1 AM Thoughts

July 14, 2003

It's 1 am and I am up because I am afraid of my cat and I am mad at her.

Our new kitten is quite the bundle of energy and attitude. At night she attacks anything that moves; roll over in bed and you are going to get multiple puncture wounds from her teeth and claws. Repeatedly dropping her on the floor only causes her to stop for a little while. I know that she is only a kitten of 5 months or so but she is starting to terrorize me.

In truth I know that a 4 pound kitten can't really hurt me. Her bites and scratches are annoying to be sure, but they aren't really serious. It's more the startle factor and the suddenness of her attacks that is disturbing. One second you are sound asleep and the next your foot or hand is being mauled.

I also know that I am over reacting to her high spirits because she is an easy place to put my increasing sense of helplessness and anxiety. Knowing that, unless a miracle happens in the next few days, we will have to sell this house and move, is really starting to wear me down. I knew when we moved back to Illinois that it was a temporary thing. I just thought we'd get to stay here longer.

I think we have been making it worse on ourselves by trying the wait this situation out hoping for a way to stay. Waiting puts me at the mercy of the state and its whims. It is reactive rather than proactive. This afternoon Michele and I talked seriously about putting the house up for sale as soon as possible. On the one hand this action feels good as we are doing something, on the other hand it is very hard to take because it means we are leaving.

Once again we are faced with uprooting our lives and moving. Oh how I hate the word "moving." We've moved three times since getting married 6 years ago. Illinois to Washington state, Washington state to South Carolina, and finally South Carolina back to Illinois. We set a new longevity record here this time. It'll be three years this October since our lives were inside a moving van.

In the time that we've been here I've faced my family and grown as a result. I no longer try to take care of them at my expense. The new relationship with them is just starting to gel and feel normal to me. Now I am going to radically change it. My parents are in their late seventies, and my brothers children are growing up fast. Leaving now means losing precious time with them.

It already feels like I've lost so much time with my family. The emotional separation that has existed since Amy's death has been in place for years. Now for the first time I can see a future without this gulf between us. And I am faced with moving away.

I want to be able to stay here, close to my family. I don't want to be thousands of miles away. But I can't stay here with no employment prospects. And we aren't attracted to other cities in the mid-west. I don't want to move only to be unhappy with a new city.

So, you see, there is a lot of stuff going on inside my head and heart these days. Big decisions to make that will have tremendous impacts on the rest of my life. No right or wrong answers, just degrees of comfort and pain. At times, like 1 am, I get overwhelmed and don't know how to take my next breath.

This is why it is easy to blame our sweet little kitten for being too aggressive and too full of attitude. It is easy to make her the culprit because she can't fight back and she loves me anyway. I guess my inner child, little-Mark, is afraid of losing the love of my family if I move away from them again. For reasons outside of our distance from here, the last year in South Carolina put tremendous strain on my relationship with my parents and brother. What if moving away strains those ties again? What if those ties are broken?

1 am is an awful time.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.