It’s Fiction Friday, so you get another post from “guest blogger” and main character from my novel The Myth of Jake, Maggie Carlton.
Ugh. I just looked up the date of my last post. December 11th. Nearly two months ago. This is why I didn’t want to blog in the first place. I need the discipline of an editor or agent breathing down my neck to make my fingers fly across the keyboard.
I won’t use the typical “holidays” excuse, but I will plead a certain level of busy-ness that’s kept me from blogging. I was sick, then Sam was sick, then I got what Sam had. Seriously, living with a young child is a study in germ warfare.
And, also, Tom and I got divorced.
It was all very amicable and orderly. He’s an attorney and although I did have representation, he really guided the process. Texas is what’s known as a “community property” state which means that the law basically assumes that the things we acquired while married are owned 50/50. Tom and I are pretty minimalist – we were more inclined to use our money on travel than home decor. So we didn’t have a lot of stuff to parse out.
The big thing we co-owned was our home. Tom’s staying in it, his girlfriend is moving in, and together they paid me for my half. “Now you and Sam will have the cash to find something
more permanent,” Tom said, the morning he handed me his check and we signed our final papers.
The words “more permanent” kind of pinged around the inside of my brain the whole rest of the afternoon and then, as fate would have it – except I don’t believe in fate – I got a call from an old colleague in New York.
“There’s a fabulous opportunity for you in Australia and I know you love Texas, well, Austin, but seriously, Maggie this is way cool. And Sam could come with you – of course he would because he’s your kid – but really, you have to make this happen. If I were fifteen years younger I’d be pitching myself for the gig except I’m not a writer and, ohmygosh, you have to go!” Carole said when I picked up the phone. Without taking a breath.
After slowing her down and getting the details, I realized why she was so excited. Tom and I co-wrote a book called Wired Differently But Bound Together : Marriage and Asperger’s Syndrome in 2014. It’s based on our experiences, of course, but relies heavily on research from many fields including neuroscience, genetics, psychology and anthropology.
Evidently, a scientist who has studied Asperger’s wants to partner with me on a very deep dive into the neuroscience behind it. He’s brilliant, Carole said, but wonky and needs me to help him develop a layperson’s tone.
And, he’s in Perth, Australia. Where he wants me to join him for six months to a year.
So Carole calls, and I’m thrilled and excited and making plans to get Sam’s passport renewed because I am divorced and I am free and unfettered and … .
“I can’t go,” I told Carole.
“Why the hell not?” she asked. Although ‘hell’ is a paraphrase more suited to general audiences than what she actually said.
“Sam,” I said.
“You take him, silly. They have schools there,” she urged.
“No. I mean, I know that. But, Tom.”
“Oh,” she said.
Tom. The man I’d divorced that very morning. The man who will lie in the grass and stare at the stars until Sam falls asleep. The man who met with a specialist in amphibians at the university when Sam went through an obsessive period on frogs. The man who flew home from a conference in Omaha the first time Sam ran a fever.
The man who was just awarded tenure at The University of Texas.
It dawned on me – and I’m not sure why it never had – that for roughly the next decade and a half, I would never truly be “unfettered” from Tom. Our lives are bound by this little boy of ours until he reaches the age of majority. And, since Tom’s got a job that’s pretty solidly tethered to Austin, I won’t be leaving any time soon.
If you don’t hear from me in awhile, know that I’m out pounding the pavement, looking for a “more permanent” place for me and my kid.
Guest blogger Maggie Carlton is a journalist and author of three books. Her most recent book, Wired Differently But Bound Together : Marriage and Asperger’s Syndrome, was published in 2014. She teaches writing at various schools in the Central Texas area and conducts workshops for adults. She lives in Austin, Texas with her son, Sam.