Anthony LoLavad, an author and teacher, has agreed to share his story with The Huffington Post using a pseudonym. He is under-unemployed, recently divorced, and living in his parents' home. You can read his previous posts here and here. The following is Anthony's latest dispatch from the front lines:
Camp ended, band camp was about to begin, so it was time for my youngest son to go back to his mom. This event, which happens frequently (thankfully!) has come to be called "the Hostage Exchange," as I’m in the East and she is in the Midwest. We meet somewhere between our respective homes and either send one child one way, or exchange children (one son goes to college on the east coast).
What was great was having him all summer, even though we came to call this “The Summer of Fail.” While we did do a lot of things together, some things just didn’t work out. Like trying to find a place to go swimming on Fourth of July, or later that day finding a fireworks display that wouldn’t break me. Or an abortive trip to Dave and Buster’s that ran into mountain traffic on the Garden State Parkway that ran clear into the Bronx. Stuff like that. I think it was the two strikes on the Fourth that got him calling it that.
Beyond that, limited finances limited what we could do -- like the fireworks. Man, am I tired of saying that. The swimming, however, was because all the parking lots were full.
We did have fun this summer. We got to jam, him on his band instrument, me on guitar. That was always fun, and he displays a nice ear for improvisation. I tend to keep things in concert “C” for him, (my B Flat or G minor), and he reminds me that he knows more than that, by putting in accidentals and slurs. We went to the museums in the City, something he doesn’t get to do much, as the nearest museum worthy of the name is close to 100 miles from where he lives, and the ones equal to the New York Museums are closer to 200 miles away.
His grandparents also sent him to a day camp for kids like him, and he seemed to, for the most part, really enjoy that. So, the Summer of Fail had more to do with about 10 percent of what we set out to do. Not bad, but he still saw it as the Summer of Fail. So be it.
His mom and I agreed to have the Hostage Exchange at a Panera Bread shop that, according to Google Maps, was off one of the mid-150’s exits on the Ohio Turnpike (AKA Route 80, which I’m on for about 990 of the 1000 miles of the trip. Unfortunately, that Panera closed -- odd as it was the only family restaurant within miles of the exit. Maybe people don’t get hungry at that exit. Maybe their cars break down, as there were three auto repair shops there. At one of them we made an interesting discovery -- an antique car show! Now, I love these, and it beat the hell out of waiting in an abandoned parking lot. It actually felt kind of lucky. Maybe a change in the wind, if you believe in omens (I try not to see Bill Maher on “magical thinking).” Still, a lot of fun for free, including the hot dogs, chips and soda, courtesy of the auto shop.
We called his mom, and she got to the show just as the last of the antique cars was pulling out, a James Bond Austin Martin. For sale, BTW, but even if I wasn’t in the economic soup it would have been out of my budget.
We did the exchange, which took about fifteen minutes of loading luggage from one car to the other, his mom hitting the loo, and saying good-bye. Then we all started on our respective 500-mile trips home. I was missing him already.