Saturday, August 11, 2018

Summer

Long Point State Park at Dusk, 2017
For many people, summer is a time for relaxation, family vacations, to regroup and recharge. As a teacher, I can count on one hand the times I have worked during the summer- though I should (my wallet can attest to that!). Living in Western NY, I ought to look forward to the summer and, in some ways, I do. Not having to wake up early or to get the kids out of the house by a certain time is nice. The weather is incredible and saying goodbye to wearing socks and layers of clothes is heaven. Another perk of the good weather is that my husband gets to call more often. Since the phones at the prison are located outside in the "yard," he's able to call without worrying about the elements. The little things...

In other ways I don't look forward to summer. I get anxious because my routine is disrupted and I feel like I'm doing nothing. I stop earning a salary so I feel like I'm not being a good parent or a good wife. I am fully aware that this is a temporary state, but it can feel overwhelming. It is frustrating because, here I have all of the time in the world (two months), during which I can visit my husband and do things I never have time to do during the school year; except now I am living on such a tight budget that I can't afford to anything. My aunt is also an educator and she put it our particular situation in a way I had never really considered; she said that 'we are not on vacation during the summer... we are unemployed!' True, so each summer I get to visit my husband maybe once or twice and do a whole lot of stay-cationing because I suck at saving money during the months I am employed! Sigh :(  Same story, different summer. So here I am again... throwing myself a pity party and you are all invited!

The other day, my husband told me that he has a 'bucket list.' He began mentioning things he wants to do when he comes home. "I want to go swimming and I want to go camping, ride a bike, go to the movies..." the list went on. Soon I realized that his bucket list was just a list; he even mentioned getting a job. I sat there and suddenly my pity party was over. We talked about the trips we want to take when he's home and the places we will visit. We envision a future where daily life is full of teamwork and communication and we talk about how we will overcome the challenges we are sure to face. That, is our bucket list.

Visiting directly from a camping trip, 2018

We are both ready for this nightmare to be over. Him there, me here, both suffering. This summer makes 24 that he has missed in our family's lives. That's a whole lot of camping, swimming, going to the drive-in, s'mores by the fire, catching fireflies, road-trips, sand on your toes, ice cream at the beach and watching the kids growing up. As we get closer to the end of the tunnel, my husband and I talk more and more about our plans. We focus on what's to come, not on what he has missed (no worries, he gets many, many pictures).

One more thing that happens each summer is my birthday (actually both, my husband and I have summer birthdays; he-June, me-July). As a child, summer was synonymous with my birthday and I loved it!Now? It's complicated! Of course, I'm thankful for another year of life, but the years have a funny way of taking a toll on ya... I visited my husband yesterday and today and his beard is getting full of grey. As I looked at him I thought about how we have changed over the years. We are not the young couple that took that first picture in 1994! I worry about his health because he doesn't get the medical care that he needs. He has asked to be seen by a doctor for various symptoms, including glaucoma treatment, but he hasn't been called. He assures me that he takes care of himself but still I worry. With each birthday I seem to get new aches and pains... I know he must be feeling the same way! Our 20's and 30's are gone... now our 40's are zooming by! I wonder if time will slow down when he finally comes home. Will summers last longer when there's a bucket list to get through? Maybe then summer will be the fun and magical time I remember it to be.


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