leaving the land of blinking yellow left arrows

Anyone who has visited North Carolina was probably initially surprised by the left turn yield arrow. You are sitting at a red light waiting in the left turn lane, watching the red arrow, then a yellow blinking left arrow appears on the signal. You are wondering what to do when someone behind you beeps their horn, impatiently waiting for you to complete your left turn through a gap in oncoming traffic. I’ve never seen these anywhere but in North Carolina, but apparently their use is growing elsewhere.

All this is relevant because my son Dan spent his last days as a North Carolinian this week. This past week I drove down to Raleigh, rented a trailer, helped him load the stuff from his apartment (third floor walk-up – too many stairs!), and drove the trailer back to Ohio. He is staying at our house until he finds a place with one or two friends of his (hopefully soon), and he starts his new job on Monday.

Dan moved down to Raleigh nearly two years ago with a job but quickly had to find something else. He started working for a fast food chain and quickly became one of their go-to shift leaders; they were talking about training him to be a trainer for other new shift leaders. However he was at the same time becoming disillusioned with the demands of the job – time requirements, low pay, poor scheduling – and decided he didn’t believe in the corporate philosophy anymore. Over the last couple of months he made the decision to leave, but he had reached another decision point if he would stay in NC.

He was working a lot of odd hours on a typical fast-food schedule; despite being a shift leader he wasn’t being paid very much; he was barely meeting his expenses, and sometime not doing so, and therefore was starting to run up a balance on his credit card; he hardly ever got to see his friends in town, and when he did he couldn’t afford to do things with them. He had hopes of saving up enough money to move out of his then-current living situation and find a place of his own, and possibly even afford a small house someday, but he could see that would not be possible in Raleigh, one of the more expensive cities in the South. He doesn’t have a college degree and doesn’t really want to have tens of thousands of dollars of student loans to pay off, and I can’t say I blame him.

In short I believe he was running out of money, he decided to leave his job, and saw no real future for himself if he continued to stay in NC. He just wasn’t happy there anymore, and he decided to make a change. He told us his plan to return to Ohio on a pre-Christmas trip to visit, explaining his decision, and I think it makes sense for him. He still has his friends here, he is starting a good-paying job with benefits, and he will be able to save some money living here. He still plans on visiting his friends in NC at least once a year when the comic convention comes to town, and will still keep in touch with everyone online.

I hope he doesn’t see his time away as a failure or as wasted time; I don’t think it was. He gained independence, he grew as a person, and he figured things out on his own. I’m glad he is back just because I worried that something would go wrong and it would be a whole day’s drive to go help him; now he will be just a short drive across town. He can visit just for dinner if he chooses, or stay home and be independent when he chooses.

ultraviolet

The vacation was overall pretty good. Nicole started to freak out a little by the 2nd night, as I thought she would. She was getting anxious sharing a small space with us, and she wanted a hotel room of her own (which of course could not happen financially). We solved the problem by changing hotels and finding a two-room suite for slightly higher price than what we had reserved. She was able to have her own space, and her anxiety calmed down a lot. We went to the beach, we saw museums and the aquarium, we visited with Dan a few times, and Nicole got to go to the anime convention. I wrote “PLEH” on the sand in honor of Joey.

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The ugly part of the trip started on the beach. I slathered up with sunscreen on the exposed parts of my upper half, then changed from pants to shorts, and forgot to put sunscreen on my legs. I got a severe sunburn in about 2 hours due to simple stupidity on my part. Being so fair skinned you would think I could remember, but it just slipped my mind. The pain really kicked in on the 2nd day, the liquid-filled oozing blisters appeared on the 3rd day, and the remainder of the trip was spent doing first aid on myself. I still have sore spots that have not healed, but now mostly just dry, damaged skin. I don’t know how long it will take to heal, and I may have increased my chances for cancer. I would post pictures, but I don’t think you want to see that.

Next time we visit, whenever that may be, we will rent a house on the beach or stay in a beachfront hotel. It wasn’t as much fun driving back and forth from the city as it would be if we were right there, having the freedom to go outside whenever you want.

southbound

We will be headed down to North Carolina again tomorrow. The plan is to spend a few days at the beach, a few days visiting with our son Dan, and drive home next Sunday.

I don’t know if everything will go according to plan.

Nicole has been a little unstable the past week, not dangerously so, but just enough that all of us have noticed it. My prediction is that the first few days at the beach will go fine, but when we get to Raleigh she will start being first agitated, then depressed, then in tears. She will be out of her comfort zone, she will miss her cats, and not even the anime convention will make her want to stay. She will be further upset because (I also predict) that Dan will not have much time to hang out with her because he will prefer to hang out with his friends at the anime convention. I bet that we end up going home one or two days early, and everyone will be stressed out.

It is tough to plan anything due to Nicole’s illness. She sleeps at random times, she changes her mind about going places, and she resists keeping appointments with doctors. She won’t wake up when she needs to, but she gets mildly angry when she misses out on something. She chooses to not go out for dinner, but she insists we bring home food for her. It gets frustrating and stressful for Mrs. Fish and I to arrange our lives around her mental state.

Unfortunately, we are staying in a hotel near the beach instead of like last year when we rented a house on the beach. I don’t think it will be quite as enjoyable or relaxing this time, but a little beach time is better than no beach time at all.

fly, fly away

In the meantime, the former man-child-turned-adult has moved out on his own. Rather than moving to a new place nearby, he chose to move to North Carolina. I helped him move his stuff into a storage locker this past weekend. He has a job but no apartment yet, but he is working on that while staying with a friend.

I worry of course, what if things go wrong, what if he loses his job or his car breaks down, we’re too far away to help, etc. I am very good at worrying, and not very good at letting him fly on his own. There is so much I wish I could tell him, but he prefers to figure things out on his own. He needs better social skills, and I’m afraid he will be sheltered and without love.

I really hope this works well for him, but I hope this is not a bad omen. His first act as a North Carolinian was to lock his keys in the car.