’t want to that. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing against my in-laws as they are the best any husband could hope for and they’ve been more than supportive of us. My problem with the idea lies entirely with myself.
The first time I tried moving out onto my own I was 21 years old and I was dating Courtney’s mother. It was an experience that A) showed me what a mistake it would be to marry the woman I moved in with and B) ended up providing me with a daughter outside of marriage. We lived together for about ten months about two-thirds of which we shared an apartment with another couple whom I had been friends with since high school. I’m honestly surprised that we’re still friends considering the hell I put them through as my relationship melted down in a most spectacular fashion. When it all finally collapsed I was working as a security guard and couldn’t afford to maintain my half of the rent by myself so another friend of ours moved in with Tom and Shirley and I packed up my stuff and moved back in with my parents. My intention had honestly been to only stay long enough to get my act together and then move back out on my own, but I fell into a rut and didn’t move back out again until I was 31 years old. I have no good excuses and in retrospect it’s a pretty embarrassing passage in my life and it’s part of why I really don’t want to move in with my in-laws.
I took advantage of my own parents for too long when I should’ve been out standing on my own two feet. I had grown up physically, but I’d allowed my maturity to stagnate and I never came to understand or appreciate my own idiocy until I finally had to move out again because my dad was retiring and wanted to sell the house. By then I was working a very lucrative job for EDS/GMAC flying around the country in late 1998 upgrading their PCs in preparation for Y2K and more than able to support myself. In December of that year I leased this apartment and this December will mark my 7th year here. It was less than 7 months later that I took custody of Courtney when my ex was sent to prison for being arrested a second time in as many years for embezzlement. It wasn’t much longer before Anne moved in here despite the fact that we weren’t even engaged yet. Suddenly I had a lot of growing up to do in a very short period of time.
Looking back on it I’d have to say it’s the period of my life I’m most proud of. I was bewildered and had no idea how to be a full-time dad as I hadn’t been a particularly good part-time dad. I had a woman living with me only because she was certain I’d eventually get around to marrying her that I had to learn to live as well as parent with. I was working as a contractor which meant that my job could end at any moment without warning. And I had not only my own bills from a misspent youth to deal with, but some from my wife-to-be including her old college debts. During the last 7 years my wife had what amounts to a nervous breakdown when demons from her own past finally caught up to her and she fell into a very deep depression that I sometimes wondered if she’d ever come out of. We lived off of my income alone while she got the counseling and medication she needed to work through the stuff she’d suppressed for decades by going to school full time and working two jobs to pay for it.
In short, I thought I’d move into this more than big enough for one idiot guy apartment and spend the next year getting bills caught up so I could buy a house and move out of here only to be hit with an avalanche of new challenges and life changes that I never would have anticipated and I became the man I should’ve been years back and handled it all surprisingly well—if I do say so myself—for someone a lot of folks wrote off as being an unmotivated bum. I am very proud of who I’ve become and how far I’ve managed to progress in just seven short years. I’ve still got a lot of learning and growing to do, but I’ve got a lot to be happy about.
This is why moving in with my in-laws has me so upset. For the past 11 months I’ve managed to get by and survive with a lot of help from friends and family and you readers, but not so much that I felt I was being an undue burden. I’ve managed for seven years to always find a way over or around or through every seemingly insurmountable problem that has come along and I expected my unemployment to be a similar experience. I had no clue how I’d make it, but I’d find a way just as I always have. I had unending confidence that I’d get through this more or less intact and on my own two feet. So despite the fact that there are some very good and compelling reasons to take my in-laws up on their offer of moving in with them for awhile, it still feels like I’m giving up and becoming the failure that so many folks in my past predicted I would be. It’s the easy route to take and I took that route too many times in my past. I don’t want to fall back on the easy route if I don’t absolutely have to. The thing is that it’s really starting to look like it may be my only option.
Anne promises it’ll only be 6 months to a year as we get ourselves back on our feet and get some of the old bills paid off. My father-in-law is quite keen on the idea himself despite the fact that he already has two adult children of his own still living at home. I’m family and there’s nothing they won’t do for family or friends as they’ve taken in friends in the past who needed a helping hand for awhile as well. The whole experience will likely feel a bit like the Waltons, though a bit more cramped. I’m wary of the assurances that it’ll be only a year at the most because I’ve allowed myself to fall for that line of thinking many times before. It was only going to be a year or so when I moved back in with my parents and it was only going to be for a year or so when I moved into this apartment and the reality ended up being entirely longer than a year or so. I don’t want to be the burden I’m about to become to people who have already done more than enough for me and my family. My own folks have suggested that we could move in with them as they have the extra room to spare as well, but I don’t want to take them up on that offer for the very same reasons I don’t want to take my in-laws up on theirs. Of the two, my folk’s have more room to accommodate us, but are so far away that trying to get a job in south eastern Michigan would be impractical compared to Brighton where my in-laws live. In either case it means moving Courtney to a new high school in the middle of the year when she’s already struggling with her grades. I had a hard enough time moving to a new high school over the summer back when I was 17 so I really would rather not do that to my daughter. I don’t even wanna think of the trauma poor Melvin’s going to have to deal with when he suddenly finds himself living with three other cats.
Most of all, though, I just don’t want to do this. I don’t want to be a failure as a man, a father, and a husband which is exactly what I feel like at the moment. I feel like I’m this close to finally breaking through this troubled period, but it may be too little too late and it’s killing me.