Yesterday Amanda and I took a drive up to my cousin's house (also my former sister-in-law as she is married to my ex's brother) in Shirley, Massachusetts (believe it or not, I wasn't even near Salem!) to help celebrate their daughter Vicky's graduation from high school. Vicky is only a few months older than Jamie and will be on her way to college in Vermont to study musical theater at the end of the summer. Pretty impressive! Vicky's sister, Tegan, attends Montserrat where Amanda used to go which gives them a lot to talk about when they get together and always makes me feel badly that Amanda isn't able to attend there anymore.
We had a talk about it on the drive home and Amanda understands completely why she isn't still there and even apologized that I used my retirement fund for her to attend for just a year and wasn't able to go back. The way I look at it is that I was willing to take that gamble and it did give her the opportunity to go out and meet new people as well as opening a lot of doors for me in giving me the chance to meet the folks that I have in Salem. Sure, it cost a lot but I don't consider it money to be thrown away. After all, I was never going to be able to retire on that pittance anyway! Besides, if one of these darned lottery tickets I've been buying lately ever manages to do something other than mock me then I won't have to worry about retirement and I'll be happy to send Amanda back to college to wherever she'd like without the fear of huge student loans hanging over her head!
Speaking of college, Jamie has decided that rather than go to Winnipeg with her friend that they are going to stay in Toronto in the hopes of going to college there and finding a job. Her friend Wryan has a friend Kat who works in placement and she said that she's pretty sure she can get them set; in the meantime they're staying with her and hitting the bricks to make things happen. Knowing that she really wants to be able to stay in Canada and be with her friends there, I sincerely hope that this current plan works out plus Toronto is a lot closer than Winnipeg so if things do work out and she wants me to bring up her things and see where she's at, etc. then I can do that a lot easier than I could if she was in Manitoba. For now I'm going to adopt a wait-and-see attitude and hope for the best - for both girls.
One of the more interesting aspects of last night's graduation party was that I saw my former in-laws for the first time in probably about 12 years; it had been just about that long since Amanda had seen them either. She used to hear from them occasionally when she still lived with her father but has had absolutely no contact with them since she came to live with me in October of 2005. I wasn't sure if it was going to be awkward or not but as it turned out Georgette, my ex's step-mom, came over and gave me a big hug and said how good it was to see me again. She always understood all of the issues that I'd had with my ex and I'm sure she wasn't surprised in the least when I divorced him; it took my former father-in-law a little longer to talk to me but when I left I gave them both hugs and wished them safe travels back to Florida when they return in several weeks. I still think it stinks that they never really seemed to give a hoot about Amanda and Jamie but there's nothing I can do about that; I just wish the girls had been able to have memories of their grandparents like I have of mine. Ah well, at least my Mom is nearby and she's always been good to the girls.
On a final note, my get-together with Barb in July has gone from a single day in Newburyport with a whale watch to that plus three nights at my favorite hotel on the North Shore with fireworks and distracted wanderings and Lord knows what else yet as I'm not done planning. Barb has officially been designated a Distracted Sidekick and I'll also be assigning her "take pictures from the passenger seat" duties for which I will reward her with a glass of wine or two! I am totally looking forward to showing a displaced-Bay Stater some wonderful places in her own home state! Heck, depending on how things go, I may even sneak her over the New Hampshire border too!
Like I said, lots to look forward to!