This has been the closest thing to a vacation I’ve had since 2013. The In-laws were not residents to our state until exactly 6 months before they filed the law suit in order to establish grounds to ask for temporary conservatorship of Alice’s daughters, and when they were eventually granted joint conservatorship they moved back to their original residence across the country and filed the lawsuit again over there, dissatisfied with the verdict.
Fast forward to later in the story and you see a family consisting of four partners (legally two married couples) and four kids under three years of age taking a road trip across the country. I made crocheted stuffed Pokémon for the kids. Guinevere has an Espeon, Gaston an Umbreon, and Ginger a Leafeon. I found the free patterns on 53 Stitches site where the artist also sells the finished product. In anticipation of the trip (and out of frustration with its current length) I convinced Ed to cut my waist length hair to shoulder length. I felt sprightly and more attractive with my springy, low maintenance curls and actually looked forward to the trip more.
Edward was eager to go back to his and Alice’s home state they had left during the recession in 2008. He said to himself a few times that when he left, he had nothing there, but now his family is there and he has a reason to consider moving back. He lit up occasionally to show me the patterns in the clouds affected by the geography, like where the warm air vented through, or where wisps curled up above the mountains like ocean waves. He eagerly pointed out when the leaves started to turn over to take in water from the anticipated rain, and the different species of ducks and other birds. In hindsight he said he was spoiled growing up in such a naturally beautiful and diverse state. He knew I was outdoorsy and made it a point to take me outside as the storm approached, intending to take me to the gazebo by a pond to watch the storm go by and savor the smell of the rain. I regret we didn’t make it in time, but I was moved that he was so eager to show me things that were important to him that he knew I related to.
While we were in town we had visitation with Alice’s daughters. Ed had promised them that he would take them to a scenic hike, which was on our to-do list after meeting some of his family. His family was really casual with us, remarking more on the size of his “tribe” than on his number of partners, despite that they were not actually in agreement with our family structure. We also visited his family’s graveyard, which still feels as foreign a concept to me as a traditional family.
Before we could embark on the nature hike, Gloria had a nervous meltdown. Then her panic made Ginger start crying. This was never a problem before the court case started three years ago, yet these meltdowns have been the underlying bitterness that flavors our visitations. Eventually we did make the hike, wading in the cool pools that carved out the surrounding caves. I was reminded how much I enjoyed hiking, and everything was so beautiful.
After such a long drive to this state and the exercise, we were ready to take a break from the chaos and rest with the company of the majority of our children. However… Gina was particularly distressed about a subject she meant to keep quiet over, but it surfaced anyway. The Girls were severely infested with lice. And it spread. I had lice for the first time in my life (good thing I cut my hair). Gaya, who is under 6 months old, had lice. Nearly everyone got lice. We had to drop $60 unplanned and stay up until 5 am to weed out nits, which pushed back our trip home by another day in order to not get stranded.
The lice on the Girls was so bad, it appeared that it must have been untreated for at least a week, and that’s with the benefit of a doubt. Geraldine did tell us that their grandparents were indeed aware of the infestation, but from what she told us it didn’t sound like anyone sat them down to pull out the vermin. But this is coming from a kid, so who knows right? When our visit with the Girls was over, Alice spoke to her mother about the infestation. And her mother wasn’t surprised. In fact, they had been trying to treat it for months and hadn’t realized that the source was the Boys’ mother’s house. I burn inside over the idiocy of not sharing this apparently known issue before exposing all of us, including a baby! Was it lack of consideration? Was it spite? Were they expecting us not to notice? Can they not understand the severity of the consequences? I cannot understand what their motive was.
The day for court finally came. I marveled at the beauty of the city on the way to the court house, how my favorite shades of blue were everywhere in the sky and buildings. There was a smell that took me back to my childhood like it was quoted by 21 Pilots, and I had flashbacks alternating between two chapters of my childhood. There had been several moments like it throughout our trip, despite that I had never been here before.
I did not permit myself to meditate on the possible results of this hearing or what I might have to say or do and was relieved that all there was for me to do was wait for Edward and Alice outside the courtroom with Bailey. I was also relieved to never be addressed by Alice’s parents; I wasn’t sure that I could withhold the bitterness I had for their shenanigans. I scrolled through Reddit and showed the choice finds to Bailey to pass the time.
Eventually they emerged and Ed showed us how quickly a skyscraper elevator goes to the top floor. Besides the results of the hearing and scheduling for the next one, we discussed how we felt about moving here. I felt that I had nothing holding me back. I broke “no contact” with my mother and sister and am still debating on whether or not I regret it, and the only other family I had in town was Anakin, who was in jail, and I did not mind leaving town before he was out. I still have friends around the world so it’s not a loss for me to move. We would be closer to all the kids and the transition for them would be easier. The grass is literally greener on this side. Edward and I have been wanting to open a table top gaming store and realized this would be a great place to do so.
Since the hearing, we have been able to actually enjoy spending time with Gwendolen and savoring the beautiful weather and lush vegetation that reminds me of my trip to Europe in 2012.