Dave and I are typical. We are essentially the same age, although I am 1 year and 3 months older, which he LOVES to remind me of every year on my May birthdate when I am 2 years older for the summer until he “catches up” with me and is only a year behind. It turns out that marrying older women runs in both our families. His mother is older than his father and my grandmother was older than my grandfather, so we didn’t get any crap on that when we were dating.
We met in college and got married after Dave graduated in 1981 from Cornell University.
He graduated, we got married, moved, both started new jobs and bought a house all in a month! I now wonder if we set the tone for the drama to come later in our lives and I look back on it, not with regret, but with the sense that perhaps I could have been a little less “efficient” and “enjoyed the journey” a bit more.
We moved from beautiful Ithaca, in upstate New York, to the Washington, DC burbs in Maryland. I didn’t want to leave Ithaca. I loved it there. But Dave hated the cold and didn’t have nearly as much fun as I did. Being in the Electrical Engineering program at Cornell meant he was buried in his studies. I, on the other hand, had a job I enjoyed, friends and a social life. I often say, I had all the fun of being an Ivy League Student and NONE of the responsibilities. It was a wonderful time for me. But we picked up and made our move to Washington, DC, which I also loved, as a city. However, I never got to live in Washington. I got stuck in the burbs and I hated it for a very long time. I discovered that I loved the country, small towns, and big cities. I could have any of them. I’m a military brat, so adaptability and flexibility is something ingrained in my very existence. Living out in the middle of nowhere with everyone else piled on top of each other with nothing to do where cars are required, was not something, I discovered, that I cared for. I learned to appreciate fully why people live in the suburbs and what it has to offer in raising your children and making friends, but it is still on the bottom of my list of places I would choose to live. Whenever I would get annoyed with Dave, I would remind him, that I didn’t want to move here, that he said we were moving to Washington, DC and that I had yet to get anywhere close to living in DC! However, I was committed, to our marriage and his success in his career as a telecom engineer. As a seasoned military brat, I adapted and made the best of it, and I did appreciate the people I met and the experiences we had living there for 27 years.
We have two children, our son, Hudson (named after my father, Lt Col James Webster Hudson) and our daughter, Montana. They kept us busy with all their activities and typical suburban lives. I worked on and off, but I learned early in my marriage that I was sold a bill of goods growing up in the 70′s with the idea that we (women) could do it all! In the words of Cokey Roberts, “We can do it all, just not at the same time!” Dave’s profession was clearly the big income producer for us and I began to find that while we could both work, we couldn’t both have “careers”. Its just too hard to coordinate conflicting priorities when you are running a home and raising children. I took a back seat to his career for my own sanity and that of our family. It was the best decision I made, with all its obvious pitfalls, it was the greatest good for our family. I kept busy by getting involved in my community and did a lot of volunteer work in areas, that benefited my family and community; in addition, I worked part-time in other areas that generated some money for the kids, our household, and me. Because I was involved and I had two active and charismatic children, I became, like many parents, “Hudson and Montana’s Mom”. There are still people who I’m sure don’t know my first name – a common plight of the suburban parent. However, it has its perks and it is a role I enjoyed. So, dreams of a career for “Lori”? Nah, that became just a pipe dream, but that’s ok.
After my mother passed away in November 2001, Dave lost his job, along with most of the other telecom engineers during the dot com bust. For some reason, the satellite industry tanked and disappeared very dramatically. Dave had risen from a hardware designer out of college for Digital Communications Corp, in Germantown, MD, to a Senior VP of Business Development with a large company (Loral’s communications company) and, then, POOF, it was gone! It was pretty shocking. Our son had just started high school at a private school in Washington, DC. We had a BIG suburban home in a great neighborhood and I wasn’t working. I was honestly still in the throws of nothingness after my mother passed away. I can tell you that when she became ill this last time, I was working part-time and homeschooling our children. I got Hudson through middle school and off to private high school and then had put my daughter back in public school in the middle of 6th grade, due to my mom’s illness. I couldn’t homeschool them very well from a cell phone at Bethesda Naval Hospital. I would often get a call with them fighting and killing each other while I was trying to get someone to help my Mom who couldn’t breathe or had some other healthcare crisis! It was not fun, nor pretty, but was, in fact, comical in a twisted sort of way. You will find throughout my adventure that I find humor in things that aren’t really funny. “If you don’t laugh you will cry” is a very true statement for me and how I look at things.
After my Mom died, and Dave lost his job, he insisted I go back to work and I insisted I wasn’t ready, the kids needed me, I didn’t think I could find a job, part-time, close by, etc. Well, he found me a job. I kid you not. I got an email thread between him and an acquaintance from NASA that he knew through our son’s baseball activities, and this guy’s former professor at University of Maryland. The final comment was, “Yes, we are desperate, have her send her resume right away.” Damn. Long story, short, I was hired by a wonderful man who is the director of a energy research center at the University of Maryland in College Park. Professor Reinhard Radermacher. I’m now a Terp (short for Terrapin, which isn’t really a turtle, but a tortoise, native to the Maryland area). The good news was, I had healthcare benefits for our whole family, it was a great “re-entry job” for me, a win-win, I could go back to school (paid for), and finish my Bachelor’s Degree (I have an Associates), and in 2 years, my children can attend UMD tuition free. Ok, OK, so I was back in the fray. After the first day, I came home and said, “Well, nothing has really changed…you have the hard workers, the not so hard workers, the incompetents, the gossip, etc.” I loved it.
Dave reinvented himself and got into the wireless Internet business with some old telecom buddies and did some work for AOL, EarthLink, Motorola and others. It was tough on us, but he was excited about his projects and I was happy he was working and we somehow muddled through it all, with lots of support from our friends and family. But it was hard on Dave. Once he was diagnosed with Cancer, it was not hard to look back and see just how insane everything had become. I had inklings of it and would get on his case about his eating habits and my concerns, but I was busy and involved with my own responsibilities and I expected him to take care of himself. He was driving each week to Philadelphia and living up there in a hotel room, eating poorly and then driving home for the weekend. Eventually he was doing the same thing by air, down to Atlanta each week while working for Earthlink’s wireless division as a Director. Earthlink got a new CEO (theirs had passed away), and once again, POOF, it was all gone!
Then he got this wonderful job offer in Elk Grove, CA near where I graduated from high school some 30+ years earlier. Imagine that! So we decided to ditch the kids before they ditched us and go for it. Well, I decided. I’m still not so sure Dave was fully into the idea of moving 3,000 miles away. Remember, I’m the military brat and Dave is, well, Dave – he likes things the same and predictable. He does like warm weather though, so my friends and I sort of ganged up on him and he was extremely excited about the work. I don’t know really how much I pushed him, or if I just confirmed his decision for him. Oh well. Such is married life.
Anyway, that is the short story of how we ended up in northern California in 2008.