Maybe, but not so fast. Tory moved back to Colorado, and we continued to see each other. Over the next two years, I felt like an emotional cripple trying to limp up a rocky, tortuous path to a new relationship. I read books about rebound relationships (warning women never to date a man until he's been divorced for a year) and concluded that I couldn't move seamlessly from marriage to new relationship. A friend offered sage advice when I told him that Tory and I were having trouble getting on the same relationship page. "Of course you are," he said. "You guys are in different time zones."
So we struggled. Rebecca went AWOL, moving to the coast and calling the kids only infrequently that first year. I rarely wanted to leave the kids to go on dates with Tory, revolving my life around their schedules and not exactly being the most spontaneous and open partner. Bob's sickness and death consumed whatever heart I had left.
Finally, when I started planning this trip with the kids, I told Tory that I would need to head off as a single dad, as a single man.
Then I wanted her to come along.
Then I didn't.
Then I wanted her to come along for part of the time.
I was maddening.
Just weeks before leaving, I proposed a thoroughly uncomfortable compromise: I would leave with the freedom of a single man, but she would join us in Bali six weeks into the trip. We were both free in the meantime, but we held hopes that we could be together during the trip and beyond.
It was wildly unrealistic and, from my point of view, completely necessary.
From Tory's point of view, it was simply unrealistic and painful.
What I needed more than anything was this: the illusion that I was single, carefree, flirtatious, and available. My relationship with Rebecca had lasted seventeen years, and I had moved almost immediately into another monogamous relationship with Tory. I didn't trust it, couldn't discern if I was turning to Tory out of loneliness and fear or had truly found a too-lucky-to-believe new love. I needed to rediscover who I was again, not who I was in relationship with a woman. I wasn't at all sure whether, or when, I'd be ready to enter into another pairing.
The day before we left, I gathered the kids into a circle with me in my bedroom with a picture of Bob in the center. It is a difficult picture to look at, taken months before he died. He is braced on a walking stick, his hair and beard grown back thick but his legs skinny, his face thin but not yet gaunt. But he is dying in the picture, I can see that now. I reminded Kolya and Zoe of what I had said at Uncle Bob's memorial service: People who die live on in the memories of those who loved them. In many ways, Bob's death had inspired this trip, and I wanted to take a moment with the kids to dedicate our trip to his memory. Kolya, teen and rebellious about anything that seemed New Age (he called it "ooga-chucka"), still grasped my offered hand and took Zoe's when I offered it with a nod. Zoe held my hand and her brother's, looking solemnly at each of us in turn.
We stood for a moment, spontaneous tears welling together, our circle of three, and lit some candles.
To Bob, then.
I arranged with the kids' schools to bring math homework, to make sure they read, and to have them write regularly in trip diaries. In an attempt to habituate them to journaling, I compelled them to write a pre-trip entry at my parents' house in California a few days before we left for Australia.
Kolya's enthusiastic first entry:
This is making me pretty pissed off, I hate writing for no reason, and my dad is being such a dick about it, god. I know I'll love looking back on this, but I just don't want to right now. I am ok with writing in this journal, I even want to, because I'll love it when I'm older, but it might be a problem for me to write in it on a day to day basis. This is a pretty important entry in my dad's opinion, so I'm gonna simmer down and write how I am feeling about leaving.
Copyright 2003 by Daniel Glick. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the publisher PublicAffairs.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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