Monday, January 30, 2012

Vacation, 2012

My vacation, if you can call it that, went pretty much how I expected it to go. Since I have a 72 hour memory regarding my married life, I had to make little notes to myself as time went by so I wouldn't forget any details. I can get the usual routines out of the way, first:

- I smoked like mad for the whole vacation: almost two packs a day. It was getting to the point where the locals downstairs at the convenience store asked me if something happened.
- I think it goes without saying, but I had to clean up my son's toys, and my wife and mom's trash and books and stuff, every night for a total of nine cleanups.
- There was only one day where I didn't do the laundry, but I did it twice the next day, so that came out to nine times.
- I had a two day reprieve from the dishes, because we went out to eat one night, and my wife took care of the other load. So that was seven times total.
- I didn't play more than four hours of video games: once was a sweet spot where my mom, wife and son all fell asleep at the same time, and another was when my wife and son went out to meet one of her co-workers and my mom was busy writing letters. Otherwise, I didn't touch them.

The chores and lack of games didn't really bother me all that much, because the chores were just a little heavier than usual, and my video games basically serve as a counterpoint to my unrewarding, unnoticed work where 95% of the money I make gets taken from me, work that I didn't do during my vacation. Any times where I don't mention what I or my family did, it's safe to assume we were just watching TV or talking.

Day 1 - My wife, son, mom and I went to two arcades to play games and stuff. I don't need to go into detail, because they were the same trips I always take with my son, only with two more coming. On the way, I saw one foreigner co-worker riding by on the road with his hot girlfriend with him, and another foreigner co-worker walking into the arcade with his hot girlfriend. I tried not to let it bother me.

This was also the first day in 20 straight days that I didn't have to work.

Day 2 - We just watched TV all day together and talked. In bed, my wife was in a bad mood and started complaining about everything under the sun: our son not sleeping, the weather, having cabin fever, you name it. I wondered off-hand why she didn't just go to work, stand outside the front door for eight hours, then come home after if it bothered her so much that she had a vacation, instead of dumping everything on me.

Day 3 - We all took a trip to a department store so my wife and mom could go shopping. I told my wife that morning that I wanted to stay behind with our son because I don't like shopping and would have nothing to do, but she insisted that I take our son there and play with him, and wouldn't budge from her position, so I let her have her way.

Before leaving, I suggested that we all take a walk there, because it was less than a mile away and had some great sights. But my wife disagreed, and wouldn't budge from her position, so I let her have her way. After waiting for over an hour for her to get ready, we left.

We split up at the store, and I took my son around to look at and play with a couple of toys, then play in a ball pit. An hour or two later, my wife and mom joined up with me, and we went to get lunch: mostly fish, so I didn't eat much. After we went home, my wife was silent and in a bad mood, so my mom and I took my son to the park to play. I saw a foreigner I've never met walking by with his cute girlfriend, and said hello.

While in the park, two foreigner co-workers that I know well came by, walking their dogs. They're both really nice guys, and they let my son pet their pups. They both live in my apartment complex. I know one of them has a cute girlfriend, and one or the other was busted having sex in the elevator about a year ago. I remember my wife telling me about it and saying, "Isn't that a scandal?!"

"Yeah," I answered then. That could have been me, I thought.

When we got home, and I had spent an hour doing all my nightly chores, my wife went into our bedroom. My son followed her and asked her to put on a diaper. She told him to ask me to do it. I stood up and walked into the room, naively thinking that she was doing something like making the bed or something.

Nope, she was just reading.

I took three steps away from where she was sitting, took a diaper from its case and tossed it at her feet without a word. It was passive-aggressive, I know, and I don't usually act like that, but I was seething too hard to deal with her bossing me around that night, especially after doing all those chores while she surfed the net for ten hours straight, and I didn't want my mom being caught in the middle of any kind of tiff.

Day 4 - We all took a trip this day. First, we waited for almost two hours while my wife got ready. Then, we took an hour long taxi ride before we finally came to a strawberry field where we could cut and buy our own strawberries, which was fun, but we only did it for about ten minutes. Then we walked around while my wife went window shopping for about thirty minutes, then we had lunch.

Another hour long taxi ride later, we came to an outdoor market area, where I played with my son and talked with my mom while my wife window shopped for another two hours. Then, after waiting for her to go to the bathroom for a half hour, we walked along a shaky bridge over a river to see the view for about ten minutes, then we took another hour long taxi ride home. Despite the extreme boredom of the bulk of this trip, I stayed outwardly happy the entire time, and thanked my wife later.

