Vegas, part 2

I had a lot of time to myself with not a lot planned on this trip…which equates to having a lot of time to overthink and worry.

While I was in paradise, my 3 closest friends were at home suffering. My best friend Cindy was getting attacked for standing up for something she believes in. My friend Lisa lost her child in a car accident while I was gone. My friend Jen has terminal cancer.

It wasn’t as much fun in paradise alone worrying about things I couldn’t control. I’m not used to being alone, but I think I will have to start getting used to it.

I spent time alone at the pool and watched people. I saw the lifeguard pick his nose and riffle through his emergency bag in boredom. Did he think he was invisible?

There was a man who was alone listening to his music on a speaker over the music that was playing getting drunk with a bucket of beer. Out of character, I really liked a song he was playing and approached the man asking what the song was. I didn’t know it would result in a deep conversation about the meaning of life.

Why are you here? Have you ever questioned your existence? Do you believe in God? If God exists, why does he allow bad things to happen to good people? What are your thoughts on other religions? I’m still waiting on a sign that God is here…

It felt good to have a meaningful conversation. I left the pool as the man was ordering another bucket of beer.

I was feeling anxious again. It was all encompassing. I called home and my husband said that he was having a hard time and wished I was home. We just moved and put our old house on the market. Both of my children were leaving that weekend on separate trips. I was not going to be home to help them pack.

My son Alex is going on a music trip touring Europe. He called me that night. He just turned 18 last week and is a smoker. He is planning on taking his vape on the trip. He was worried it would be against the rules and regulations of the trip. I have extreme paranoia that he is going to be kicked off the trip for being a dumb ass. But he is 18 and can legally smoke if he wants to. Then he said when he gets back he is planning on working 3rd shift at the vape shop. My daredevil hell raiser son will be the death of me! I started praying awhile ago that he has a kid just like him someday. I feel bad because he always dates the sweetest girls.

My daughter Arabella is on a church youth group trip out of state. The day the kids left, the youth director resigned. She recently got divorced and moved in with her boyfriend. It is tearing up the church. Some people are taking the stand that it is not Biblical for the youth director to divorce her husband and move in with her boyfriend…others are saying that her private life is her own business.

The youth director made it sound like she was forced to resign. No one asked her to. My friend Cindy was the one that asked if marriage was not sacred in the church anymore. She asked how the youth leader was going to explain her new relationship status to the children she was leading. Cindy never called her to resign. Now everyone is attacking Cindy for questioning. They are calling her judgmental. They are calling her a hypocrite because she is divorced.

What most don’t know about Cindy is that her ex-husband started another family on the side while he was married to her. This is very painful for Cindy because she has children with her ex and wants them to view marriage as sacred with the backing of the church.

Why can’t my life and the lives of my loved ones be worry free???

Next time it will be more about Vegas, I promise..

Moral dilemma 3

We recently found out that our youth director at church moved in with her boyfriend. She divorced her husband a couple of months back and shortly thereafter moved in with her new boyfriend.

This has been tearing the church apart.

There are those that say it doesn’t matter what she does outside of her job. If she leaves, then this group will leave with her. There are others that say they don’t want the moral leader of their children showing them that it is okay to leave your husband and take on with another man. If she doesn’t resign from her position, another group will leave.

I am not judgmental or a prude, but I personally believe that the person who is getting paid with my tithe money should ascribe to the moral teachings of the church.

I personally do not care what two consenting adults decide to do in the bedroom, I don’t. I could care less about the living arrangements of my child’s math teacher. But they better be good at teaching math.

I wouldn’t expect a drug and alcohol counselor to be out getting drunk in the possible presence of clients. There are certain things that are expected when you take on certain job positions.

So the battle begins…the ripping and tearing starts.

I feel so torn. I really like our youth director. She is great with the kids. I even like the guy she is living with more than her husband. But that is beside the point. I can’t make decisions based on feelings.

To make matters worse, our choir director and organist recently resigned from their positions due to an unrelated matter. I have become close to the organist. She has been teaching my son how to play piano the last couple years. My son has always been a difficult teen to raise and she has been a very positive impact in his life. It pains me deeply to see her go.

Maybe it is time to find a new church home. It has gotten to the point where I don’t even want to go to church anymore. I feel so much sorrow over this.

