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Reflecting on 20 years in Indianapolis

2014 is turning out to be a year of many anniversaries and passages for me. I’ve been sharing many of them; here’s another.

On the circle

I moved to Indianapolis at the end of August in 1994. My 20 years here can be divided into two 10-year periods: before and after my wife decided not to be married to me anymore.

Terre Haute doesn’t get much positive press, but I liked the small-city vibe and enjoyed living there. It was remarkable that I could find work in software development there, as the city wasn’t exactly a high-tech hub. But when the company I worked for started to fail, I knew it was time to go. I wanted to stay in Indiana, and the jobs in my field were concentrated in Indianapolis. So I got a job and an apartment here. I reflected once before here that I struggled to adapt to the bigger-city life, but I think I’ve finally done it.

A year later my girlfriend moved here and we married. Our marriage was a disaster, and it’s better for everybody that it ended. The last couple years we were together and the couple years it took for our divorce to work through the legal system were deeply destructive. They were the worst years of my life. I came out of it with considerable emotional damage that took me a long time to work through.

I suppose the best response to divorce is to build a better life afterward, and that’s what I’ve done. I’ve accomplished a great deal in my career. I’ve pursued my interests: writing, cameras and photography, and the old roads. I’ve made a comfortable home where I’ve raised my sons, at least on the days our custody agreement places them with me.

I’ve doubled down on parenthood. I’d wanted marriage and children from the time I was a teenager. But my marriage was filled with strife, and I was exhausted and depressed so much of the time that I lacked the energy to be the dad I’d always wanted to be. I still think it’s a shame that my sons didn’t get a whole, healthy, and functioning family. But what they have gotten since the divorce is a whole, healthy, and functioning father who has done his best to raise them into fine men.

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5 thoughts on “Reflecting on 20 years in Indianapolis

  1. I was not the greatest mom to my two older daughters when they were little. Like you, I have “doubled down” on parenting since I realized a) how my baggage was affecting them, and b) how important it is for parents to leave their kids with the belief that they are unconditionally loved. The second best time to plant a tree is today.

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    • I think one of the gifts of parenthood, if we choose to accept it, is that it helps us work through some of our baggage. We all have some; some of us have more than others. But to really love our kids, we have to overcome a lot of it because it stands in the way. I’m with you: if I accomplish nothing else with my children, I will have succeeded if as adults they have no doubt that I love them no matter what.

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  2. bodegabayf2 says:

    For a long time, post divorce, my anniversaries always seemed to me more about looking backwards. Remembering happier days, wondering how the train got so far off the tracks, beating myself up over things I could have done better, feeling sorry for myself over wasted years. Lately, they’re all about looking forward. I realize now that I did the best I could under miserable conditions. And the best is all you can do.

    Happy Anniversary Jim!

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    • One of the reasons I started this blog was because I was stuck in lamenting what had happened and was really dealing with some awful stuff. This blog allowed me to live in the present moment: taking some pictures, exploring some old paths, writing some words that were in my head. Being in the present — not ruminating about yesterday, not worrying about tomorrow — has been the best therapy I could ever get.

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