Saturday, September 22, 2012

Great Expectations

My first comment, when it was over, was, "I SO want a glass of wine right now."

Except, really,  I didn't.  But I needed to say something, and it needed to be amusing.  Or distracting.  Or SOMETHING.  Anything but how I felt, which was discouraged.  And disappointed.  And tired. Wine is for celebrating.  For spending time with friends, and relaxing, and enjoying.  And by making my attorney smile a little bit at that, it made the moment a little bit better.

I expected to win this battle.  I thought, how could I NOT win?  It's so clear that they were wrong and we were right, and in a fair and just world, everyone would see that and make it all better.  It's ironic that I forgot the one thing I've tried so hard to teach my children:  it's not really a fair world.    Most things, if given enough time, work out.  Well, everything works out eventually... just not always the way you want.

The judge was great.  I really liked her.  If we were at a cocktail party, I would be hanging around her, wanting to be friends.  If she were on the PTA, I'd want her to be in charge.  She was smart, and fair, and had a great sense of humor.    And she did everything she could to be fair to both sides.  And though we lost one of our arguments, she gave us a bone and made it possible to keep fighting.

My attorney put the kibbosh on social media.  He advised strongly (accent was his) against me talking about anything.  So I'm not really talking about the case, beyond what I've just said.  This isn't really about that, anyway.

Losing, though.  I can talk about losing.  Because I didn't expect to lose.  I expected to be victorious!  By noon, I had hoped, so I could then hop in my van and drive to the beach for the weekend and hang out with my girlfriends and walk in the surf and read a book and ride my bike and shop at the outlet mall on the way back and have a lovely weekend.  It was a reasonable expectation.

But by noon, we realized we weren't going anywhere.  Not for a long while.  We got bumped to the end of the docket.   Which, really, was a blessing in disguise.  The early part of the day was spent watching the short cases  - the ones where they just needed a signature, or to agree on a new date for something.  The five minute cases.  They were pretty boring, really.  I had brought a book for that part.

We were supposed to be a 20 minute case.  I love how everything was structured by time management. The 30 minute cases came after us.  Well, before and after.   We were continued.  The 30 minute cases were fascinating.  There was a financial dispute - a man lost his house.  Then a mentally ill woman wanting a new guardian appointed.  There were broken bones involved.  And then a child-custody case, that was really about how the relationship between the husband and wife had deteriorated.  Suggestions of infidelity, tales of people smacking each other in the head with bottles (the mother in law!),  hints of lesbianism (accent mine, because it was said in the same way we used to whisper "cancer" 30 years ago... horrible, can't do anything about it, let's not say it out loud and maybe it won't be real).  And since this was all said by one side trying to increase time with the children, one might expect them to say horrible things that aren't real.  It was sad, really.  And the judge, who (did I mention I loved her?) said, basically, well, tough toodles, but you haven't shown me how this is any better for your children, and they are the ones we're talking about, so no, we're not changing it.  Good for her.

Watching these people, my problems seemed so much smaller.  So it was a blessing that I got to sit through that before our case came back up.  It helps to be a little more grounded in reality when you need to go fight the good fight.  And it helps when you lose.  Because you can say, "Well, at least my marriage is good."  and "I still have a house!"  and "I'm capable of caring for myself and don't need a guardian ad litum to protect me."  Comparison, it is said, is the thief of joy.  But sometimes, it provides the comfort of perspective.

So I went home.  It was 3pm.  My plans for hitting the road, avoiding the traffic, cruisin' down the highway with the windows open and the music cranked up, those plans took a little detour.  Scott asked me if I had seen the email traffic that day about our fight with the county school transportation department.  Yes, another fight.  Long story short:  we lost our bus stop, we want it back, and we've been fighting for it.  Our arguments have been reasonable, rational, and make perfectly good sense.  Which is why it is mind-boggling that we are losing this fight, too.

