I drive 70 miles, one way, to see my children. It's about an hour and 20 minutes most of which is a straight shot of interstate.
On a "long" visit, I drive the hour plus long/70 miles, pick them up and drive an hour plus long/70 miles back to my house where we all try to reconnect for the day before we pile into the car for the hour plus long/70 mile ride back to drop them off... and I turn around and drive that long trip all by myself back to my house. On a "regular" visit, it's 280 miles, and over 5 hours of travel time all on ONE DAY just so I can be with my children for 3 hours. "He" won't do half of it - and hasn't been ordered to by the court so I have no choice but to do it on my own. It's been a complete solid year of that now. You do the math.
There have been times when I had to pick between gas money for the trip or gas money to get to and from work for the week.
There have been times when I have packed up every bit of food I could rummage from the cabinets and fridge into a cooler to bring with me so I could feed my children dinner and use cash on hand for tolls and gas.
There have been times I could not go see my children because there wasn't gas in the car or money to buy any.
It's all about picking the right option, and about picking out time and picking over funds on a day to day basis. It's about picking up extra hours at work, picking ramen over rice, picking staying home over driving to the library, picking up scrap paper and lost pennies, picking up discarded soda cans to return, picking the shorter time route or the less distance drive, picking the dollar menu items over the meal deals, and picking quantity over quality which they hate or quality over quantity which I hate: no matter what the experts spout.
It's about picking which lie to buy, which shade of rose to paint on my glasses, which child to please, which way to pose the truth, and which fucking breath to breathe, and which peices of our lives to pick up and hold tight and which ones to let die away forevermore.
It's always about picking. I used to pick up the laundry, pick up the legos, pick up the piles of mail and homework and discarded dishes. I used to pick up children, prescriptions, friends, and birthday cakes. I picked up socks, dog poop, used kleenex, and the newspaper. Now I just pick up peices of memories, peices of life.
I keep this little red pic from my son to remind me that no matter what guitar (or what life force) is being used, and no matter what song (or what note) is being played, the difference between just grabbing on with your hands or finely picking with a pick is noticeable. It can create a sound that is worth stopping to listen to instead of a sound to ignore.
Picking matters. Picking on a guitar, or picking this over that in life.
And so I pick.
And I hold onto this red plastic pick that my son has created music with so I can remind myself of that one fact.
Even when the difference is unnoticeable to the untrained, it matters.