Friday, July 6, 2012

In the Middle

This is only my second post here and already I'm violating one of the major premises of the blog: I'm not currently in Smallville. Instead, I'm at my ex-wife's house in Middletown, a not-quite-so-small town about twenty minutes from Smallville. I come here every weekday afternoon to watch our kids while FoxyJ works. I'm grateful that my job is flexible enough and that FoxyJ is gracious enough to allow for this situation to exist--really, how many divorced fathers get to spend time with their children almost every single day?--but today I'm thinking of how, just like many other aspects of my life, this puts me in an odd middle position, neither here nor there. I don't live in this house anymore, yet I spend time here every day. FoxyJ and I aren't married anymore, yet we see each other every day. We're friendly with each other--another thing I'm grateful for--but at the same time there's an uncomfortable distance between us, the result of the hurt I caused by leaving her.

And then there's my new home with Clark. In theory our moving in together symbolizes the start of a marriage-like relationship. But, of course, we're not actually married. And not just because same-sex marriage isn't an option in Utah--we've talked about going to another state to get married at some point in the future, but we're not at that point yet. Our relationship is complicated by the fact that he is not ready to tell his kids that we are in a relationship, largely because there are a lot of other people he's not ready to tell, and it would be unreasonable and unrealistic to expect children to keep a secret like that. We talked about this ahead of time and decided that for now, as far as our children are concerned (including mine because they can't be expected to keep a secret from his), we are friends who are renting a house together so that we can help each other out. When either set of children sleeps over, Clark and I sleep in separate bedrooms and we are, for all intents and purposes, housemates. And, as it turns out, the Kent kids have been over more often than not since we moved in last week, so the facade is starting to feel more real than the reality. I'm in this weird middle place where we aren't really housemates, but we're not really spouses either. 

I suppose the benefit of being caught between two realities is that  twice as many superheroes might come to your rescue.
I don't mean to complain, but rather to point out that life seldom fits into neat little boxes. I suspect that just about anyone could write a post about why their life is somewhere in the middle, an actual reality that falls between two imagined realities. When I get frustrated with being in the middle, I remind myself that I chose to be here, and I count the reasons that I'm happy to be here. I like Clark's kids and I enjoy having them around. I like seeing him be a father. On Tuesday night we had all seven kids over, and although it was a bit of a madhouse, I was happy to see my kids having fun with his. And then there are the moments when children are not within sight and Clark reminds me with a touch or a kiss that we are, in fact, more than housemates. So I'll enjoy my evening here in Middletown with my two-year-old (her brother and sister are in Vegas at Grandma's house), even though Clark is home alone in Smallville and this is the first night in several that he and I could have been alone together, because I chose to be here. The time alone with my daughter is equally important, and as much as she loves her Pooh-themed bedroom at "Clark's house" (she hasn't yet caught on that it's also my house), it's good for her to be in the comfort of her own home. And really, I take some comfort from being in the middle--after all, this is where I've always been.