Monday, August 31, 2015

Dog days and transition phase

Since when did August, the epitome of those lazy, hazy days of summer, become a roller coaster ride?

We followed Earbaby's summer month of dance immediately with a week away in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It had been quite a few years since we had gone to this place as a family and it was nice to get away for a full week of doing nothing. Through the generosity of my in-laws we had a really nice condo to ourselves. It started out a little bumpy though, which should have told us nothing was going to go smoothly this final month of summer.

EB invited Delilah to accompany us again on this trip. Since the condo could comfortably sleep three in the bottom floor alone, she actually invited several friends to join us and we were prepared for that. Unfortunately most of her friends had summer jobs so they couldn't get away and her other closest friend, Brenda, had summer school. Still, EB was happy Delilah could come along and they already started making plans for swimming and hanging out by the pool.

The bump in the road was huge. The day before, Delilah's mother told her she couldn't go. There was no rhyme or real reason. She had said yes before, then decided that her daughter spent too much time with her friends, wanted to sleep over her friends' houses, but never invited them to hers, hadn't gotten her summer homework done, was planning on going somewhere with her later that summer and just decided she wanted her to stay home. She offered to pay the money for the tickets we had bought for a train ride to the top of Mount Washington, but she couldn't be convinced that it was cruel and unfair to throw this particular monkey wrench into the vacation plans the day before. It was too late to invite someone else. The girls were devastated, and although I held my tongue, I was livid. The mom promised the next time Delilah was invited to go with us, she would give her permission. Now I like the girl very much, but there will be no more invitations. I refuse to be held hostage by unstable human beings, even if that person has managed to give birth to a perfectly lovely daughter.

EB took the news better than we did. We were so afraid she would be bored (and therefore crabby) that it would ruin the vacation for all of us. Yes, she was somewhat bored and crabby (she hated the train ride and the moose safari) but we got our nails done and we both managed to binge watch Netflix so we were satisfied.

And there were bears. One afternoon after my husband and I came back from a short trip I realized I left my bag in the car with the windows open. Although there weren't any people around, and we were headed right back out, I thought it wasn't a good idea to leave my money and ID in the car for anyone to happen to come along and look in. As I stepped outside, I looked right at a full-grown mama black bear with three cubs, not even 20 feet in front of me. She looked at me, looked bored and kept on her journey toward the back of the condo where there was a huge yard that spilled onto a meadow below. The balcony on our condo looked out over the yard, so she was below us as she walked. I shut the door and couldn't get the words out of my mouth. "Get up, get up, get up," I said to EB, who was on the couch. "Come look!" She stepped out on the balcony to see mom and the little ones. Then my husband came upstairs from the first floor. "Bears!" I said. "Where?" he said, with his eyes wide. He stepped out and saw baby bear number four climbing down the tree five feet in front of us. I hadn't seen that one. We took film and pictures, but maintained a respectful distance and silence as mom and the four little ones made their way down into the meadow.

Later that evening we saw a deer languidly walking down the road in the same complex. My husband saw a few wild turkeys one day and mama bear and the four babies made another appearance another night. With that and the five or six moose we saw, it was a fully enjoyable animal week.

That week was followed by a trip to my hometown with EB. Her dad didn't want to miss a second straight week of work so she and I took off to visit her cousins and aunts. That week was less animal filled (bold fat squirrels don't really count as wildlife) but EB was her usual pill when we go to see my mother. See, there's not a lot to do, and when there is, no one can get themselves together in a timely fashion to do it. I've learned to go with the flow, this was just a yearly trip to see my mother that coincided with Zoe's visit from South Korea. EB insisted she had to see her last remaining grandparent, yet spent a majority of her time holed up in a room or on the couch plugged either into her phone or her computer. When she complained about it when we returned home, I informed her that she was staying home next year.

But we were never prepared for the third week. My husband near the end of the week was ushered into his manager's office and a person from human resources came in as they informed him his services were no longer needed. It came as the biggest shock ever. When he called me, he had already left the office -- he had been given a two-week termination notice but was told he could leave immediately, which he did -- and we met at a park where I go to walk the dog. We talked. He was stunned, but taking it well, which I attributed to shock. What do you do when you're laid off although you're told it's not a performance-based decision?

He would still get a year's pay with full benefits, a generous compensation package. But this was not in our life's plans. For the next few days he got numerous calls and emails from coworkers throughout the building expressing their outrage and dismay. People reached out to the president of the company and the chief operating officer. A petition was circulated expressing support. In the meantime, my husband took advantage of the new YMCA membership, sought counsel from close friends, relatives and former colleagues, and we set about figuring out what moves he would make for his next career.

He didn't get far in his planning. Exactly one week later, just as he was getting into the morning routine of the gym and preparing to have an attorney look at his termination papers before he signed them, he got a call. Apparently there was enough of an outcry (which was unprecedented) that the powers that be realized, yes, he is too valuable to lose. A little financial maneuvering, he'll be paid out of one department instead of the one he had been in, and he will be back at work, doing the same job. His first thought was to move on, he had already started to disconnect. But that termination actually was taken off the table, we realized, so the choice really wasn't his to make.

We thought we would be transitioning to another chapter in his work life. EB had adjusted after her initial despair. She was sad, but supportive and realized she would have more time with her dad as the summer came to a close. Turns out, that only lasted a week. Now the transition is emotional instead of physical. How do you feel after you were unceremoniously dismissed? I reminded him he's not the one who should feel uncomfortable, he's not the one with egg on his face.

But as we all readjust to the new/old career, we're all exhausted from this summer. The roller coaster of dance injuries, disappointment in vacations, layoffs, lay-ons, is coming to an end. Thankfully. I think all three of us are ready to get off this ride.

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