If my children decide they want to be in a relationship, I want them to marry one person and stay married. I don’t want them to be like our youth director…several broken marriages with children from each marriage growing up in broken homes acting like everything is rosy living with a new guy.

Would I still love and accept my children even if they don’t live the life I want for them?? Absolutely, without a doubt!! I made the decision to raise my children Christian. It is not easy and I want a church that will back me up on this. Is that too much to ask?

I am not even opposed to people cohabiting, or am I? Last weekend Angel’s best friend from out of town came home with her live in boyfriend. They wanted to stay at our house for the night. I really struggled with what to do. My daughter Angel is an adult and today my son is an adult. I have a really hard time seeing my adult children and their friends as adults. To complicate things, Angel’s friend also belongs to our church. I told Angel that her friends were welcome to stay but I would be setting up separate sleeping arrangements for them.

Would I respond differently if the adults living together were my age? Would I respond differently if I didn’t still have a child in my house watching every decision I make and using that as a moral compass?

Honestly, I really don’t care what other people decide to do. It is no concern of mine. But if that person is tasked with the paid position of teaching my children Christian morals, I feel really uncomfortable with that person not practicing what they preach.

Is nothing sacred anymore, even within the church??

Fortune cookie wisdom #6

Advice comes in all forms; some help you and some hurt you.

My husband received this fortune cookie over the weekend. He wouldn’t let me read it and teased me about it for hours until I started giving him advice. **Please note that I said hours before the unsolicited advice arrived.** Once I started giving him advice, he handed over the fortune cookie laughing. He knows how much I love giving advice.

I am good at giving unsolicited advice. Turn in your homework. Get good grades. Drive carefully. Be sure to turn off the lights when you leave the room. Should you be eating ice cream before supper? You will find things easier if you clean your room.

Hey, sometimes people even ask me for advice. Notice that my friend Cindy asked me, instead of her husband, to help her pick out a dress for her son’s wedding.

Now before I start a ‘Dear Alissa’ blog, I’m going to tell you something shocking. There was a time in my life when I didn’t give good advice.

Well there goes my opportunity to make $$ reading two paragraphs of someone’s life and telling them in one paragraph to trust their gut instinct or follow their heart. Damn, I really wrecked that for myself by coming clean with you.

It happened a long time ago back when I was in college. There wasn’t a way to get advice online, so we actually had to rely upon the opinions of real people.

One of my best friends from high school and roommate, Mary, asked me for some advice. She was dating a guy that dropped out of high school and was threatened by her going to college. He had no money and couldn’t hold a job for long. He slept on a dirty mattress (without bedding) on the floor in someone else’s house. His hobbies included drinking and doing drugs.

Now Mary wanted to get married to this guy. Her parents and family advised her not to. She asked me what I thought she should do…Do you love him?? What could possibly go wrong? I mean, love is all you need. Right??!?

Several years down the road, Mary had dropped out of college and worked several jobs to help support her 3 kids because her husband didn’t have a job. She lived in a house that later became condemned. Her daughter had health problems because of the lead paint on the walls. Her husband still had his hobbies of drinking and drugs. He had no interest at all in being a family man.

Not surprisingly, the marriage ended in divorce.

I wish I could’ve given Mary the advice I would’ve given her now. Stay in college. That guy is a loser and is no good for you. You can do better than that.

I wish I had the knowledge and experience then that I have now.

So, here I sit sequestered to a life of giving my family unsolicited advice that they probably won’t heed. But at least most of it is good advice.

The wrath of Evelyn?

I wasn’t going to write about this, but maybe it’s a sign.

I am rather confused on how to read it.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence.

I’m not a very superstitious person.

Ah, who am I kidding?? I get all bent out of shape from a bad fortune wrapped in a crappy tasting cookie.

It started last week on the evening of the first snowstorm in April. We scheduled an appointment for our realtor to come out to get some pricing together on our house. A distant cousin of mine is interested in buying our house before we put it on the market.

The snowstorm prevented the realtor from coming out on the scheduled night.  

I jokingly said to my husband that maybe we weren’t meant to sell the house to my cousin.

After the realtor came out, we scheduled a meeting with my cousin for this past weekend.

This past weekend we got hit by Blizzard Evelyn, the biggest snowstorm our area has seen in over 100 years.

Now Evelyn was my grandma’s sister and my distant cousin’s grandmother.

Another sign, perhaps?

