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The Last Divorce Writer Rides Again

I'll be honest: I get tired pretty quick of reading the stuff divorced people write. Everyone has the right to tell their own story however they want to or need to, no doubt, but sometimes I get to thinking that a lot of these people who try and document their personal experience with the end of marriage, they exaggerate the good; they shine all their flashlight beams on the upsides and the bright sides in an effort to help themselves get through a really rough patch.

Now look, there's no doubt in my mind that moving on from something as devastating as divorce requires a certain amount of selfie-style brainwashing. I get that. You can't just break up with someone you really loved at some point in time and not feel like battered ass. You need to turn the camera around at some point and zoom in on your own face, on the fact that you're still alive and kicking and that you ain't going down in some fiery emotional airplane crash just because you have a broken heart or whatever.

For a lot of people, it would make sense to just write about how liberated they feel now that the chains have been hacked apart. I understand that. Writing is a two-way street, a lot of people forget that or simply never even consider it to begin with. But most decent writers write because the very act and art of writing itself is wildly good for them. The words are tiny headaches falling out of our mouths; the immediate relief of getting them out of our physical body and out into the wide open world is practically orgasmic at times. If that doesn't make any sense to you, you aren't a writer. Nothing wrong with that. I'm just telling you what's up.

But all that aside, I can't dig it really, this modern divorce writing that goes on. It just seems too slanted for me. I read people saying that they feel good and alive and all and I think to myself, "Well, yippy-yi-yay for you." But it irks me in a way, all these articles and essays leaning hard towards optimism, and rarely dabbling in the darker side of things: of regret, or bone-cutting blues.

What about the long lingering confusion that has settled down on my world? How come I don't read much from anyone else writing about that kind of thing?

And what about the kitchen?

Fuck the kitchen now, you know?

Fuck that noise.

The kitchen, all those kitchens we shared across a decade of marriage and three kids, there must've been at least six or eight, what am I supposed to do with the fact that I stand in my own kitchen now, cooking man-n-cheese for the kids/cutting up a shitty Walmart tomato for my dumb little salad, and the whole thing is ruined for me in a way.

If you ever stand there in the dark of my bedroom with me, you will feel it coming off me like sexual heat: me wishing we were still under one goddamn roof, maybe taking turns with the kids when they need us instead of handing them off ...

We used to laugh in our kitchens.

We used to get in there some nights and I'd be cooking my stir-fry for the two of us and she'd be sitting there drinking a bottle of beer, the windows open to the warm summer air, and she'd talking hard and fast about something, about anything really. The kids in bed, or even before kids, that was our time, man: just two grown-ups standing there in the peanut oil smoke/drinking beers/moving through the early evening peace that comes with sharing a kitchen you rent with someone you care enough about that you would actually fistfight a mountain lion at some point, if stuff ever somehow got super muffed-up and someone was holding a gun to her head and saying:

"Look, bro, you either slap that mountain lion in his face like he's your bitch or I'm gonna ice this chick right here, right now."

I wouldn't have hesitated.

Even at our worst, I would have cold-cocked that lion's face right before he tore my throat out and ate my esophagus like a Sunday gravy braciole. I just would have.

How come people don't write about that kind of thing so much? How come at least some writers can't just admit that the kitchen basically sucks now? And that everything else sucks in a way, too.

I get so bummed. Write me some real shit, man. Tell me it sucks. Tell me you suck for letting all this happen even.

What about all this waking up in the middle of the night to pop the baby's bottle in his mouth? I do it. I don't mind doing it. I love the kid, obviously and when he's here he needs me to help him because there isn't anyone else around to do it, you know? There aren't any benevolent ghosts walking out of the walls to tip a bottle back to his 3am crying lips, you know?

And even if there was, it wouldn't be the same anyway. It's either me or his mama he wants. Even without saying it, I know that's what he wants. What he needs. So that sucks as well.

You ever stand there in the dark of my bedroom with me, you will feel it coming off me like sexual heat: me wishing we were still under one goddamn roof, maybe taking turns with the kids when they need us instead of handing them off, back and forth, like hot novels or Blu-Rays we share with like-minded culture vultures, walking to them alone. One. Or the other. One. Or the other. That's what you get. That's what we get.

Liberation. It might come. But it might not. Wounds are wicked. Scars are gross. Don't tell me that everything always works out when it comes to love. That's not true. You have to work it out yourself. You have to be honest with yourself, stare yourself in the eyeball and not be afraid of anything in the world. So many people don't live that way. That's probably the leading cause of divorce right there, bud.

I stumble down through a lot of my days like I'm tripping on a dream of vines. I get so tangled up in tiny things, missing moments when I guess other moments ought to be replacing them.

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I think divorced people are like haggard Civil War veterans long ago. Look at them, showing up at Gettysburg on a hot summer day (Reunion Day!) to reminisce and drink lemonade or hooch under the shade of some infamous tree. It all seems so perfect and fine, everyone chatting away and pecking at the cold chicken, waving the flies away. They tell their stories with heroic twists. They romanticize the epic pain.

Except that every son-of-a-bitch there is missing a limb or some shit.

Legs blown off by cannonballs.

Arms blown off by miniballs.

Whole wads of your jaw just gone, sheared off by some drunken cavalry dude's ratty sword many moons ago.

Other old vets try not to stare, but they're like, "Day-uhm, son! Look at this guy! I can see the sun shining through the back of his freaking skull."

I dunno.

Maybe divorce really doesn't hurt for a lot of people.

Maybe I'm the first guy in the world to ever stand in his divorce kitchen and want to punch a mountain lion in the face really hard just to prove an unknown point to the universe.

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I guess what it all comes down to is that I wish there were more people who were like me in this world, more writers especially. When it comes to divorce, you can tell me you are writing it down, honest as you can, and that everything feels good after a while, but I don't buy it.

I think you're lying

But maybe it's me.

It sucks either way.


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