Monday, October 25, 2004

A Walk to Remember

I really need to start taking three day weekends as Monday mornings are even more painful than usual these days. When I was married, I liked to come to work. My weekends tended to be boring and full of disagreements and the office was refuge. After my ex-wife and I split, I volunteered to take care of my stepchildren. Sadly, this resulted in me being tied to the house each weekend, and it left me no time to enjoy myself and spend time with the people I truly wanted to be with. Since my ex-wife started taking care of her son again, I've found myself with a lot of free time, so over the past few weekends I've been keeping busy and enjoying the fact that for the first time in years I don't have to worry about being home to care for the kids. I'm still not doing the things I truly want to be doing, but at least it keeps me from sitting at home feeling sorry for myself, and wishing that I had been able to change things just a little more quickly.

Anyway, Friday night was spent relaxing and lounge hopping. Is that even the correct phrase? It doesn't sound laid back enough. I think it should be something more like "lounge tripping" or "lounging." Anyway, we started at the Kat Walk in midtown and steadily worked our way downtown making several stops along the way, including a cool place called Fuelray, before landing on the inviting velvet couches - and seeing some interesting things - in the back lounge of a place called the Fat Black Pussycat.

Otherwise, it was another fall weekend spend outdoors. . The weather was a little cold and damp, so we decided to forgo our climb and went hiking instead. It could not have been any more beautiful or tranquil. The fall colors were in full bloom, and the dried leaves crunched under our feet as we tramped through the trails. We met some nice people along the way, and shared part of the walk with them before we branched out on a more challenging part of the trail. The hike should have taken a few hours, but it took us a lot longer because we kept stopping to explore side trails, or to sit and talk and just enjoy the quiet and solitude of the woods. At the top of the hill, we sat with our legs dangling over the ledge as we ate lunch and admired the breathtaking panorama and the palette of colors spread before us.

Afterwards, we sat at a picnic bench to rest and talk for a while before the long ride home. During one of these conversations, we began to sketch out tentative plans to climb El Cap in Yosemite Park at some point next year. From what I hear, it's a grueling three to four day climb, and I'm not sure I'm anywhere near experienced enough to even think about attempting it. The fact that two climbers died in a freak snowstorm last week gives me even more cause for concern. That said, the thought of accomplishing a climb like that is appealing, and I'm going use it as motivation to practice climbing and to continue to get in shape. Between that climb and my plans to go to jump school and diving school in the spring, I'm beginning to wonder if I have some sort of death wish. More likely, this is just a function of me doing all of the things that I would have loved to do over the past ten years, but couldn't because I was busy taking care of my ex-wife and her children. I don't feel as if I have to make up for lost time, but I do want to enjoy the rest of my life and to see and do as much as possible. Its been a pretty rough few months, but thinking about being in the woods helps me to fight off the work-week stress. When I look at the pictures I took, I remember that anything that happens in the office isn't really important, and that sometimes getting away to take your mind off of things is the best form of therapy.

I also went furniture shopping this weekend. I'm moving to a new apartment in a few weeks, and I'm getting rid of all of my old furniture in an effort to completely close the book on my past. Because I don't trust my own taste - I often buy things only to wonder later what the hell I was thinking when I did - I took along a friend to offer advice and counsel and to provide a reality check against impulse purchases. She had her three year old niece in tow and seemingly every sales person who approached us felt obligated to comment on how cute "our daughter" was and to ask annoyingly intrusive questions about her before proceeding to bore us with stories about their children. More amusing was the fact that the male salespeople would ask about my "wife" or my "girlfriend" in an attempt to determine if we were together. When they found we were just friends, they would invariably spend the rest of the time talking to her and vainly trying to impress her by showing how good they were with her niece before giving her their business cards and thoughtfully writing their cell phone numbers on the back in case she had any questions for them. At least this left me alone to shop without worrying about them trying to force me to buy things I'm not sure I want.

It makes me incredibly sad to think about the fact that the odds are stacked squarely against me fathering any children. I love children and I always imagined that by this point in my life I would have two or three of my own. To fill the void, I like to spend time with my ever growing cadre of nieces and nephews. Because of this, I am pretty comfortable with kids. When people bring their children to work, they tend to gravitate towards my office and spend time in here playing with the toys I have, and telling me about themselves. Of course, you can't spend too much time with them as there is always work to be done (although I do tend to avoid a lot of it by IMing and Blogging every day) Besides, there is a fine line between being viewed as a nice guy who is good with children, and being the creepy guy who likes children just a little too much.

My little sister had a baby recently, which means that I'm the only member of my family who doesn't have children of his own. This leads to the inevitable question at every family gathering - "You are so good with children. When are you going to have some of your own?" I used to answer with "Don't be silly, men can't have babies," but now I simply reply "Looks like never." Fortunately, they tend to stop asking after they hear that.