Monday, May 20, 2013

The Lost Duckling (Separation Anxiety)


The tiny yellow duckling swam frantically along the shoreline of the calm, quiet pond.  It was making bleating noises as it weaved bank and forth between the bank and deeper water a few feet out, always swimming forward with an apparent sense of urgency as it moved down the shoreline...


My estranged spouse, Joan, came to visit today as she was in town for her therapist appointment.  She lives and hour away in Raleigh now and ironically she comes back to our hometown to see her therapist while I drive the hour to Raleigh to see mine.  We had plans for me to take the truck to the recycling center to sell the plethora of aluminum cans that have accumulated here over the last several months, while she drove my van to her appointment.  Afterwards we were going to go to the DMV to transfer the title of the truck to her name.  Rain showers put a damper on those plans today so we will try that again another day but we did have time for a visit, lunch and a walk around the lake with our dogs. 

We are communicating now, about more than just the little things, and we actually had a good conversation today about what has happened with us in the past and what might be in store for the future.  I am glad that we finally, firmly established that we both to divorce (but stay friends and also family), and we might possibly live together again one day as friends.  My life seems to be moving forward now at a rather fast pace and I don't think I need to take a step back into the past in such a way as to impede any progress I am making personally or with my relationship with my boyfriend, so my thinking is now that it is best for us not to move back in with each other at this time.  Also, to obtain a legal divorce in North Carolina a couple must remain separated for an entire year.  During that year you are not even supposed to spend a night under the same roof, although our situation would fall into a grey area there because I do technically have two houses on my property.

She mentioned how much she missed going to eat with my parents and I, feeding the birds in the yard and watering all her flowers.  It is also the little things that I miss about her being here.  The best solution for us both might be for her to get a small apartment here in Rocky Mount, as she is tiring of living in the bigger city, but our main problem is paying for that apartment.  Perhaps I will end up settling with her in the divorce and paying for an apartment for a number of years in lieu of paying her for her portion of the house we own together, but we have not gotten that far yet. 

I think the key element here is that Joan and I are talking again and getting along, as I have reported in the last couple of blog posts.  She has recently started acknowledging me as Tammy, not just Tam as I reported in the last post.  She made one slip today and quickly caught herself, correcting it to Tammy.  Also, we are now actually talking about substantive matters and making some progress towards figuring out how to settle our marriage and move forward with whatever kind of relationship we will have.  Time and many more conversations will lead us to our destination but at least we are communicating and I have learned that communication is key to any successful relationship.  If we had figured that out sooner we might not be in the position we are today, but that can be said about so many things in both of our lives.  All we can do is go from here and move forward.  We will find our place eventually.


So, we drove the dogs over to the lake to walk them around the half mile shoreline path  as a light rain fell intermittently.  When we were about a fourth of the way around, I noticed a little duckling swimming along the shore all alone.  Most of the ducks born this spring are almost fully grown and even now stay close together with their mother and siblings.  To see a duck this small and all alone was odd , so we all stopped to check it out.  It was a yellow duckling so it must have born of the white ducks that inhabit the pond and share the habitat with colorful Mallards and Canadian Geese.  We looked around and saw no other white ducks but there was a family of Mallards, a mother and several young, swimming along the shore towards us. 

The little yellow duckling swam out deeper in the pond to avoid the Mallards, who seemed to want nothing to do with the loud little loner.  Joan and I walked a little farther down the shore and one point I stopped and looked back and there was our little yellow friend, still making her way along the bank.  It was as if it was following us so we stopped and waited for it to catch up.  When I would approach it on the bank, it veered out to deeper water, but kept chugging along and kept making bleating noises. 

We figured out that it was lost and probably looking for its mother, but no similar ducks could be seen.  Had someone dropped off a pet duckling at the park that they no longer wanted?  Had its parents flew away to another pond?  Had they simply become separated somewhere in the big pond.  Joan and I talked of trying to rescue the little duck and thought back to the time we lived in a trailer with a pretty, little pond in the back yard.  Maybe we could have rescued it and the duck could have had a home there, but we don't live there anymore.  We live as apart as the little yellow duckling and its lost family were at that moment.

Slowly, we made our way around the lake with the tiny duckling keeping pace with us.  Its little legs were paddling at a frantic pace and I worried that it might not be able to sustain the energy to make it all the way back around to the parking area, where we could not see all sorts of ducks being fed by the park goers.  People constantly stand right in front of a big sign that says  Do Not Feed The Waterfowl and throw bread and other goodies out to the ducks.  They may be breaking the rules but the ducks seem to eat pretty good so nobody complains. We walked past a couple of Mallards and some loud Canadian Geese, who did not seem to appreciate either us or the little duck swimming by.

As we approached the parking area, we noticed "our little duck" swimming out to deeper water.  Then we noticed a lone, large white duck swimming out from the feeding area and quacking.  As they got closer to each other they both became louder and as soon as the little duckling caught up with the bigger duck, she began to follow behind her closely.  The tiny, lost yellow duckling had found its mother!  We watched for another couple of minutes and another large white duck approached and they all began to swim together in harmony.  The family was reunited.  All was well so, with smiles, we loaded the dogs into the van and drove home.


On the way home I mentioned to Joan that perhaps the lost duckling finding its parents symbolized her beginning to find her way back home.  It was just a spur of the moment thought and upon reflection, we both agreed that it did not symbolize anything.  It was just a chance to witness something cool in nature, something that neither one of us had ever seen before, although she mentioned that it was similar to things she has seen on television nature shows.  She and I share sort of a childlike vision of the world and, at our best times, some common interests in things like nature and an enthusiasm for the appreciation of life's little things.  I am glad that the tiny duckling found its family and I am glad to have Joan still in mine...