I recently was coerced into leaving "the peninsula" for two weeks. Not only did I have to leave my home, my cats and my friends, I was forced to travel across the country to the East Coast, specifically, New Jersey. And, this was in August. Despite what you hear from the national media, New Jersey in August is not a "garden" spot. Despite all the news that we receive about hurricanes, tornados, tidal waves, floods, mudslides, earthquakes, etc., these are passing, temporary events. A summer on the East Coast, be it in Maryland, New Jersey, Georgia, Florida, Delaware, New York, etc., is a long-term visit to the depths of hell! The heat is oppressive, inescapable and miserable; air conditioning is only a temporary respite, trees don't block out the heat, even in the dead of night you can sweat! I ran away from this area when I retired. I went almost as far as I could without leaving the good, old U.S.A. I found a place with clean air, cool breezes and quiet. Now, I was being forcibly, but kindly, put back into this damp, sticky, den of iniquity. I was asked to "take care of" my grandchildren while their parents flew to Rio for almost two weeks.
I know that some of you folks think that I am a hard-hearted, grouchy fellow. Note that I did not tell my son and his wife to "get real!" I was, instead, slowly convinced that without my help, this trip would be impossible. And of course, Candy felt that this was a proper thing for grandparents to do! I am back! I have been changed. I think that I was seconds away from becoming an ax-murderer.
If you could erase the weather, New Jersey might be a pretty place ... in parts. But, there would still be the constant noise, the constant traffic, the people who over the years have learned to compensate for the heat and noise and crowds by screaming at each other every chance that they get. There is no such thing as polite conversation in New Jersey. There is no such thing as politeness. On the roads, road rage is the norm. Beeps, scowls and curses echo across the countryside.
The very worse thing, however, is the realization that you have failed utterly to ready your children to become parents. Perhaps the truth is that you were not a proper parent yourself. We had thought that with the first child that this was all part of a logical learning process. The second child, at 3 years old, is in serious need of an exorcism. She is a very cute, sweet-looking blonde with the heart and mannerisms of a spoiled, very rich, doted upon Paris Hilton. I came very quickly to the point where the words "I want" would make my hands clench as if they were squeezing a little white neck.
I spent two years taking graduate courses in education learning to understand and cope with children; to learn what their needs and wants and motivations were ... and as a grandparent I actually could envision the joy that would come from stuffing socks in their mouths and listening to the quiet. All of my illusions of wisdom and learning and being a Christian gentleman dissolved in seconds.
Well, we all survived ... the children, the grandparents, the parents, my other son, friends that we visited in New York. I've come to the conclusion that it must have been the heat! I kid you not, the weather forecasters said the highs would be in the mid-70s and I still was sweating and miserable. The peninsula is not just a comparison to heaven, it is the heaven that I have sought all of my life. I really do love it here and already I'm feeling better about myself.
Richard Olmer's column appears in the Sequim Gazette the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. He can be reached via
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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