August 03, 2008

How much more?

An empty beer glass sits on a table. There is a slight residue of the amber liquid it held just moments before in the bottom of it. I sit there staring into the bottom of the glass contemplating the events of the last two weeks. What protective shell Iíve built up in preparation for this event quickly crumbles around me. Itís time for me to leave the restaurant before I make a mistake.

Just this morning I was at my mother-in-lawís house lying in a bed with my wife. It had been a rough night for me. I couldnít sleep, even though I was tired. I kept thinking of what has happened.

On Saturday the entire family went to Ktrevaís grandfatherís memorial. This was for a man that I liked and respected. He had promised to tell me more stories the next time we saw each other, that time never came. It was unavoidable. Distance, time and health prevented us from getting together again before his passing. Justifying it all I want doesnít make it feel any better. He enjoyed telling me those stories and I loved to listen to them. We bonded over those stories and I feel I robbed him of something there at the end. Truth or not be damned, thatís how I felt.

Thursday I found out that I will be able to return home on August 8th for two weeks. When I return they will be buying me a one way ticket. Not because this is a permanent transfer, but because they arenít sure how long they are going to need me and I really canít come home on the weekends, Iíd have to fly home on Saturday afternoon only to fly back Sunday Afternoon. Itís just not feasible. Since we donít know what is going to happen we donít want to buy a round trip ticket only to cancel my coming home at the end of the week. The tickets are non-refundable. So if I am able to come home for a weekend, they will buy me a round trip ticket from Tulsa to Chicago. At the end of the project they will be me a one way ticket back to Chicago.

Monday night Clone lost his first tooth. I wasnít there for this first milestone in his life. No, I was working when I received the call. The closest I got was to talk to him on the phone and see a picture of a smiling five year old proud of his first lost tooth.

So as I lay in the bed last night, thinking of how my project isnít going well and everything that has happened and what Iíve given up for this, the stress gnawed at me. My stomach problems flared up and I was coughing up and puking stomach acid all night. I wasnít even able to enjoy the simple pleasure of being able to sleep in a bed with my wife. Listening to her breath, feeling the warmth of her body laying next to mine, gazing upon her in all of her beauty and peace as she slept.

Then I left my family. They drove back to Rockford, while I returned to Tulsa. I followed behind them as long as our routes traveled the same path. Watching over them, escorting them, protecting them in what meager manner I was able. Waving at them goodbye knowing that I head back, alone, to someplace where I canít be with them. Returning to a city where I am by myself.

I sat alone in the hotel room alone for a while, smiling in remembrance of my family and what short time I had to spend with them, Less than 40 hours. After a few short minutes it dawns on me that I am, yet again completely alone. No family, no friends, nobody. So went someplace familiar in hopes of trying to take my mind off of things. I drive to Hooters. There I sat down and ordered beer and wings.

All seemed betterÖ for a few short minutes.

Something just didnít seem right. I was there alone. None of the people I usually go to Hooterís with were there. No friends, no family, nobody. I sat there in a restaurant full of people, yet I was alone. Sure there were other people there, but they werenít there with me. They were there with their friends and their families. As I finished that glass of beer it dawned on me. I had prepared for everything except this. I was bored. I was alone. Most importantly, I was depressed.

While Iím down here I have no one. Iíve been working from 6:00AM to as late as 11:30 at night. Yes, most of the time after 6:00PM Iím in the hotel room, but thatís all Iíve been doing. I canít go out for stress release, because there is no one to go with. I canít go with the people that came down with me, for they are my employees. They directly report to me. I canít go out with the local staff because either Iím training them or they are in positions below me. The company discourages fraternization outside of the workplace in this situation. Plus they are all female and Iím not about to put myself into a situation that could kill my career.

So I sat there, looking into the empty beer glass, and all I could think of was, ďWhatís next?Ē

Posted by Contagion in Stories about me. at August 3, 2008 03:40 PM | TrackBack

Ah man... When I drove over-the-road it felt much the same. I always told myself that it won't last forever, & sometimes that even helped.

You've got my number if/when you need an ear. You have my prayers perpetually, as well as those of all your friends.

Just remember what the urologist said about his patient's kidney stones - this too shall pass.

*a weak attempt at humor, but I hope it cracked a grin*

Posted by: Wes at August 3, 2008 10:23 PM

There are so many things I want to say, but know they are just words on a page, not something you need right now.

So if it helps AT ALL, I *DO* know how you feel. Probably more than you realize. You pretty much described much of my life....And I hate that y'all are having to go through this. HATE IT.

It hurts my heart when people I care about hurt.

Posted by: Tammi at August 4, 2008 07:31 AM

Hang in there my brother, I know how you feel,
10 years in the Army with two little kids, Now over the road. It will be over before you know it.
Im pray'n you and family will be at galesburg.

Posted by: Jim E at August 4, 2008 09:11 AM

Just remember that you have a loving family and friends that most people would love to have. This is a small speed bump in the parking lot of life. It too shall pass.

Oh and the Pack sucked total ass last night. Ha!

Posted by: Bruce at August 5, 2008 07:18 PM