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May Divorce Be With You

I'm not 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 recycle bin.

But this 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.

(He didn't say where he was going. He doesn't want me to know? Whatever.)

I'm not 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.

The letter 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?

--

Every time 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?

That's so 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.

I'm divorced 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 imagination pie.

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.

I'm dumb. I'm dumbfounded, dumbstruck, dumbed down, dump-trucked.

Why did you even get divorced then, asshole?

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."

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No one 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.

There are 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 survive.

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.

That's what you pretty much get.

Fuck that, 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.

--

I'll 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.

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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.

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 stood 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 of.

Make me feel whole. Make me feel good. Make me feel alive/titillated/exhilarated/recreated. Make me feel something, goddammit.

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Make me something other than sad.

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 helicopter.

Then I went inside the house.

--

Then you 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.

This guy's weird. He's telling two endings at once.

Then, 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.

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