I was fairly close to my Aunt Evelyn. When my kids were little, I often visited her with my grandma.

I felt like I had a lot in common with Evelyn. She was a thin wispy woman that always seemed to worry. Her house was always clean. She had a hard time sitting still. She loved visiting with the kids. Sometimes when we were ready to leave, she would open up the door to a side room with a waiting 10 course homemade meal. She was a lonely widow. How could we say no?

I miss my visits with my grandma and her sister. They have both been gone a long time now. I have remembrances of both around my house. My grandma helped plant the trees in my backyard and I have my aunt’s paintings on my walls. It was soothing to think that maybe a relative would buy our house and the memories of these sweet ladies would live on.

I always envied my cousin. She was the only child born to her parents after over a decade of infertility. She was a miracle baby, a beautiful princess. Her parents spoiled her rotten.

As a child, I wanted her life. I would’ve given anything to be her.

Looking back, I’m glad that my hardest years in life were my childhood. It gave me strength, made me tough, and built my character. If the best years of your life are your childhood, everything else is downhill. How can you be happy when you’ve had it so much better before?? But, of course, I want my children to have a great childhood unlike my own. What is disservice!

I don’t want my cousin’s life anymore. Maybe now she wants my life.

She got married and started a family a couple of years after I did. But, unlike me, she left her husband and children behind for another man. Her family was devastated. Since then several years passed. She is now living with a much older man who just left his wife of many years.

My cousin’s story is not all that much of a rarity anymore. Staying married for a long time to the same person is.

My grandma and her sister married young and stayed with their husbands until death. It seems easy, ideal actually, to have that one true love that you stay with through thick and thin.

No one I know really wants their children to marry young. Finish college first. Then be out on your own for awhile. I am guilty of wanting the same thing for my children. Yet we want them to find that one true love that they stay with for their whole entire life like our grandparents did. It’s not practical.

Last week, Paul and I ran into an acquaintance who told us she just got divorced after over 20 years of marriage. Right now I can think of only one other couple we are close friends with that are on their first marriage and have been married longer than us. That is sad.

Something is broken in our society and I don’t know how to fix it. The only thing I can do is be a good example of marriage.

But sometimes I feel like my marital bliss is smacking the faces of those who failed.

Ha ha, I finished the marathon but you dropped out of the 5K. Is that how they view us??

It’s hard to get good marriage advice. It’s just as tough as getting good parenting advice. Sometimes I feel like people are giving me marriage advice similar to parenting advice…they tell me how to raise toddlers when I have teenagers. I am beyond those years now. I want something meatier than just make time for each other or communication is important. I’ve searched, but haven’t found. Good luck, you’re off the charts now. After 20 years, how do you take it to the next level??

My cousin wants to move into my house to be closer to her children. How can that be a bad thing?

But then the biggest blizzard ever recorded in over 100 years hit the weekend we were supposed to show my cousin our house…BLIZZARD EVELYN!!

Is this some sort of sign?? Did we invoke the wrath of Evelyn?? Is someone else supposed to buy our house?

Evelyn, I don’t care if I sell my house to a bunch of satanists as long as I sell my house!! Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit. But weren’t you when you dumped all of that snow on us?

Now if we get another snowstorm this weekend when we rescheduled the visit with my cousin, I am really going to start worrying.

Maybe the whole thing is a coincidence, but it all seems rather bizarre.

Or maybe I’m reading it all wrong.

Maybe it’s a sign that we should move to Florida.

Thanksgiving leftovers

The day before Thanksgiving, I spoke to my mom on the phone. She told me that my dad was going to drive 8 hours round trip to drop something off at my brother Mark’s house, but he wasn’t going to come over to my house for Thanksgiving.

I said, “Let me get this straight, dad is going to drive 4 hours to see Mark but he won’t drive 20 minutes to come over and eat a meal that he doesn’t have to prepare?”

My dad showed up for Thanksgiving. Then after the meal, he left without saying good-bye.

Later in the day, we were playing Loaded Questions and everyone had to guess my response to the question asking who I always wondered if they liked me or not. Some people said Aunt Grace or my sister-in-laws. No one guessed that I put my dad down as my answer. It’s sad that I feel unsure if my dad likes me.

It seems ironic that Paul never had a dad and I always wondered if my dad likes me while we were surrounded this Thanksgiving with men that had estranged relationships with their children.

