Thursday, April 03, 2008

now leaving Fun Country

i am from Fun Country. years of therapy and this is what i come away with: Fun Country.

i move and work out of a 'good times' space. if it feels good, do it. if it's gonna get me tipsy, drink it. if it's chocolate, eat it. if the card works, charge it. whatever the cost, whatever the means; what the fuck, let's have some fun.

you probably lived in Fun Country during college, where you enjoyed all-night drive thrus, resin-stained fingers, hangovers on Wednesday. a stereotypical college kid sucks the juice out of Fun Country and wipes his mouth on his shirt sleeve.

after 7 years of skipping class and getting by on bullshit, i got my degree. dad joyfully forced me off the bank account and left me to decide what i want to be when i grew up. nevertheless, my native tongue remained smooth on my lips. and by not deciding what i wanted to be, i decided not to grow up. pay it when the pink bill comes. tonight, get some cash and hit happy hour. up all night, sleep through the snooze alarm. late for work again. dig out clothes from the dryer and wash a fork from the sink. life was catch as catch-can, but dangit, i was having a good time.

my divorce knocked my feet out from under me. but moreover, it was a valid excuse to embrace reckless abandon of all things grown up--and no one would give me shit about it. even in my own mind, i excused my irresponsibility in the name of "you deserve it." i felt a calling to run away from my life, and i heeded the call.

after leaving the marriage debt-free with a nice savings account, a few years in Fun Country left me with overdue credit card bills that grew exponentially with every late payment. my kids weren't babies anymore and had by now figured out that mom went from work to the bar and might come home before they went to bed, but more likely the nanny would tuck them in. and wake them up. and cook for them. i behaved like a spoiled kid... course, i come by that honestly having been raised as a spoiled child by a couple of spoiled parents, but that's fodder for another day. therapy did give me a little more than just insight into my Fun Country citizenship.

i was a 40 year old teenager, with the body of a 52 year old woman. now that ain't fun. but i partied on dude, screw the consequences.

the problem with Fun Country is that it's hard, nary impossible, to move into grown-up land when you refuse to acknowledge anything in life that isn't a good time. and while all night drive thrus are a lot of fun, 2AM french fries and strawberry shakes at midnight don't sit on a 36 year stomach as well as a 25 year old one...and the scale begins to show what heartburn doesn't. more than bumpy thighs and afternoon alka-seltzer, living in Fun Country stunted my growth--in my mind, in my head and in my heart.

my therapist put words to it, but it took another 2 years of wandering for the words to become action. but eventually, this old kid got tired of laughing in the face of reality. instead of making a resolution in the haze of another wednesday morning hangover, i made changes one weekend at a time. starting with reconnecting with my kids. then myself. writing instead of talking. moving instead of sleeping. sleeping instead of drinking.

it's been about a month since i started packing boxes and making my move from Fun Country. i've had to pack away a few friendships, seal up the snooze alarm and close up the late night kitchen full of munchies. slowly, i'm getting some distance between me and my studio apartment in Fun Country. my bills are all current. my kids wait for me in the evenings, and aren't disappointed. cabinet clutter is clearing and my vision board is up and running.

i still see the exit signs for Fun Country in my rearview mirror (let alone the evidence of living there on my waistline), but i'm focused on the windshield, looking forward. and i see an organized little house in my path.

it's cliche: you can't drive a car with three wheels. you can't sit in a chair with a missing leg. you can't ride a unicycle with a pile of bricks on your head... can you? anyhoo... you can't be an effective adult if you're make choices like a child. you gotta have some balance.

for now, i'm not having much fun.

paying bills on time doesn't always leave enough cash for vodka with the boys after work. cleaning the house and keeping two kids organized is a pain in the ass. credit counseling? there is nothing fun about that. coming straight home, waking up early, getting to work and making sure the oil is changed all on time--it takes discipline. i miss Fun Country.

there was no discipline in Fun Country, maybe a bit of endurance, certainly a dash of gusto, but no discipline. But there was also no security, no sense of accomplishment, no self-acknowledgment. no balance. to keep the pendulum in the middle, i have to swing it way far to the right for a while, because it was so stuck on the left. the thrust will pull it back to the middle and maybe, just maybe, if all goes well, i'll have a balanced pendulum in a month or so.

the key to moving out of Fun Country was admitting that i needed to live a disciplined life if i wanted to feel balanced and centered... and grown up. i had to move out of my swingers pad and into a suburban home, fit for a successful single mom and two little darlings... and a nanny. i decided i was ready to leave Fun Country, but no sense in speeding out of there too fast.

i haven't left Fun Country forever. Summertime julie will get a condo for a week in Fun Country while the kids visit their dad in july. i'll swing by from time to time, around the holidays. Fun Country is a great place to visit, but i wouldn't want to live there.

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