Lying in bed at night, my ears would ring, and my head would spin.
Why the ringing? The quiet was surprisingly hard to get used to. In town, it wasn't as if we were living in Times Square or anything, but the sounds of city life had surrounded us for six years heavy traffic, loud sirens, shouting neighbors, rowdy parties in the church across the street and the urban symphony sort of became the white noise of "home."
Our first night in Mililani, even with all the windows thrown open like giant, hungry ears, the world was distressingly silent. It seemed like something less than nothing, a negative space, the rare bark of a dog or chirp of a gecko the only proof that we weren't sealed off in a vacuum. I became hyperaware of things I'd rarely noticed before: the click of my ankle as I walked, the sound of Katie's fingernails as she scratched an itch, the water heater clicking off. I woke myself up with the sound of my own snoring.
It was strange. So many things had changed in the previous few weeks, but it was the quiet that I seemed to notice most. Or, perhaps, it was simply the first change I allowed myself to notice. Because life had gotten pretty crazy recently, and I knew there was a lot more change to come.
And that was why my head was spinning.
Tutu's funeral was perfect. Simple, beautiful, heartfelt. Wonderful in that singularly bittersweet way of all funerals, bringing together people who are sometimes too far separated by time and space. I met relatives I'd never met, even a few I'd never heard of. My heart stopped when I saw how much Tutu's sister looked like her, and my heart ached to see tears in the eyes of so many people I cared about.
My mom brought Tutu home with her, to stay with her until she can be taken to her final resting place alongside her late husband in Virginia. We also came away with an embarrassment of beautiful flowers, and before the sun set that day we brought them on a pilgrimage to the grave of my father's father, where Zac helped us pick up leaves and where Katie asked the first hundred of a thousand questions about life and death.
We even found time that weekend for a birthday party, a combined, subdued event for a cousin and aunt with leftover food from the caterers and a simple cake. Perhaps mostly relieved that Tutu's pain was at an end, and definitely proud of the legacy she left, we accepted that life must go on.
And on it went.
We decided to move in with mom.
We'd actually talked about it off and on for months. But suddenly it seemed to be the only rational plan.
We had baby number three on the way, a fact that we still really hadn't gotten used to. Our Makiki apartment was already too small, and our bills were already too big. We'd relied on mom for some financial support, but she had been getting a little help from Tutu. With Tutu finally at peace, with Todd having moved out a few months prior, with a big garage sale coordinated weeks before with my mom's neighbors taking place the weekend after the funeral... there really wasn't much debate.
I'm not a religious man, but stepping back and looking at the year to date, it was impossible to avoid getting the distinct impression someone, somewhere had a plan, and we were involved whether we wanted to be or not.
It wasn't an easy decision, to be sure. There's a longstanding implication of failure associated with moving back in with a parent. And even though my mom will reliably side with Jen instead of me when we have a spat, no one really wants to live with their mother-in-law.
But the plan made too much sense. My mom's place was a real home, with room for a family, in a safe and quiet neighborhood filled with kids. I wouldn't have to fight for street parking, or deal with a tempramental elevator, or hear our neighbors burp. Jen and I would get to play in a real kitchen for once, and of course mom would benefit via a much-improved home menu. We wouldn't be throwing money down the rent hole (or the laundromat hole for that matter), and by pooling resources and splitting expenses we'd actually be able to gasp! pay down debt and start saving.
So, with fingers crossed, we got to work.
We held the garage sale, and sold lots of stuff. We then set about to sorting through Tutu's things, and suffice it to say, a person collects a lot of things in a lifetime. Boxes and boxes of things went to relatives, but then truckloads and many, many vanloads of things went over the Ko`olau mountains to the city dump. Though it seemed impossible when we started, we cleared out Tutu's room. Then Todd's old room. Then we tackled the "family room" an enclosed patio that had essentially become storage and declared a lost cause a long time ago and turned it into a usable space again. I even put down a basic carpet and unrolled a new, giant rug. Katie immediately declared it her "play room." That's ultimately what it became.