Paul’s step-dad Darryl and my Uncle Rick were guests in our house this Thanksgiving. They weren’t invited anywhere else. Their stories are similar.

Darryl was previously married to a woman that he had two children with. When his children were little, his wife left and took the boys with her several states away. Ever since I’ve known Darryl, he has wanted a relationship with his sons that was not reciprocated. The only time that they called him regularly was when they were incarcerated. Darryl was the man that stood patiently by his wife’s side as she was dying of cancer. Darryl loves to spend time with his step-grandchildren, my kids. Darryl married my mother-in-law when Paul was in his upper 20’s, so he never thought of Darryl as a dad.

My Uncle Rick has a similar story. He is recently divorced not of his choosing. His adult children all decided to side with their mother instead of him. They also cut themselves off from all of his family. My Uncle Rick is one of those nice guys that women seem to walk over. He wears his heart on his sleeve but would give the shirt off of his back. He brought a ‘F off’ letter that his daughter wrote to him for us to read at our house.

 

Paul and I would’ve given anything to have a dad like Darryl or Rick, yet their kids want nothing to do with them. They are wonderful men. I’ve known them long enough to know that. I just don’t get it.

I find it heartbreaking when kids feel like they have to pick sides when their parents divorce. Why can’t they have both parents in their lives??

Maybe someday their kids will come around.

Until then, we are thankful for your broken, discarded, leftover dads.

 

Day 9: Homeward bound

DSC_0366

This morning it is clear as glass on the bay. I’ve never seen so many fishing boats on the water. I am ready to go home but feel sad that our trip is coming to an end. Oh, to sleep in my own bed again!

It was a remarkable time. Our vow renewal ceremony on Rock Island was the highlight of our trip. We were surrounded by strangers that became friends. There was hardly a dry eye at the ceremony. It was so beautiful.

Then something unexpected happened, right after the ceremony we talked about divorce. A happy marriage seemed to remind several of their bad experiences.

Why did our marriage make it and theirs didn’t??

Both guys said that many people warned them not to marry the person they did but they didn’t listen. I could’ve easily been in the same boat. I met Paul when I was 21. Before I met him, I was engaged twice.

The second guy I was engaged to was Mac. We were going to fly to Vegas to get married but it cost too much for the plane tickets. I bought my own engagement ring because Mac had bad credit. Why did I ever like the guy anyway??

In every relationship I was in, I was the pursuer. I liked the chase, the challenge. But being the chaser, I was never sure if the one that I pursued liked me as much as I liked him. Mac was different. He relentlessly pursued me. He made me feel like he couldn’t live without me, that I was special. It was all flattering at first…until he started pushing me around. My story could’ve been different if that plane ticket wasn’t so expensive (and from a lot of prayers from my mother).

I listened to their stories and I felt sad…I felt sad for one couple in particular. The guy said that being married the first time forever ruined marriage for him. His long term live in girlfriend was never married before but would love to marry him. It was her birthday the last day of the trip. I felt bad because I didn’t know soon enough to get her a present. It had to be hard for her to watch my ceremony knowing that she most likely will never be a bride. I wanted to make her birthday special for her but didn’t feel like I could.

The thought crossed my mind that it could be her last birthday. My new friend, although just a couple years older than me, has cancer. She just went through several rounds of Chemo and was scheduled for an 8 hour surgery later in the month. This sailing cruise was her last hurrah before the most difficult part of her grueling fight. She gave her boyfriend a way out but he decided to stay by her side. I am happy for that..

The last day all of these thoughts swirled through my mind.

Once again the sky grew dark. We made it back just in time. We unloaded our things from the boat just as thunder boomed in the distance. A strong storm with hail was coming. The winds picked up. We sat in the clubhouse watching the storm come in worrying about George who was far behind us with engine trouble.

Even though our paths were different, we all made it home safely.

The thickness of water

Last week I ran into my aunt at the gym..I can almost hear you whisper to yourself…who cares?…Maybe if I told you that my aunt and uncle are going through a nasty divorce after being married over 30 years…my uncle is blood, my aunt is the water…that is the thick and thin of it..

When I saw my aunt at the gym, I gave her a big hug…I am the person that shies away from hugs, not the person that seeks out people in sweaty gym clothes to hug.

I didn’t even take her side…she wanted to leave…he wanted her to stay.