I hadn't seen them, because you're not allowed to have a cell-phone in court.  (Yes, that did almost kill me, thanks for asking.)  My phone had been exiled to a little locker across the plaza all day.  By the time I had freed it, I just didn't have the mental energy to check email and voicemail.  So the first email I saw was from a neighbor saying, basically, "Yay!  We have a new stop on our side of the park!  We won!"  And I thought, finally, some good news.  Small victories really do feel as good as the big ones.  And then I scrolled down, and saw the email denying my request.  Apparently, the first email, the new stop, was a mistake.  We didn't win.  Defeat, snatched from the jaws of victory, in the space of about 2 minutes.

Again, this is a little thing.  I have my health.  My home.  My family.   And this is when I have to stop myself, because this is so clearly a first-world problem.  We are fighting for a bus stop to get to a fantastic school that is a mile and a half away.  I recognize that I am spoiled, horribly spoiled, with where we live and what we have.  If you feel tempted to point that out to me, you don't have to.  I already know.

But damn it, I really wanted that bus stop.  

At this point, I quit thinking about the beach.  I start thinking about sitting on my patio.  It's a glorious day.  So I go sit outside.  I put my feet up, and return my mom's call.  I tell her everything that happened that day.  It's a long conversation, because I can't just summarize with her.  She needs the details, she's my mom.  I need to tell her the details.  Because then I don't have to tell my brother, or my aunts and uncles and cousins.  She'll take care of that for me.  And I'm so glad, because by the time we're done, I'm done.  I don't want to talk to anyone else.  I don't want to talk about the case.  I don't want to talk about the bus stop.  I don't want to talk.  Period.  I want to sit in the shade and drink my tea (yes, tea.  I know you expected wine, because it's ME, but again, wine is for celebrating.  Tea is the consolation prize.)

Oh crap.  I'm supposed to be at the beach.  I was supposed to be on the road by then.  And I just can't.  I can't do it.  When I feel like this, I don't want people.  I want my cabin in the woods, off the grid.  (My fantasy cabin has untraceable internet, no bugs, and good indoor plumbing... and is still off the grid.  It's a fantasy cabin.  I get that.)  I want to go inside myself.  And the friends I'm supposed to be spending the weekend with, well, this would not work.  I'm sorry, ladies.  I know I was supposed to be there with you, and before this, I really wanted to go.  But I just can't right now.  And this is not the first time that I have done this to you.  I'm really sorry.  Please don't expect me to be this loser every year.  I swear, next year, I am THERE.

So I watched Aliens with Scott and Ian and we ate too much ice cream.  I played on the computer and was horribly unproductive.  And when I went to bed, I slept for 11 hours.

Which, it turns out, was a very good thing.   I expected to feel better when I woke up, and I did.  Finally, something that goes the way you hope.  (Of course, I also expected to wake up several hours earlier than I did, but nobody complained, so I'm good.)   I went to the nature center, where there was a native plant sale going on.  I bought some plants I'm pretty sure are doomed to an untimely death.  I bought another button bush, which has these wicked cool balls on them, and this time, I swear, I will take care of it and nurture it, and it will grow and be happy.  Because I killed the last one.  Sorry, Rachel from the Nature Center.  I feel like I let you down.  I will not kill this one.

I think about everything on my list.  You know the list, it's that REALLY BIG one, that starts with "proof with these clients", to "sort Ian's clothes", "call lawyer", and somehow ends with, "gut the garden and start over completely."   I try to edit down  the list, but it grows as I write it.  In my mind, everything on that list is a reasonable thing to do.  And of course, I want to start with, "gut the garden and start over."  But I don't.  Instead, I start with, "buy plants".  Because when all I want to do is be inside myself, playing in the dirt feels good.   I know it will feel good later, when I start digging.   I get everything I expect from that.  I get dirty.  I get tired.  My kids come out and help by not helping at all.  I kill things.  I grow things.  Sometimes we eat them.   Sometimes, I just finish by being tired and dirty. It is everything I hope for.

So tomorrow, I dig.  And Monday, I will cross, "Call lawyer" off my list.

And I expect that I will feel a little bit sad about that.

And then I'll feel better.