A couple of million years ago [Ed.: Or 2015. Whichever seems more factual.], I stared down the barrel of a mostly empty nest. At the time, I wondered whether I was still a single dad, or if I should, with the kids all grown, wander down the path of "single man." See where that goes.
That internal debate was unripe. The job(s) made sure the money didn't exist to make any big change by disappearing for six months. The kids came and went. Lather, rinse repeat. There was always at least one dog calling me home every night. Sometimes four. None of them mine.
Some women made brief cameos. Mostly unserious. Not enough to anchor me any more than the kids or the dogs. Then 2018 happened. Two kids, one dog still with me. A seemingly very serious relationship monopolized my interest. My metaphorical long walk in the desert was over. Maybe the urge to get out of Arizona might now be quieted.
Three weeks ago, my life changed. For real. For good. I helped my kid move across the country. No more extra people in the house. The dogs are scattered to the four winds. Seems permanent. All that is left of my little nuclear family in Arizona is the one guy (me) who did NOT want to move here the second time.
Karma: Funny, right? I worked 20 years on that one. Also., you're welcome.
So, that left me and the GF here to figure stuff out. She asked, I answered, going with the truth - my anchors are gone, and I never wanted to be here for the second time anyway.
In any event, the future is here and now. Without the pressure of kids and dog, it suddenly isn't quite so obvious how to proceed. It's like all the great things one thinks of to write about when slogging it out at work - you get home where you're free to think and do and suddenly you're scrambling to hold onto that inspiration that was so vivid and so clear while you were supposed to be focusing on the dull routines of the office.
Suddenly, there is no counterpressure. Nothing to push back against. It's the opposite.
I'll figure it out. We'll revisit this in a year or so and see whether I made it out of this literal long walk in the desert after all.