I am not sure why at the moment I hugged her after all of the hurt she caused.

I miss the times I visited them when I was a child…Nostalgia for the moments past…And, yes, I miss her.

When I was a child, there weren’t many happy moments at home. But there were many happy moments at my aunt and uncle’s home.

My mom would take my brothers and I to their house on a hot summer night and we would swim until dark. Afterwards, we would stay up late watching scary movies like Poltergeist.

I love swimming and scary movies. It reminds me of the happiest days of my childhood.

Sometimes I wonder if we like certain things just because they remind us of a good feeling…and perhaps the opposite could be true too…dislike for things that are reminders of bad times..

Then I wonder…what if certain periods of our life are so difficult that even good ‘things’ remind us of bad times…Can that trigger feelings of sadness?

Can we like things that we wouldn’t otherwise like just because of memories of doing those things with loved ones, like fishing for example…Or do we simply like what we like irregardless of relationships, memories, and emotions…

Here I go off on a thinking tangent again

Maybe one of the reasons I saw my aunt at the gym was because of my love of swimming. We joined the gym again so I could practice swimming for the half Iron, something I probably won’t have even thought of trying if I was afraid of water.

Sometimes I love being on water more than land.

I certainly did not learn that from my parents..

My mother doesn’t swim and is afraid of water.

The only time my dad went swimming he terrorized me by pulling me under, throwing weeds or death stuff at me, or dragging me out into the weeds and forcing me to stand there even though I was afraid.

One of my most traumatic childhood memories is of being in charge of watching my younger brothers in the water when I was 6. I stood speechless in terror unable to call for help while my youngest brother struggled for air, choked on water, and almost drowned…My mom left me in charge for only a few minutes…Minutes that could’ve lasted forever…

I should be terrified of water.

Instead I love the feel of water around me. I love the bubbles that flow through my fingers. For some reason, I associate water with happiness instead of fear..

I have to wonder if my love for swimming sprouted from those hot summer nights at my aunt and uncle’s years ago.

It is sad to see their marriage come to an end. I have always known them to be together..But maybe, just maybe, there will be more stolen sweaty hugs at the gym. For a few moments, it can take me back to those warm (sweaty) happy summer nights when they were still together…back to some of the happiest days of my childhood.

 

 

Same road, different paths

A few days ago, my neighbor committed suicide.

This past week after my kids got home from school, Angel told me that she thought something was wrong. “Mom, there are a lot of cars in the neighbor’s driveway. There is also a police car in the driveway. He never had that many cars in his driveway, even for Christmas or Easter.” I looked over that way in curiosity, but dismissed any concerns because I saw the neighbor the day before and he was fine.

It all started a couple of houses down a couple of months before. Our neighbor had a rummage sale on a cool fall weekend. He told us that his wife of over 20 years left him for another man. They never had children, but were delighted to see ours when we stopped by year after year on Halloween. We looked through his rummage sale of broken dreams. He sold empty picture frames where wedding pictures, happy moments, and vacations used to be. He sold games, his and her costumes, wine glasses, and kitchen items. Then after that weekend, the driveway was empty up until a few days ago.

 I frequently saw our neighbor out on the road. When we first moved here, he walked his two dogs by our house. Then after awhile, he walked with one dog. That dog would walk slowly and the man would wait patiently. Then after awhile, the man walked by himself. He was a large man and every time he went by my dog would bark. He walked in all kinds of weather sometimes with weights. He wore a blaze orange hat. Every time he saw me he was friendly. He noticed when I ran longer runs and asked if was training for something special. I told him about the marathon. He wished me luck.

There are a couple of people that I see often while running and he was one of them. I spoke to him a few weeks back. I think it was about the weather. I told him that I couldn’t wait for warmer days as I ran by. Then I saw him the day before he died. We were going in separate directions on the same road. 

I feel sad that he was so lonely and unhappy that he took his life. I will miss seeing him on the road. 

The travel diaries, Omaha

The story of how we ended up in Omaha one year during Thanksgiving winds around a rocky path. Before Paul and I met, he was best friends with Dwayne. Dwayne was a man that looked like what you would picture Jesus to look like. He had rugged good looks with shoulder length brown hair that glowed a perfect shade of brownish red in the sun. He was a smart man who loved to discuss philosophy, theology, and psychology. He was fun loving, liked to joke and play cards. But Dwayne had one major personality flaw that inevitably led him down a path of destruction unaware. Dwayne would do anything for a dare.  One night while camping with friends someone dared him to dive off a dock near the campgrounds. Dwayne accepted the dare and dove into water that was only a couple of inches deep. Instead of costing him his life, it left him paralyzed from his neck down.