We spread the move across three weeks, and I plotted things down to the drawer and appliance and bought easily $300 worth of giant Rubbermaid "Roughneck" storage bins (since messing with cardboard boxes quickly made me homicidal). I rediscovered my inner anal retentive, high strung self, and despite a few frayed nerves and a few injuries, real progress was made. Todd and Eathan were kind enough to pitch in for the last hurrah, involving a giant Penske truck rental.
Not long after I wondered whether it was a good idea for a company to rent such a big vehicle to any joker who walks in off the street, I ripped half the front end off a neighbor's minivan. That was my Stupid Tax™ for this mission a $1,400 off-the-books repair bill.
Fortunately, even though we trashed the apartment, we got $600 back from our security deposit.
Jen and I claimed Tutu's room, which was originally my mom's room, the master bedroom. Katie and Zac and their bunk bed went into Todd's room. My mom kept my old room. All the toys and our many computers went into the new play room, and most of the kitchen space was turned over to Jen's control. I canceled our utilities, moved our DSL service (killing my mom's cable connection), and sent out about 80 change-of-address postcards. Though we were (and are) still living out of a few of those rubber tubs, by the middle of June we were officially moved in.
Even today it feels weird. It feels weird to dial the same phone number I dialed in high school to reach someone at home, or to get mail with my "old" address... or to find myself sitting in bumper-to-bumper rush-hour traffic.
Forget the quiet. The toughest change to adjust to is the commute.
Remember when I just started at my current job last March, and muttered about suddenly having to deal with rush hour when driving from Makiki to the airport area? Now I gotta say, those were the good ol' days.
Mornings are tolerable, and by tolerable I mean "only heavy congestion because we leave for work at 5:45 a.m. and it only takes half an hour unless there's an accident in which case it can take twice as long." Getting up early is something I've already gotten used to, and there are advantages to being in the office by 6:15 a.m.
But the afternoon drive is just awful. Even though we head home at around 4 p.m. instead of the even deadlier pau-hana peak an hour later, the freeway is already backed up to near my office. Stop and go, stop and go, in the piercing afternoon sun, and the trip home takes an hour on a good day. A stalled car in the left lane or a fender bender near the Pearl City offramp? Jen and the kids have to start dinner without us.
My mom and I carpool, which makes things a little easier, except usually I drive, because her driving makes me nervous (and my driving annoys her, but I'm more likely to whine about it if I'm the passenger). If anything, I now have hard proof that I'm a calmer person today than I was when making the same drive a decade ago, because I can just sit back and enjoy NPR or have a polite conversation, rather than fuming and cursing and plotting the slow, painful death of the random, unsuspecting commuters surrounding me.
Baby arrives on August 16.
I don't mean that Jen is due on August 16, or that that's the day some website or book or nurse says the baby will arrive. I mean baby arrives on August 16, likely before noon. Jen's having a scheduled C-section.
Ideally, of course, we wouldn't go the surgical route. We were even quite impressed to learn our hospital's policy is to favor VBACs (vaginal births after C-section), when we'd read that most places were rather skittish about them. But after extensive consultations with doctors and conversations with each other, we chose to know when and how our third child would come into this world.
The printed list of VBAC risks that we would have had to sign alone gave us pause. But to be honest, all we needed to do was think back to how things nearly went off the rails with Zac's birth to realize that a little more certainty would bring a lot more peace of mind. There are always risks, true, as it is major surgery. But, heck, since we've already done the "planned traditional way" and the "emergency surgical way," we might as well try door number three.
There's an interesting story behind the date, too.
Sometime after Thanksgiving last year, before we knew Jen was pregnant, she told me about a dream she'd had. It left an impression because it was so vivid, and so simple. She dreamed she was sitting in a waiting room of sorts. There was a small window in the wall, a square pane of frosted glass, that was closed. And behind it, Jen could hear and see the shadow of a woman talking. And the only thing Jen could make out, the phrase that the woman kept repeating, was, "August 16th."
