I can’t tell you when I checked out of my marriage. Don’t know the time or date. Can’t say where I was when I realized that it just wasn’t working for me anymore. Can’t tell if I was happy or sad or just ambivalent. It may sound silly, but in some ways it took me by surprise. I suppose that it is because for the longest time I thought that we were just going through one of those things that couples deal with.
If you have been married or in a relationship for any length of time then you know exactly what I am talking about. That honeymoon period where you can’t keep your hands off of each other is long past. You don’t write letters addressed to “my dearest so and so” and you don’t care if you go to sleep in an empty bed. In fact, you appreciate the quiet and are thankful that you don’t have to listen to someone tell you about their day because you are just too tired to care about it.
We were in a bit of a lull, a down moment that all couples hit. Really, that is what I thought it was. I figured that it would cycle back the other direction. Was certain that it would because it always had before. Didn’t seem unreasonable or unusual to me, but maybe it should have. Maybe I should have been more attentive and more aware or maybe subconsciously I just didn’t want to be.
What I know for certain is the date that my divorce became final. I have got papers that document that. Got something from a judge that proclaimed that our marriage took its final breath on such and such a date. We made it almost twenty years.
I wasn’t the first of my friends to get divorced- not by a long shot. More than a few had walked down the aisle to the chuppah and then followed the pocked path to the courthouse. So when it happened to me I had more than a few people offer friendly advice about what to do and how to do it.
Some of it was the stereotypical crap you hear all over, like to give myself time to mourn the death of my marriage and to not rush into a relationship. That was pretty easy to accept. Having just ended one relationship the last thing I wanted was to run to another. I may have a reputation for doing things the hard way but that didn’t mean that I intended to find more ways to prove it.
And while there was no doubt that I was interested in female companionship I didn’t want anything to do with anyone who wanted to wear my ring upon their finger. I needed time to decompress and to be. I needed time by myself to decide what it was that I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. I wasn’t old, just another guy in my forties. And given the longevity in my family I had no doubt that my genes would last long enough to give me 30 years with the right someone. The only caveat was that she had to come at the right time.
For a long time I did nothing but spend my time with the kids, friends and family. It was good for me. Gave me a chance to rediscover myself and reconfirm what I wanted to do with my life. And had things gone as planned I would have continued to do that for a while. But the beauty of life is that almost nothing goes as planned. And so that is how I found myself sitting in this coffeeshop…waiting for her to show up.
Yes, I wrote her. We all have a her or a him…don’t we. A person whom we once loved and were loved in return by. She had told me that I was the love of her life and swore that there could be no other. Told me that she couldn’t imagine life without me. I said that about her- promised to catch the moon and give it to her. But apparently these promises that we made weren’t strong enough to make it happen. Things got in the way and frustration on both sides mounted.
Eventually it reached a place where things just fell apart. The damn wheels came off the car as we were driving and we had one hell of a nasty crash. She said awful things about me and I shook my head and bit my lip. Tried to find a way to get around the nastiness. Tried to find a way to get around the bitterness.
Failed to do either. So we walked away and let it go. Don’t ask me to tell you whose fault it was because I am not going there. We both had reason to be angry. I have heard it said that when love is deep enough the pain of separation makes you go a little crazy. Can’t say whether I agree or not, but what I know for certain is that insecurity and misunderstanding made it worse. And I think that our hearts made it worse too.
We used to rely upon our hearts to reassure us that the connection between us wasn’t broken. Don’t really know how to explain it better than that. But I think that the pain in our hearts was magnified and intensified by that connection. Not to mention that towards the end we didn’t really talk the way that we had before.
I firmly believe that if we had been able to speak in person, honestly and openly things would be different. I won’t guarantee that we wouldn’t have gone our separate ways. But if we had it would have been with a lot less hurt. Or maybe that is just me. I was pretty angry at the time and I never would have guessed that I’d be sitting down for coffee with her. But here I am, just moments away from it.
It feels a bit surreal. Those days are long in the past, many years past. Still I came very close to canceling today as I didn’t know if I wanted to open up that can of worms. So last night I spent a few moments reading some old journal entries. Some of them made me laugh and some made me shake my head.
“I am a sad man,
but I am a man,
and I will be treated as such,
or she can’t have me.
I don’t want her back unless she can do that,
don’t trust, don’t respect, don’t come.”
I looked at that verse and tried to decide to remember what I was doing when I wrote that, tried to remember what I was feeling. Don’t know why, but it seemed kind of important. I’d write more about it, but I see her…she is here now. Not inside the shop, but I see her parking her car.
Don’t think she has spotted me yet. What is the protocol for something like this? Do we hug, shake hands or nod our heads. Do I tell her how long I have been single or say that I am gay. Better question, WTF am I doing asking about protocol.
Well dear diary you are just going to have to wait to learn the answer to that one. She just walked in the door and made eye contact with me instantly. And once again I step aboard Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.