Before his accident, Dwayne had married his high school sweetheart too young. They had two children and divorced. When Dwayne had his accident, he was with Tammy. I met Dwayne a couple of years after the accident while he was with Tammy. Now Tammy was an evil person. But you know how it goes when your best friend dates someone you don’t like, you tolerate that person. Plus there was never a dull moment with Tammy around.

Tammy had some major character flaws herself. First, Tammy liked to steal things. Once when we went out to eat for Dwayne’s birthday, Tammy went around to every table and took the fake flower displays. She shoved a stack of fake roses into her purse. When it was time to leave, the manager told Tammy she needed to give the flowers back which caused her to make quite the scene. Nothing unusual for her. 

Second, Tammy liked to cheat. Tammy had two sons, one that she had with her ex husband and the other with Dwayne after the accident. Ok, there was absolutely no way that Dwayne could have fathered a child as a quadriplegic, but he was listed as the father on the birth certificate. One year at Christmas time the true story came out about her other son as well. Tammy and her ex were fighting on the phone while we were there. She told her ex that the boy that he thought was his for the past 10 years wasn’t his son, wished him a merry Christmas, and hung up on him. Tammy was just being Tammy. Tammy eventually got together with Dwayne’s caregiver and moved into the apartment next door. Her bedroom and Dwayne’s bedroom shared the same wall. He could hear them at night. Then she tried to keep his “son” from him. Tammy was not a nice person.  

Parenting was very challenging for Dwayne as well due to his handicap. One time when he was still with Tammy, Dwayne and their baby accidently got locked in the van. It was twenty below outside and they were locked inside the van without heat. This happened over the weekend. Tammy was desperate to find someone to unlock the doors. Dwayne sat inside helplessly watching. It could have gotten dangerous really fast. Dwayne also had issues parenting his two older children. His little girl loved to sit on his lap but he could never hug her back. He couldn’t drive them anywhere or do anything. It was at this point that I saw Paul play the part of dad. He took Dwayne’s son Dan fishing, a hobby that he used to share with Dwayne before the accident. We took the kids to the zoo and had them stay with us sometimes. When I first started dating Paul, it was attractive to see him being a positive role model for the kids. He still was caring towards his best friend even after his friend made some terrible mistakes in life. He also had no problems treating his friend like a regular person, going out with him even if it meant emptying his bag or feeding him. He was not squeamish, nor did he complain. His compassion was touching.

Dwayne was the best man in our wedding. A couple years later, Paul was the best man in his wedding. His new wife had some major flaws, like having an absolute filthy house and allowing her children to run wild. But I have to give her credit for marrying a man that she would never have a physical relationship with and had to care for. Six weeks after he was married in his church, Dwayne was buried there. He had a heart attack and died in his 30’s. He will be gone for 15 years this year. What an avoidable tradegy that affected so many lives.

Fast forward time a bit more, Dan grew up and asked Paul to stand up in his wedding in Omaha. He wanted Paul to be there to represent his father. We flew into Omaha for the wedding over Thanksgiving. Dan’s in-laws welcomed us like we were family. We ate Thanksgiving meal there and played a lot of games. They seemed to have a very close knit family. His wife’s father was dealing with cancer. He showed us pictures of himself, a big guy at 300 lbs before cancer. He lost 200 lbs and was skin and bones. At this point, I want to tell you that everyone lived happily ever after. Unfortunately things didn’t go as planned. Dan and his wife moved across the country. He was in the military and was deployed overseas. During this time, Dan’s father-in-law passed away. Dan’s wife moved back home and the marriage fell apart almost a year later. But while we were in Omaha, everything was pleasant.

While we were in Omaha, we met up with one of my best friends from college. She took us to the Omaha zoo. It was hands down the best zoo that I have ever been to. It had an open concept. You didn’t get the impression that the animals were unhappy in their cages. The aquarium was my favorite display as it submerged the viewer in a tunnel surrounded above and at all sides with beautiful water creatures. Great job in your design Omaha zoo. I just wish the marriage turned out as well.