Charlotte and I decide to walk to the lake. The lake is about 10 minutes away, she’s 7, and it’s the first time we’ve walked there together, just the two of us. She’s balancing along a stone wall about four feet above grade, and I’m trying hard to be with her, but I’m at work. I’m also thinking I’ve turned into a model from a Ralph Lauren catalog, it doesn’t feel real or right, and I can’t tell if it’s because of the job and lifestyle we have, or just life in general.
We get to the lake and she wants to walk out on the dock, where we see some ducks in the water and I explain how you can tell the difference between the boy ducks and girl ducks. She chips a piece of ice off the edge, throws it in the water, and they rush in and fight over it like it’s food.
Charlotte’s still talking about it on the way home, and I’m still telling myself to stop thinking about work.
On Sunday, it’s a repeat with my other daughter, Lily. She gives a play-by-play of the latest Disney movie, really follows the architecture of the story by every plot point. I take a picture of her with the dog, under a tree that’s turned red.
We meet at a Park & Ride and drive a few hours away with another couple (no kids), to stay at a hotel that’s rumored haunted, and get drunk. They have a salt water soaking tub there but it’s so windy, our socks get blown in the water and it’s a bitch getting out, getting dressed. I can’t find my glasses in the brush and have to use the flashlight on my phone, which I’ve turned off, so I can disconnect.
The hotel is on several acres with bars, a brewery, distillery, winery, miniature golf course, glass-blowing hut, cigar-smoking shed, organic gardens…an adult’s amusement park. Each bar is playing the same programmed music and we re-enter the playlist as we enter different bars. Chris waves his phone at the ceiling to identify the songs.
I pack the girls’ overnight bags, which is unusual and requires more guidance from Dawn than you would think. I almost have to write it down. I put their clothes in separate plastic bags and write their names on them, and a plastic Easter egg for each of them, with a note inside telling them how much I love them, with small sketches.
I don’t know that they’ll notice the eggs but it’s better not to say anything. When I meet them at the bus the next day, it’s the first thing Charlotte talks about. She’s not disappointed it’s just a note, with no money or candy. She seems to really connect with me then, and it means something to her.
The mid-life crisis is hard to talk about or understand. Names are deceiving. To wish for the days to pass quickly so you can get to the end feels wrong to me. The mid-life crisis is a mid-life awareness, and that’s the problem right now.