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really sure what to do with the paper that arrived a few days ago. The mail
brings all sorts of stuff my way, and I usually know right where to put
whatever I receive: bills over on the bill pile, magazines straight up to my
bedroom. I rip the credit card offers into shreds and slip them into the
decree of divorce thing, I don't know what to do with it: it's an elephant on
the counter; it's a traveling ghost, a road-weary apparition, who's finally
found a home to haunt.
I ended up
tucking it back behind some CDs in this long wooden planter thing I use to
store loose change and old keys and stuff like that. It just sits there, behind
a letter from my landlord saying he's going to be out of town until March, off
to some warmer place while the rest of us are stuck here in the middle of this
icy, snowy winter. I guess it's just as good a place as any for the thing. It's
just one piece of paper, a few words/some signatures/some state certified stamp
of declaration saying it's over. If I was that piece of paper, I think it might
be nice to be all cuddled up against the idea of my landlord kicking it on a
beach in Florida or wherever he went.
say where he was going. He doesn't
want me to know? Whatever.)
handling it all that well, I suppose. It'd be cool for me to be able to write
one of those self-helpy, "I feel so empowered", bullshit articles about how
much this divorce is making me strong and liberated and blah blah blah, but
that's not me at all.
sucks. The letter
can suck it.
The way I
still see it, divorce is a disease. And I caught it. And I feel the same as
I've always felt, except that I am divorced.
I guess the
whole liberation thing must take some time to kick in, huh?
you love someone, you end up giving up a lot. In some ways, I feel like there
ought to be a camp or something for learning how to love right. You can laugh
at that if you want, but some of us—hell, a lot of us—walking around out there
in the world, we never really got it. No one ever talked to me about how to
treat a lady. No one ever talked to me about listening. I've known maybe three
good listeners in my life, but it was only like in the past three weeks that I
finally figured out that they're good listeners, you know?
weird to me.
I feel as devastated and confused as I ever have, like I killed someone I loved. Or like I killed myself. Except I did it all wrong and I'm still here, getting letters in the mail, ripping up credit card offers by myself at the kitchen island.
now and it seems like a freaky dream, like I'm baked and laying a hammock
somewhere and I'm going to wake up with a cold can of Country Time trickling
across my chest and I'm going to realize that it was all just a slice of
It would be
pretty cool in a way, to have it all be one of those moments when you wake up
from a bad dream and you realize that the person you just watched get eaten by
a zombie or whatever, they're actually standing over there by the BBQ, good as
new, yammering away to your mutual friends by a picnic table covered in potato
chips and beer cans.
They have no
idea you just watched a monster gnaw their large intestine like an ear of
August corn. And they
will never need to know either, unless you want make them smile as you walk over
to grab a burger.
I dunno. I
know it's all so dumb, what I'm saying, but that's what's happening to me
lately. This divorce is with me now and that's the way it is, but still.
Sometimes I think I lost the love of my life when I opened that envelope the other day. I stared hard at it, trying to process what I was feeling. You get that kind of letter in the mail and even though you knew it was coming, you still don't know much about what to do with it.
I have tried
to be pure and noble, but I don't know—how do you pull that off? What is "pure and noble" anyway? And why do even
want to try and be that? I have no idea.
No one said,
"Duuude. You're getting a divorce? Oh man. You should try and get pure and
noble ASAP, man, because divorce is a mindfuck and you have no idea."
really said anything to me about filing for divorce. People have their own crap
to deal with: sick kids, car repairs, midwinter blues. People hear the word "divorce" and it means nothing to them. It's common.
You'll be all right, they tell themselves. Serge is getting a divorce. Hmph. That's a
shame, I guess. Or maybe it's not. It doesn't matter. I've got to get the oil
changed on the Toyota. He'll survive. He's a big boy.
I get it.
certain keywords you can drop into your Facebook feed and have people reacting
in a frenzy, unable to control themselves. Words like "cancer" or "prayers" or "Obama," they make people froth one way or
the other. But the word "divorce"? No
way. People mostly skim it and skip it. It's tired. It's awkward. Plus, you'll
You might be
a banged-up baby bitch with no hubcaps and no gas and you're covered in pigeon
shit when you come out the other side, when you finally get your little paper
in the mail long after the fact that people already know you're getting a
divorce and it's all so played out, but you'll survive, bro.
Chin up, man!There's plenty of fish in the sea.
you pretty much get.
though. I don't feel "chin up" at all. I feel as devastated and confused as I
ever have, like I killed someone I loved. Or like I killed myself. Except I did
it all wrong and I'm still here, getting letters in the mail, ripping up credit
card offers by myself at the kitchen island.
survive. I know that. And I'll grow and get wiser and all that happy horseshit
too. I know that. We all know that. Or maybe I won't. Maybe I'll just survive
and not learn a damn thing from any of this and end up doing it all over again
somehow, you know?
There are no
guarantees in this world except one. And that's
this: From the
minute you are born, you are running out of time.
You need to
chase down the things you want to chase down before it's too late. You need to
feast with kings or die trying. You need to believe in your own ability to love
and be loved and whatever bizarre or complicated roads that might take you
down, you should never ever feel sorry for yourself or regret any of it.
think I lost the love of my life when I opened that envelope the other day. I
stared hard at it, trying to process what I was feeling. You get that kind of
letter in the mail and even though you knew it was coming, you still don't know
much about what to do with it.
there, sipping my coffee, looking at the letter, at the stranger's signatures
that marked the end of an era, an official declaration of the end of love. I
stood there trying hard to let my body take me on the ride, yo. Take me on that
badass journey that comes with being "free."
I took the
letter with me out on to the back porch for a smoke. It was cold out there—snow was all over my rented backyard. But I wanted to give the letter a little time
to do its thing, you know? I paid decent money for the damn thing, after all.
So, yeah, I
wanted to feel what I paid to friggin' feel.
I lit a
smoke and stared up at the brown ridges at the edge of town. I winced—Clint
Eastwood, 1969. Bring it on, I thought.
Bring on the
new fresh winds of change. Let them blow down hard off of that ridge right
there and let them slam into me like some uptown express train I step in front
Make me feel
whole. Make me feel
good. Make me feel
alive/titillated/exhilarated/recreated. Make me feel
I held the
letter up in front of my face, raised my arm and flicked my lighter—it
caught the first time. It burned away in seconds. Gone forever. It never
happened. Ashes skimming across the snow like tiny elk you might watch from a
Then I went
inside the house.
remembered the beginning of my story, the part where I told you that I still
have my divorce letter sitting there next to the letter from my landlord and
you realized you were feeling a little confused.
weird. He's telling two endings at once.
finally, after all this time, after all this hot air and smoke and all, you
finally figured out exactly how it feels to be me—divorced.