Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Moving In Together

My girlfriend & I are moving in together. Well, more accurately, I’m moving in with her. Once we made the decision to live together there really wasn’t much of a choice about how we’d get that accomplished; she has a beautiful large home in a secluded area in the Georgia pines, and I live in a nice, but crowded, area of New Jersey. I could fit my whole house into hers … twice … and still have room.

         Jersey Porch

Georgia Porch

Of course, there were many more factors other than the house to consider:

  • I’m retiring, and she’s not quite there yet
  • She has grandchildren (and a daughter/SIL) living across the street. I have no grandkids
  • Her whole family (another married son, sisters, parents, more grandkids) lives in very close proximity (by GA standards). My family is pretty scattered and scattering even further as I type this
  • She loves her, well, everything, in Georgia. The house, the area, her life there, while I am fairly blasé about NJ. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a Jersey guy for a long time, but this state has its share of issues and I’m not sorry to be leaving. I will miss my daughter, but she can come visit as often as she’d like … I’m publicly offering to pay for her flights, so there will be no excuses
  • It’s drastically cheaper to live in Georgia
  • My “real” job has always been as a musician. The jazz music scene here in NJ area is quite poor, but the Atlanta area is actually quite active. That gives me room to go back to what I love to do; teach, write, arrange and do some recording. Those possibilities exist down south, but not here

After those points were considered (for about 13 seconds), the idea of Jersey life together was pretty much squashed. That was fine with me, I’m ready for a complete change after the past several years. I’ve grown more disillusioned with everything that has been happening in my life and, in truth, the only thing that kept me here this long was Bunny’s business, which obviously came to an end when she died.

During our recent “living together test run trial #1”, we selected some space in the home for me to put all of my junk. And I’m really not bringing much stuff down, just my basses (yeah, there are a lot and they do take up space) and music studio equipment, a few computers that I’ll be using for my “I’m Going To Write A Book Someday” work and for some part-time consulting I’ll be doing for my didn’t-I-just-retire job. We went through the house and selected some spots where I can be out of her way while she works (she works remotely, either from home or occasional travel), as well as keeping my Jersey junk out of the way of family and company.

My furniture and other worldly possessions will remain in the Jersey house for the time being until we figure out what to do with all of it. Really, I’m not very tied to any of it, no emotional bonds or anything like that, so as far as I’m concerned it can all be sold, donated, tossed, stolen, whatever.  I’ll have my basses, my clothes, my computers and my dog … I’ll be moving in with a beautiful soul who is opening up her life to me to share with her … I’ll be leaving behind some dark and unpleasant memories of the past several years … Not really difficult choices to make, huh?

While it’s a done deal, we’re still proceeding ahead with “living together test run trial #2” to take place at the end of the month. And then a longer, final “living together test run trial #3” a week later, which is most likely a “lockup the jewelry, the Jersey guy is here” warning call to the neighbors.

Really, these “trials” are just for our internal chuckles. There is no question that we are a very good match, no question that this will all work out wonderfully, and absolutely no question that spending the rest of our lives together in Georgia is the exact right thing to do.

But there better be a good pizza joint nearby ….. and it can't be a Domino's, either

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Bringing The Family Along

I just spent an extended weekend with my girlfriend (yes, I’m using the “girlfriend” thing regularly now) at her home down south, sort of a quasi-trial run (trial run 1 of a potential 3) (maybe trial run 1 of a potential 4) (or possibly trial run 1 of a potential 2 … things went very well …) to see how we would actually get along if we were living together. There was never a big doubt that all would be good, but, hey, as we all know, the bouncing ball of widow-dom can go just about anywhere.

So we spent an extended weekend living her life, doing what she would do on any normal Friday-to- Tuesday span. That included visiting her ailing parents a couple of times, going to see the grandkids playing baseball and other organized activities, a fascinating trip to the local food store (something that garnered quite a few chuckles since apparently southerners only refer to them as “grocery” stores and not the Jersey default “food” store), a dinner out at a local, very freshly made, restaurant (really excellent!!), cooking at home several times, going to a party for a work friend, doing laundry … in other words, living her life.

                           Jersey - Food?                                      Georgia - Food?

We found out some stuff about each other that we hadn’t known:

  • Finding the clutch release point in 1st gear on her car was a bit of a challenge (I’m fairly sure I’ll be replacing her transmission at some point in the future)
  •  She gets a bit too much joy in listening to my New Jersey variations-on-a-theme, particularly as it pertains to pronunciation (although even down south the sign says “Publix – Food – Pharmacy”, not “Publix – Groceries – Pharmacy”). I, on the other hand, was a perfect gentleman with her combined So Cal/Georgia utterances – but she’s really attractive and even though I’m from Jersey I’m not “stoopid” (note the Jersey-ized twist?) enough to blow that opportunity for the sake of pronunciation
  • We have far more in common than we had ever thought, including a passing interest in quantum physics and other sort-of odd categories (repairing old clocks, getting up while it’s still quite dark outside, eclectic home décor and much more) that don’t randomly crop up until you spend some concentrated time together
  • We’re both pretty deliberate with larger financial expenditures, really weighing pros/cons
  • We both laugh, a lot, over things others likely wouldn’t find amusing. We also both laugh, a lot, at our own shortcomings
And we also have no intention of leaving our lost spouses behind as this new relationship solidifies. Both of us had relationships that we cherished, and I’ve written in the past how both of us had similar experiences along the way to becoming widowed. We had previously discussed, many times, how we intended to “bring” our departed spouses to this new coupling and over these past several days of “Getting to Know All About You” (borrowing a phrase from Julie Andrews in The King & I) we spent some time discussing that integration.

For us, as newly widowed people, moving into a new relationship is entering unchartered territory. So we’re being careful to let each other know what is important and what is not (“food store” vs “grocery store” is NOT important!), and being sure that our deceased partners stay with us is way up high on both of our lists. We also both carry the horrible stigma of having lost a son before they were 30, and our boys are also coming with us as we kick-start our new life together.

So, yup, we’re bringing the family along with us. We’ve set some boundaries that we both easily agreed upon, and we’re letting some stuff go and keeping some other stuff. Luckily, neither of us is the jealous type, so having a picture as a constant reminder is not oppressive for either of us and routine re-telling of memories (both great and sometimes not-so-great) can be shared without a problem. We’ve decided that there are some areas where it will just be us and not the rest of the family and we both know that might take some adjustment but we’re vowing to work it out.

We can’t take relationships like we had and just cast them aside, but we also can’t let them hold us back from pushing on with a new and lovely life together. We realize we’re blessed to have found each other and that we are so compatible in all of these ways.

And, really, doesn’t “food store” make so much more sense?? Or is that just my Jersey leaking out again?