Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Owners Manual

I would have to say that like any story there are usually at least three versions.  That's because in any relationship  each person is having a minimum of three within that commerce. First there is how one projects themselves to you. second there is how you perceive that projection. Third is who that person really is, which that person might only be marginally aware of. With the sudden rush of life changes that happened in a short span, perhaps neither I nor the Planet had a clue who or where we were.

It was certainly a huge change for the Planet. One might say it had global implications. The ravages of child birth on a body are something that a male cannot, never will, and has no reason to want to imagine. Empathy has it's limits. Perhaps I was even less empathetic than some. After all I wasn't consulted on the commencement of the parenting. Girl friend soon to be wife stops taking pills without warning is a guaranteed pregnant Planet. Although I never brought it up and rarely thought about it, perhaps that was the first of the constantly multiplying three hundred pound gorillas that inhabited mine and the Planets universe.

I certainly love those little sputnik's.

So within two years my reality had altered. The inventory of  my life's concerns multiplied, I might add, in many wonderful ways. To have two healthy sons, a new home to live in, a dog (hound from hell though she may have been), and a spouse who would always reply “I love you too”, I figured I had achieved the American dream. Of course the implications of always hearing “I love you too” were lost on me at the time.

Daily travel from the heart of Indiana was a minimum of one hour each way, and that only after the Planet had gotten her brand new leased Jeep Cherokee. Because to travel the wild and woolly SS line usually made commute door to door a minimum of two hours each way. Driving not only cut that time to half but it also freed me from the mercy of the SS schedule, which gets sparser and sparser as the evening wears on. Miss a train and you now add an additional hour or two of away time at the best of times.

The separation by time and geography may not seem like much, and there are many that make the same a part of their business day. We all have to get to where the most advantageous commerce can be transacted. That's why we are able to outsource so many of our jobs. The lure of cheap labor has always been the motivation for expansion and colonization. Thus Indiana was always a perfect source for the Chicago area. Since most industry jobs are gone from Indiana, over the years I saw the numbers of people boarding that last inter-city electric rail line increase ten fold from what it had been at the outset.

Perhaps they were drawn out there to the Planet. Gravitational forces still have a many mysteries for us all.

Funny how easy it is to fool yourself into believing that everything is all right. Sometimes when you have the least amount of time and are the busiest, there is absolutely no chance to mull over whether you are happy or not. As crazy as those years were, I know now as I knew then that they were happy years. I can only speak for myself, because I now know that I can only be sure of, and responsible for my own happiness. Enjoy the journey because if enjoyment is contingent on an outcome, joy becomes a rare commodity.

Journeys there were many. Every day was a journey and as it becomes routine the weeks make you weary and months make more mundane occurrences a blur. Being one of the landed gentry in Hoosierville, yet spending most of my waking hours in the cement canyons of a major rust belt city often made me feel a bit disjointed. Having grown up being able to walk to the corner store , corner restaurant, corner bar, corner of the universe made me even more sensitive to the vacuum of the Indiana population density. But what population is there feels much the same about Chicago people as Chicago people feel about them. Us against them proliferates on the planet, whether you bring your own Planet or not.

For a city boy surrounded by the contrasts of the natural beauty and industrial scars of northwest Indiana, with it's lack of urban diversions, cultural diversity, as well as it's just plain sub suburban environment left me at a loss for diversions. Maintaining a household with expansive yard and home repairs kept me occupied over the weekends when the call of commerce didn't take me away. The constant demands and search for a balance between family and career eluded me mercilessly.

To make matters worse , as any new parent will tell you , children do not come with an owners manual.

Neither did the Planet.
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