|The Noontide Archipelago
Author: James Hampton PM
A man on the cusp of middle-age, beset by family and work problems, finds peace in a kingdom of enchanted islands. 1 of 3 now posted.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Hurt/Comfort - Words: 133 - Published: 11-19-12 - id: 3075670
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The Noontide Archipelago
To get there, you have to dream about it. To dream about it, you have to go sleep thinking of it. But first, above all else, you have to believe in it.
This is how you reach the Noontide Archipelago. There may be other ways, but this is the one I know.
I've never been interested in wealth and fame, which is just as well because I don't see either of those things coming my way anytime soon. But that's okay. What I have, and what I treasure most, are my wife of the last twelve years and my children, ages eight, eleven, and fourteen. Without them, nothing else matters. Without them, there is nothing else for me.
Like all families we've had—and will continue to have—our ups and downs. As an individual, I have my good seasons and my bad ones, and these may or may not coincide with the wider life of our family. Sometimes my own moods have been completely opposite of theirs.
Right now is a perfect example.
Here's the truth: early next year there is a distinct possibility I won't have a job. For the Company to survive in our present economy, it's going to have to get rid of some people, and I'm pretty sure I'll be one of them. Luckily, I'm not the sole breadwinner in our household—my wife teaches middle school—but the possibility of being laid off has been keeping me awake for many nights now. Looking for work is daunting enough when you're in your early twenties and single, as I was the last time I went job-hunting. Looking for work when you're in your late thirties and married with three children, as I may well be doing in another couple of months, is terrifying.
And then there are other things that weigh on me, subtler yet even more important.
My parents are increasingly frail. When I was a child they seemed indestructible; lately, in the newfound trembling of their hands and the slowness of their walks, I see they are mortal after all.
I worry too about my relationship with my spouse. Something, I sense, has changed. Neither intimacy nor conversation feels the same between us anymore. Are we just getting older? Or is there a weakening of a bond I once believed would last forever? I've started to wonder if we are actually going to make it; I never did that before.
And then there are the kids. If you have children but wish for them, then I wish them for you as well. Just be warned: children wound you. At least that's been my experience. Children wound their parents constantly. If it helps at all, I can tell you that, most of the time anyway, they don't mean to do it; and even if they do mean to do it, then they probably didn't plan to hurt you as badly as they did. But the fact remains that your children are going to say and do things—and cause things to happen—that will break your heart. Get ready. I don't think I'll say much more than that.
So I have to be honest: there are times when I get a little overwhelmed.
I try to hide it. I think, for the most part, I succeed. Maybe my kids notice I'm a little quiet in the evenings, as I sit in my recliner watching television. Or maybe my wife notices that certain tasks around the house or out in the yard—things I normally do regularly—aren't getting done; and that I seem to be taking longer naps than usual on Saturday afternoons. They ask me, in a variety of ways, if I'm all right. I tell them I am. And it's not a lie; rather, it's just not the whole truth. I'm all right because I know that anytime it all gets to be just a little too much for me I can return to the Noontide Archipelago, to rest and regroup.
I do so often. In fact, I went there just last night.