Moving is hard work.  Diana and I both are tired.  I've been working very hard on my job--not so much long hours as intense thought and intense interactions.  Being a manager again is good, but it's one more change on top of a lot of other ones.  Diana and I collapsed right after dinner, with the result that I awoke early this morning.  Looking outside and seeing that it was light, I got up before discovering that it was 4:45 AM!  It's summer and the days are longer, but this is rather more than I bargained for.  

And the weather has finally become summer.  Thunderstorms and hot sticky weather.  Thank God we got the house air conditioned or it would be too much.  Yson and Eson are continuing to marvel at the non-California nature of Nature out here.  They ran out into a thunderstorm the other day screaming about how warm the water was.  "You can take a shower in this stuff!"  In California, rain is always cold.  They listened to a short lecture by me about the Gulf Stream with barely concealed teen-aged boredom.  They did perk up a bit, and probably listened better, when I discussed the wisdom of running around outside in a thunderstorm.

Eson is starting to make some friends, but it's a mixed blessing.  Last Friday, no sign of him after school.  It gets later.  Then at six, when Diana is beside herself, he calls.  He's out with some friends.  Having dinner.  Don't worry.  He's going out.  Back at midnight...

Well, actually he was back at quarter of eleven.  He went with these friends to a park--his friend's father dropped him off, and was to pick them up at midnight.  They walked into the park and met some friends.  They had made a fire in a picnic area.  Eson began to get a bit worried about the whole thing.  His friend went off to walk another friend to her car, and didn't come back.  He and another friend didn't much like what was going on and set off to find his first friend.  Walking around in the dusk without a flashlight, they ran into the police, coming to break up the party.  When they and the police got back to the fire, there were only two people there--the rest had fled into the night.  The police questioned them, and found some pot on one of the girls.  It got quite tense.  Actually, the cops were wonderful.  They scared the shit out of the kids and let them go.  Eson got home shaking.  The cops said they would call his parents the next day.  So he spilled the beans.  Of course, they didn't call.  Diana debriefed him for an hour and a half at midnight, while I slept.  Then she got back to bed, a wreck.   So I debriefed her for an hour from 1 to 2 AM--I'm not sure she would have slept otherwise.  Told her tale after tale of how my kids got into similar scrapes.  I've been there.  In fact, I recalled a few things from my own youth...

Kids who are good all the time deprive themselves of so many learning experiences!

One difference between New England and California is that there are a number of companies out here that have the word 'Frugal' in their names.  I don't think I remember seeing that word in California, certainly not in a company name.

So when Eson went to the prom several weeks ago, he threw himself on Diana's mercy and requested help buying flowers.  Diana went to a local florist called "Frugal Florist".  Eson was appalled when he found out.  "You didn't!" he screamed.  "That's not really the name, is it?"   Diana is such an enchanting mixture of frugality and a taste for elegance.

One of the saddest conversations I ever had was shortly after I met her, when we were friends but married, albeit unhappily, to other people.  We met for lunch, and were taking a walk in a nice neighborhood when we came upon a beautiful little house.  "Would you like to live in a house like this?" I asked.  Her response was to stand mute.  It became clear that, in dealing with two ADD kids, an alcoholic husband, and being the breadwinner for the household, she had lost touch with what she wanted.  She had given up her dreams.  It was too painful to even contemplate living a better life.  

Watching that change in her has been one of my deepest joys.  She now is a charming, sometimes exasperating, mixture of frugality and lusting for opulence.  She oohs and aahs when we pass 5 million dollar houses on 10 acres in town, talks about how we could do this or that if our house were bigger, and then spends all morning shopping and buys a pair of jeans for $4.  Her desire to be a princess, a treasured pampered creature, which was ruthlessly suppressed as a child and never awaked in her first marriage, is alive and well now.  If I can keep from feeling that I need to take another 3 jobs so I can buy her a $5 million house, I actually find it charming.  It's a stage.  A lifetime of self denial is breaking up, and it will take a while for her to get comfortable with her own desires.  She has a lot of self-denial to make up for.  If at times she seems demanding or impractical, it's part of the price.  And I pay it willingly.

Thank you for reading.

Copyright © 2002 Pete Stevens. All rights reserved.