Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I worked my Evanston job last night-- I only work there on Monday nights. I'd love to give up having to drive up there and pay for parking, but the extra money justifies continuing to do it, at least for a while.
I was glad I did work there last night. I was waiting on a table with a three gentlemen, and couldn't figure out why one of them looked so familiar. Suddenly I realized that it was a guy I'd met at a blogger gathering last year: the father of bloggers Kristi and Vikki.
When I got home, Kim was already asleep, so I changed clothes, poured a glass of wine and checked my email and my regular blogs. One of the posts I read was this very sweet one about the anniversary, November 8, of our first date four years ago.
Four years ago, I was still a sixth grade teacher and she was still working her first post-divorce job at one of Chicago's major newspapers. The job was a sweatshop in an office; she'd have to make a hundred or more phone calls a day. She didn't own a car, so she had to walk her daughter to school, get on the el and go to work. After school, Mel would go to a daycare center that, while conveniently located at the end of the block Kim lived on, was filled with kids way younger than Mel. She was bored there.
For my part, life was a blur. When my landlord and I kicked out the evil roommate, I was faced with footing all the costs for the three-bedroom apartment I lived in. I checked into other apartments in the area and discovered that now that my neighborhood had become a "hot" neighborhood in Chicago, I'd pay nearly as much for a one-bedroom, let alone a two-bedroom apartment. Since I had a backyard for my son and a washer and dryer in the basement, I decided to stay. That meant never saying no to an extra shift at my second job at a nearby restaurant. I was exhausted all the time. My home was always a mess because I was too damned tired to clean it.
In four years, things have changed. Kim got another job that was better and recently got yet another that has been a big improvement; the stress level at her job has been greatly reduced. And after a two-year battle with an the principal from hell, I left my sixth grade teaching job. Around the same time, my father survived a major cancer surgery and I buried one of my closest, oldest friends after he was murdered in a robbery. I took a teaching position for a year, and then went back to school. I've been working on a degree in Pharmacy, but have made a decision to switch to nursing; it would take less than half the time, and the job opportunities and money are both great. Either way, there's no way I would have been able to do it if Kim weren't around. I need to finish school soon; I want to make good on my promise to both my kids to pay for most of their college.
Oh, and Kim and I got married on December 30, 2005.
Four years ago, everybody I knew was dazed that Americans had re-elected an idiot. Kim was still a struggling single mother, and I was still a teacher and struggling single father. How things change in four years.
One of the costs of my new work and school schedule has been time together with Kim. I decided I need a couple of adjustments. This morning, I got up when Kim did. I made her coffee and cooked her breakfast and sat and talked with her before she ran off to work.
After she left, I grabbed my ipod shuffle, put on my running shoes and my old "Eastern Illinois University" running jacket and went for a run in nearby Horner Park. After having two old friends in their forties die of heart disease in the last month, I've made a commitment to work up to running three times a week. I've got to make sure to stick around. I have people who depend on me.