Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Would You Like a Side of Divorce with that Moons Over My Hammy?

Andi agreed to drive me to the courthouse.  We shared the awkward small talk and physicality of a first date.  We caught up on our lives and managed to laugh, despite the circumstances.  We also discovered that the courtroom language of divorce is not irreconcilable differences.  There were two single petitioners.  There was one man with his best friend and one woman with her best friend, both groups surely destined for an early lunch soaked in alcohol.  Then there was us.

The judge pronounced all our marriages irretrievably broken.

On the drive from downtown, Andi told me she would still love it if we could be friends.  She asked if I thought she was a serial cheater.  She told me if I ever wanted to “give this thing another shot” she was game.  She also forced me to say why it’s painful to see her: I didn’t want my marriage to end, and it ended anyway.

She asked whether I meant last year, or in the car at that moment.  Last year, I said.  Wanting the divorce didn’t make it any easier to see her.

I get it now.  She’s proof that love doesn’t conquer all, that even dreams you work for don’t always come true.  I set that aside long enough to be civil, and eventually we laughed like old friends, but that doesn’t mean I’m inviting her over for barbeque.

When we pulled into the driveway at the Treehouse, I suggested breakfast.  She said she’d been working up the courage to ask the whole drive.  Shades of our marriage, afraid to say what we want because it might not make the other person happy.

We decided to hit a Denny’s.  As Kevin Brockmeier writes on choosing a restaurant in "The Human Soul as a Rube Goldberg Device," sometimes “you want nothing more than the simple curt reactiveness of a stranger.”

It felt great, for the most part.  We avoided sentimentality.  I enjoyed our rapport.  If she saw and wondered about the new scar on my forehead, she didn’t mention it.  The way she spoke about her new guy and music, I realized that my friend Z is right; the divorce was a correction.  I love music, but it doesn’t light me up the way it does Andi.  Becky and I share a passion for books, the thing I love most.  It was a hole in my marriage.  Clearly you don’t need to have everything in common, but still.  Becky’s read more of my work in a year than Andi read in sixteen.

Packing up to leave my bachelor pad the next day, I came across my wedding band.  I felt like crying, but I didn’t.  I guess there are a finite number of tears you can shed over certain events.  Irretrievably broken, I thought.  Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want, I thought.

When I saved the ring, I had pictured something from a movie.  I’d bike to Kennedy Park and stand on the pier looking thoughtful for a time before throwing the band into the water.  I suppose I could have saved it for that trip, but I didn’t want the ring in my new home.  It also seemed like too much effort.  Instead, I cut the band in half and laid it into a flat line, cut that line into pieces, and threw those pieces in the trash.  I still didn’t cry.  I felt empty.

Irretrievably broken.

The marriage is broken, but life is still as wonderful and beautiful as it ever was.

Cracks and all.


  1. You've come a long way in a year.

    I think you could go a long way forward with Becky by your side too. I think you have a more realistic view without the rose tinted glasses and its great to see that you're not as cynical as I was at this point.

    Sending you good thoughts.

  2. and you know what Leonard Cohen says about the cracks........

  3. I love to read your insights in the blog! You are a gifted writer and the only thing I can tell you is that YOU MUST WRITE A NOVEL...

  4. Thanks, Al. For everything.

    I didn't want to reference “Anthem” for the billionth time, but I couldn't help myself. When a sentiment is perfect, why fight it?

    Kiki, you’re too kind. I actually have written a novel; 2 of them. One is YA and publishable, the other is in its third revision (well, countless revisions, but the third re-imagining) and this time I think I’ve got it right. I’m also fifty pages into another novel which will likely never see print because the main character is Barbie.

    When Lane Smith had his event for “It’s a Book,” he said it took him 12 years to write “John, Paul, George, and Ben.” I write like he does. I work the story until it stops talking to me, then I shelve however many pages I’ve finished. If the story calls again, I write more. Once it’s done, I shelve it again.

    Time has to pass before I can read the whole story with some perspective, and see what it needs. At any given time, I have a ridiculous number of word documents going. I have 16 potential posts for Sweet in various stages of completion, and I don’t give them nearly as much polish as the stories.

    If I blogged like I write fiction, I’d be writing about 2007 right now.