Divorce is Hard, Even for Fish

1/20/20 Monday

It’s been a good few days. It was my weekend with Day which always helps. I got to watch him an extra couple of days last week because Sara was sick and she asked me to. My boy and I got to play at the local arcade, we ferried over to the mainland to watch a movie, and got to play hookie from school and work because it snowed, which is pretty rare here at sea level. When it snows on the island it tends to dump a lot then melt quickly, so it’s best to make the most of it. Sledding is something we look forward to every winter. My boy rides down the hill on my back, the same way I used to ride with my Dad.

after-the-rain.org / Dad sledding with son

A few days ago we had to swing by Sara’s to pick up his snow gear. I never really know what to expect when we see each other. It can be very unpredictable, and my heart goes into self-preservation mode as we enter the driveway. The trees look bigger. The grass is long. I try not to look to the left to see the grave I dug for our family dog. Once inside I pick up the cat that runs down the stairs when he hears my voice. Day and I picked him out as a kitten, now he’s 20 pounds of muscle and claws. He’s a shredder of furniture and people, but I hold him the same way I held him as a kitten. Somehow he remembers, closes his eyes, and purrs away. I miss him. Sara and I talk uneasily about snow boots, dental insurance, and how the goldfish need help. Last year I made a home outside for some of them which had outgrown the aquarium inside, but Sara is worried they’re getting too cold and I worry they’re being neglected.

after-the-rain.org / Boy with cat

I offer to buy more clothes, to take Day to the dentist, to bring the outside goldfish back to my new place to take care of them here. I struggle to do as much as I can without feeling taken advantage of, which is hard. It’s my nature to offer everything I have to give. The visit is tense but pleasant, constructive and brief. Before long we’re headed out, me dodging potholes in the gravel road, Day in the backseat holding a bowl of fish in his lap, water sloshing all over his lap, both of us laughing. The fish are panic stricken I’m sure but somehow make it back safely. They have to wait for hours in their little bowl until the water temperature steadies out to the same between the bowl and their new tank. I watch them and sense their unease, confined and unsure of the future – I know how they feel.

It’s Monday now, Day is back with his Mom. He and I had the best time possible, for more time than usual, but it doesn’t seem to help at the moment. I miss him terribly. I sit here and write, drinking red wine and eating my dinner of sauteed onions, peppers and chicken, mixed with leftover macaroni and cheese. I’m thankful for time with him, and some new found peaceful time for myself. I’m thankful for this blog, which helps me organize my thoughts and emotions. These clumsy words and various photos plucked from my phone twist and turn themselves into posts which help me make some kind of sense of the past, steady my nerves of the present, and offer an encouraging way forward. I look over at my two fish buddies, Shibuki and Mohawk. They stare at me, they look away. They see everything, they see nothing. I know how they feel.

after-the-rain.org / Goldfish

Author: Rainey

after-the-rain.org What started out as chicken scratch notes on the back pages of my boat’s logbook has now grown into a blog. These words and images help me come to terms with a series of events last year centered around living with a loved one struggling with mental illness. Thanks for reading along as I learn about life the hard way, do the best I can for my son in my new role as a single dad, and find weird similarities between restoring an old blue water sailboat and putting the pieces of my own life back together. Come check out my story and say hi!

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