After another hour of chores that night, while my mom and son were fast asleep and a good distance away, my wife and I were in bed, and I asked her if we could have sex. She said she was on her period, so I dropped my idea of sex immediately, but asked if she would take care of me. She shook her head a bunch of times and said, "No, no. It'll be sad that you're the only one having fun."

I flashed briefly back to everything I had done for her in the past few days, all the money I had given her the previous day, and the hour of chores I did while she was on the computer the whole time. After a quiet, inward sigh, I rolled over and said, "Ok."

"Are you angry?" she asked.

"No," I calmly replied with the skill of a Shakespearean actor, "good night."

And I wasn't really angry. I was disappointed in my naivete, thinking that she would appreciate the work I had done for her, and that this time would be different from the other hundreds of times that she's turned me down.

Day 5 - We did nothing but hang out, talk and watch TV on this day.

Day 6 - The four of us took another arcade trip with the last of my tokens, and my mom, son and I went out to the park later, but nothing much else happened.

Day 7 - We took a trip to the city to see some monuments that I have been to several times previously, but I haven't yet written about in a Then and Now. My son played some fishing games, then we all split up so my son and I could wander around one of the monuments for a while. After we all met up again, we ate at Burger King, then went outside of the main station to see another little park/monument that I also haven't written about yet. During the five minute walk, my wife kept nagging about me being lost, and wouldn't stop asking if I knew where I was going. I answered her the same every single time: "I've been there three times. It's right over there." We took some pictures next to the pond there, fed some fish, then took a train back home.

On the way home, my wife was in another bad mood. She reminded me for the twentieth time this month to put on our son's diaper before he went to bed, though it only slipped my mind once. With my mom sitting there or not, I had had enough of the nagging, and I told her straight up, "I only forgot once. You don't have to keep reminding me."

She suddenly shut down and got quiet for the next thirty minutes, and I'll pick up the story at the end of this post because what happened next was important.

Day 8 - My wife took our son out to meet her aunt and uncle, so I watched movies with my mom. When my wife came home with our son, she took my mom out to go shopping again, so I roughhoused with my son in the bedroom. When everyone returned, I took my mom and son out to go to the park one last time, then we went home.

Day 9 - My wife's mother, aunt and uncle came over to have dinner, and we all spent a few hours talking and eating. It was all typical boring marriage stuff (family and work), but I still made quite a good impression with everyone. Early morning the next day, I took my mom downstairs, hailed a taxi for her, said goodbye, then went home to sleep.

So anyway, about the incident on Day 7:

After my wife got silent, and after several other such bad moods that she had been in for the previous few days and weeks, I realized then that I don't really care about my wife's problems or mood anymore. No matter how many times I've given her the exact instructions she needs to fix her many petty problems, she never listens to me, and prefers to fence-sit and feel bad about her issues without taking action to solve them.

I've tried gentle persuasion. I've tried tough love. I've tried ignoring her. I've tried listening patiently. I've tried telling her exactly what I did to go from being a suicidal loser to the man I was before I married. I've tried pity. I've tried shotgunning a dozen suggestions to her. But she never listens. So after she shut down and put herself in another bad mood, and after months of treating me like her house slave and whining on and off, I realized that she's never going to take my advice. She's always going to get upset about stuff, and she's never going to stop. There's nothing she'll let me do, and as long as we're married with a child, she holds all the cards, and there's nowhere I can go.

Then I took this thought to the next step. "What if she's so mad this time that she divorces me?"

I felt lighter immediately; I would love that. As the train took us back to our house, I started making plans for what I would do after our divorce.

First, I'd have to take care of money problems. She'd probably take $1000 or so from my paycheck every month in child support and alimony. I would need another $400 to have enough money to pay my son's way through college in twenty years (and my wife could have it if my alimony and child support payment was higher). I would need $700 to pay for all of my rent, bills and stuff. Then I would add $1000 to give to charity, which I don't have the freedom to do now, and a final $400 for my entertainment.

Then I started to do a little math: $3500 a month at the money I make now would mean I would have to get a second job Monday through Friday, and work from around 10:00 in the morning to 9:00. Just like things were before I married, and was still happy! Or, I could happily sell all of my video games, because I wouldn't need them to distract myself from my new, awesome life, and use the money to support myself while I went back to school and got a license and degree to translate or interpret instead of teach. That would provide me more than enough money to pay for everything, and I wouldn't have to work as much.

