|The view hasn’t changed in 10 years|
But the anticipation of an upcoming trip to my former in-laws’ summer house in the Poconos was starting to get to me. Three days spent in their company, and in the company of the 99 year-old matriarch of the family, staying in a guest bedroom on the second floor of their all-too familiar three story stone house. Sharing my meals with them. The same meals they used to prepare when I was married and joined their son at the same table on countless weekends and holidays.
My 14 year-old son was already at their house, having gone up a week before. And I had agreed to fly up there with my 12 year-old daughter so I could drop her off for a few weeks. Coming here is one of the highlights of my kids’ summers. They love this place. This idyllic community with nothing to do but hang out with family and friends, play golf and tennis, swim in the massive outdoor pool and hike in to the woods to a natural slide nestled in to a waterfall. The same community where their father, my ex-husband, spent his summers as a kid. Except now, my ex’s friends have all married and have kids of their own who, in turn spend their summers here with my kids. Phew, that’s a lot of history.
So here I was, a decade later. Divorced and re-married with a lifetime between me and this kids’ version of heaven. Flying in to the Newark airport and going back to the Poconos but this time as a slightly anxious outsider. I’m not normally an insecure person but I planned my wardrobe with great care. Cute not-too-short shorts, a few new t-shirts, a black one piece bathing suit that showed some (tasteful) cleavage, a matching embroidered cover up and a cute hat. I had my hair colored and highlighted professionally for the first time since, well, the first time that I got married. Manicure pedicure. Got my eyebrows and bikini line waxed along with a first ever upper lip wax. (I didn’t want to look too much like my teenage son.)
Losing that part of my life was sad for me. The people there, especially the women who were my age, soon to be or newly married, were so welcoming and so warm when we first met. And I hit it off with them like you do with people when you are at the same stage in life and have so much in common. We were pregnant together, birthed our first kids around the same time and shared a lot of special memories. It was such a loss for me after the divorce but loyalties fall certain ways and I can’t complain. I got my fair share.
I went back to the Poconos this summer because neither of my kids has any memories of my time with them at this place that they love and they’ve been begging me to come for a visit. My last trip there was ten years ago. 2001. The summer before their dad and I decided to separate. A month before the Twin Towers fell. I remember being in the Newark airport waiting for our flight back to South Florida, sitting with my four year-old son and two year-old daughter and admiring the downtown Manhattan skyline. Where my husband and I met at graduate school and where, a few years later, my son was born. Looking at that view, my husband said to me, “Isn’t that a great sight?” “Yes,” I murmured in agreement, “Wonder when we’ll be back?”
And the answer was never. We never went back there together and neither one of us ever saw the World Trade Center again. The towers fell less than a month later, taking one of his best friends with them, and my marriage, which had already slowly begun crumbling, collapsed not too soon after. A collapse caused partly from learning the stories of all the lives taken too soon and the resulting feeling that permeated my day-to-day life: life is too short to live it unhappily.