First and last parts of Chapter 3 - introducing Nicholas
My clothes are still in boxes and my business cards aren’t back from the printers but I’ve already had my first face-off with the crotchetiest of Vineyard City councilors. Who do these yokels think they are anyway? I’m proposing something that will put money in their pockets and breathe some life in to this hicky little town. Instead of being grateful they act like I’m offending them for suggesting the town could use the revenue for things like sidewalks, an updated water treatment plant and maybe even pay for some police officers. Not that the volunteers don’t do a fine job, but come on. The one officer on duty gets called to deal with everything from the classic cat in tree scenario to—this is no lie—goat roping.
True story. Our first week in town I was walking around Main Street with Isabella, my youngest, scoping out the pool and park when I saw a uniformed officer chasing a goat around the park with a rope dangling desperately from his right hand. Kids looked on calling out instructions between cannon balls . Some of them, I’m sure, were expert calf ropers. In fact, it was one of the teenaged lifeguards who finally roped the goat, wrestled it to the ground and tied its legs together as my daughter and I looked on in astonishment.
I left the meeting feeling confident things would eventually go my way. They almost always did. To tell you the truth, it was rare for me to have setbacks in my professional life. My personal life however, is a completely different story.
On the surface everything looks fine, I suppose. We are the kind of happy you see in the pictures that come with purchased picture frames. Oh, we’ve had our good times. Plenty of them. Just not recently. And by recently I mean in the last, say, decade. The crazy part was I didn’t even realize anything was wrong. I didn’t ever stop to think about the state of our marriage. It just was. I counted on Vanessa to do what she always did, just as she counted on me to do the same. And then ten years happened. We had money, a bigger house and older kids. And the sex life of nuns. I don’t think either one of us was truly satisfied with how things turned out but what was there to complain about? We were healthy, financially secure, and had all the reason in the world to be happy. But we weren’t. Worse than that, we just kind of accepted it without talking about it.
We might’ve gone along like that forever were it not for a business deal that took me across the country to Oregon’s Willamette Valley. I wouldn’t describe myself as a very spiritual person, but when I drove through Eola Hills, I felt like I was home. I was more myself that weekend in Oregon than I’d ever been before. Except for one major mistake. I cringe to remember it but can’t bring myself to feel actual regret because it was the catalyst for everything that followed.
It’s hard to explain what happened exactly. Even to myself. And especially to Vanessa. I’ve tried over and over again. I told her about the shock of seeing my pale, haggard face in the tiny American Airlines bathroom mirror. I was like the slow unraveling of my sanity finally came to a head and it was clear what I had to do. Crazy as it was.
So here we are, across the country and moved out of our old life on the threshold of our new one. I’m not necessarily proud of how it all came to be, but I can honestly say that as I look around the farm and watch my girls exploring a new part of the country, a new way of life, I’ve never been happier.