Then I started thinking about all the things that marriage took from me that I would get back:

- No more mother-in-law! My life and the life I have with my son would be mine again.
- No more piles of chores! With just me and my son to take care of, and the fact that I don't change his clothes three times a day or want to cook all the time, that would be a (small) weight off my shoulders. I could even pay him an allowance to do all the chores in the house for me when he was older, which would teach him responsibility and ease the pressure of working all day off of me.
- More time! The entire weekend would be mine to spend as I wish.
- More money! From $100 a month to $500 a month, and not spending anything on cigarettes that I would no longer need? I think so.
- More freedom! I imagine that a divorce between my wife and I would result in joint custody: two weeks with mom, two weeks with dad. With dad weeks, I could take my son out anywhere and anytime I wanted: go see ducks, hit up the arcade, drive up into the mountains, and do it in just about any weather without my wife or her mother nagging me to either come home early, or not go at all. And by the time the divorce was finalized, he would be in school and able to go home by himself while I worked, so I wouldn't need to pay for daycare (or at least, for too long).

And for mom weeks, nothing would stop me from going out to any city in the country, all weekend, and making hundreds more friends (and dating candidates) in just a few short months. Adventure, coffee, movies and marathon sex sessions every other night for two straight weeks? Yes, sir. There were only two or three months between me arriving at the hostel and dating my wife, and I made about two hundred friends then, the vast majority of them young women. What was stopping me from making a thousand over the course of a few more months?

Then I started thinking about the few issues I would have during my divorce. Would I get tired of working so hard?

No, because most of the money would be going to me, my son and charity. It wouldn't be like that job I had before where I worked all day, but didn't get paid half the time. And it certainly wouldn't be like the job I have now, where I get $50-100 of the over $2000 I make a month, and give the rest to my family.

Would I be able to find a girl who was not only cool with dating a divorced man with a son, but who had absolutely no desire to make the alluring mistakes of marriage or pregnancy with me?

Please, who do you think you're talking to? I would never sleep with a girl unless she knew about my ex-wife and son, and my lack of a desire to marry or have more kids, so that would be a definite obstacle to overcome. But I had girls all over me when I was single, and there's no reason I couldn't do it again.

No matter how I sliced it, I was ready for the "challenges" of a divorcee's life, because unlike marriage, a divorced man's life in a country that doesn't discriminate against men in family court is as good as he makes it, not as good as his wife allows it to be. By the time I finished fanatasizing about all of this, imagining adventuring with and making love to my ideal girlfriend, imagining all the children's lives that I could save with my charity work, imagining all the fun my son and I could have by letting ourselves loose of the chains that marriage has placed upon me, I was home and smoking my second cigarette. I didn't notice the entire trip home while I was lost in this amazing daydream.

As the cigarette wound down to the filter, I then asked myself a simple question: "So, why is this a bad idea?"

I was instantly bombarded with a series of images:

- I saw a child's drawing, featuring two houses on either side of the paper with my wife and me in either one, and a stick figure of my son crying in the middle.
- I saw my son crying out for me as his mom dragged him away to spend his two weeks with her. Simultaneously, I remembered my brother and I doing the same thing with our first father and our mom.
- I saw the lights in my son's eyes flicker as his mother and I talked politely to one another, only to have them dim into sadness when he realized we would never get back together.
- I remembered the four ways I tried to kill myself in college, suicide attempts that were brought about, in part, due to my broken family situation. And I saw my son's face in place of mine.

A weight pressed down on my shoulders. Invisible hands pushed my head back underwater. I was back, experiencing marriage again.

But all in all, I think this post about my "vacation" is best ended where it began:

After picking my mom up from the airport, and while waiting in line for a taxi outside, a man from Texas standing behind us started talking with me about all the travels he had made in his lifetime. He said that not a single place that he had been to was anything short of perfection, but there was one place he never liked to go: home. "I get depressed when I go home," he said, "like nothing ever changes and I have nothing to look forward to but the same old, same old.

"People who haven't traveled don't know what they're missing," he continued. "Content just sitting around in the ten miles around where they grew up. Some of these people never left the country. Or the state. Or even their city! They don't know anything."

I just nodded, because I didn't want to tip off my mom to how I felt about marriage. But later, the man said something that I'll never forget:

"I might find a wife around here, you never know!"

I said nothing, because my mom was still there. That man was me, freshly arriving in this country with everything going well for him, except for that one destructive thought that marriage is something to strive for. I hope he reconsiders making the biggest mistake of his life.

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