It’s 6AM on the 4th of July and I’m waking up after about 7 hours of sleep to a clean, quiet, empty house. The perfect place to start my day of reflection.
The kids went to their dads house late yesterday afternoon and aside from Jazzercise, gym time, and planting some newly acquired flowers in the garden, I spent much of my day cleaning the house so I could just enjoy this whole week without having to look at a mess. I even vacuumed, which is rare for me.
If I’m being honest (and really, that’s my MO here), I also wanted the house clean in case I have a houseguest this week. I’m not saying it is inevitable, but I think highly likely. We’ll see. But today is not a day for thinking about such things. Today is a day for reflection.
Historically the 4th of July was a big day for Brian and I. Not the entire time we were married, but certainly since we had children. We had our big white house (no fence) in a great neighborhood and had achieved what’s supposed to be the pinnacle of the “American Dream”. Two great kids, two good careers, two nice cars, and pretty much set for a wonderful future, except the fact that “we” were broken.
I’m not going to dive into the details of why that is here. Some of that is well beyond the bounds of what I am willing to share. Needless to say, it had to come to an end and so it did. People on the outside looking in (which was really almost everyone), were shocked at the separation and the divorce because our lives appeared perfect. That’s because we don’t, as a society, let people see the reality of things. We only let people see the silver, polished-to-perfection side.
In 2008 I came to the realization that something had to change. In 2009 I finally built up the courage to do something about it and moved out and filed for divorce. On March 15, 2010 our divorce was final. It took that long. Sometimes I think about breaking up with Matt in 2016 and wonder why I’m still feeling the sting of things, but putting it into a frame next to my marriage and divorce, it’s not that long. That perspective is good because it’s a reminder that all things take time. Life is long and hard, and nothing is simple and instantaneous.
Anyway, the 4th was a holiday that grew bigger and bigger as time went on. We were the house party and the neighborhood fireworks show. Toward the end, I swear Brian’s goal was to outdo our neighbor down the street who was a certified fire fighter and had a license to buy and shoot off that big shit. We would take a road trip to Missouri to get the goods. He would spend hours wiring it all up so it would go off in a continuous bursts without having to be lit. We had all of our friends and family over for the event. It wasn’t just for fireworks, it was for the entire day.
We would have tables of food and his mom would bring over all sorts of activities for the kids, Z and C had lots of cousins on Brian’s side and they would run around the yard in swimsuits for hours. We even bought a giant bounce-house size slide which was over the top ridiculous. We would eat for hours and hours and then when the sun went down, the fireworks would start. All the neighbors would bring out their lawn chairs as well. It was a spectacle. It was fun, but at the same time, it grew to be too much. I wanted to dial it back but we did not agree on that. It was one of many things we did not agree on.
When we were divorced, I gladly gave up custody of that holiday. I did not want any part of it anymore. The kids still love it and it makes for some wonderful childhood memories, so when we drew up our parenting plan, I was OK with writing in that he could have the kids every 4th of July, so long as I got halloween every year. That was seven years ago. Now, I’m solo on the 4th and have started my own tradition.
Every year I hop on my bike and ride the keystone trail. My goal has always been to connect to the Bellevue loop and make it to the Missouri river, but I’ve never made it all the way. To be honest, I am not sure how close I have ever gotten because I’ve refused to look it up on a map. It’s like an adventure, exploring an unknown path when you don’t know how far it is, where it goes, and when it ends. I mean, I know where it ends but not really where it ends. Kind of like life.
Mostly my issue has been time, and not giving myself enough time or not knowing how long it is and not wanting to be out after dark when the war on silence begins. I’ve started out sometime in the afternoon with my backpack of snacks and supplies and headed southeast from a trail entry point on 66th and Harrison. I don’t ride fast, because I don’t like to and so I take my time. I listen to my music and spend that time reflecting on what my life was and what it is. It’s such a great atmosphere for being in ones own head to really dig into life. A wonderful time to reflect. And I have more to think about than I ever have before.
Today I’m starting at my house instead. I’ll get on Papio trail in Papillion which connects with the Keystone and make my way to Bellevue from there. This will keep me from having to load my bike in my car, which isn’t as easy as it used to be because I no longer have the Escape with the bike rack on the back. I went to the store last night for a few things and so I’ll be ready to go anytime. I’m going to start earlier, in the hopes of actually making it all the way to the river this year. Again, we’ll see.
In any case, it’s still early now and I have lots of options for what to do with my morning. The birds are singing out my window so going back to sleep is probably out of the question. Time to get up and get moving.
Cheers to 7 Years,