We didn't think much of it, though I do remember wondering if it had something to do with Tutu, and Jen later confessed that she'd already suspected she might be pregnant, and mused that the date was her due date.
When we knew she was pregnant, she brought up the dream. "Interesting," we thought. When the doctor determined she was due in August, she brought up the dream again. "Interesting," we thought.
But eventually the due date was pegged at August 23. And with the maelstrom our lives quickly became, we forgot all about the dream. When the scheduled C-section was suggested last month, the dream didn't even come up. Finally, the date was set: August 18. "Hey, that's close to your birthday," I said.
Then, last week, the doctor's office called. Something came up, and they asked if we would be able to do it on another day instead. Sometime earlier. Sure, we said. And they said, "How's August 16?"
So less than a month from today, Katie and Zac will have a little brother. To say that we're feeling overwhelmed would be an understatement. We're excited and terrified, and somewhat surprised to discover that we can still feel this way despite having gone through it twice before. The circumstances are pretty different, sure, but I think it's something else.
Katie's arrival was a surprise, but against all odds, she helped bring Jen and I back together, and we built a wonderful family. Zac was dearly wanted and most assuredly planned, but his first year of life brought an unexpected trial that shook us to the core. Now, the unexpected news of this third child kicked off a year that has turned out to be the most tumultuous one yet. My head hurts when I try and imagine what his arrival will mean... but there's no question that it means something big.
Congrats! We're due too! December 18!!
pam u. (July 26, 2004 2:19 PM)
Ryan, what a fantastic post. Written with such clarity and rememberance of detail. What a year it has been for you folks; the good, the sad, and making the most of the daily events. Your ability to see the the silver lining and remain positive is always refreshing. Congrats to you, Jen, and the rest of the family on your newest addition!
kane (July 27, 2004 7:00 PM)
Wow, what a lot of upheaval, change, possibilities! Clearly some things are meant, and how wise of you to just go with the flow. I look forward to your detailed post on how things go on August 16th! As for Jen, you just go with the flow, girl, the tide is rising. ... as for the commute, my utter sympathies. I did the Mililani thing for 11 years, and even though it was a wrench to sell my home and turn into a renter downtown, my peace of mind was much improved by not having to deal with the commute. The kids (who wnt to school in town with me) did get an amazing grasp of both Hawaiian and classic rock music during those days, so it wasn't a total loss. Books on tape are good too. Good thoughts going out to all five of you-- --Susanj
SusanJ (July 31, 2004 5:16 PM)
I miss you guys! My head spins to read about all the changes in your lives. Your family is such an inspiration to me ... Baby #3 is so blessed.
kreeesty (August 4, 2004 12:31 PM)
Hey, congratulations on Baby#3!
Amanda Page (August 5, 2004 2:10 PM)
Howzit, Ryan. Wow! I didn't realize Jen and you had another on the way when we exchanged mail last winter. Yumi is due a bit after that in October. So far, things are going really well though it is sometimes a bit of a struggle to convince Yumi it's ok to slow down from her normal pace :-) I'll be interested to see how you feel about the quiet once you've stayed for a while. Personally, I always notice the contrast for a few days away from the city but quickly adjust and find returning to the urban setting difficult.
Bruce (August 8, 2004 11:01 PM)
Okay...I claim "dibs" on being the Haole Auntie for all _3_ of your keiki! Seems like just a year or so ago when we had the first-ever Cyber `Ohana gathering of island and mainland folks at the Halekulani...fun memories, indeed. Bob and I send you and yours best wishes for an easy birth experience, a handsome healthy baby, and joy as your life continues!
Auntie Maria (August 14, 2004 7:32 PM)
E kala mai! Comments have been disabled due to overwhelming abuse by spammers. Please click through to any of the video hosting services linked above to leave a public response, or feel free to send an e-mail. Mahalo!
© 1997-2008 Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: email@example.com · Created: 13 November 1997 · Last Modified: 14 January 2008