Eleven years ago, I met the man who became my husband six years ago, became the father of our son four years ago, and then became the person I left and petitioned for divorce 16 months ago. Yesterday, that relationship came to an official end.
Of course, it was over the day I packed up a few bags, took Lil E to a birthday party and made a phone call to say we wouldn't be coming home. I hadn't yet fully grasped the full gravity of the situation, but as I did, the pain intensified, both physically and emotionally. That day seems almost as long ago as the day I walked into the restaurant where he was a bartender and server and I introduced myself as the Hostess with the Mostest. He taught me how to hoist and balance a big tray full of bar glasses and entree plates, how to swiftly wield a wine key while charming a table of customers, and how fun it could be to streak drunkenly home from the bars on rainy Oregon winter nights. We had fun. And many laughs. We had a big love and, wow, we had a great kid together.
If that sounds wistful, it's not. That man I met and loved and married and grew a child inside my body with is not the man who sat on the other side of the court room with me yesterday.
He is unrecognizable and I rarely feel nostalgia for those old times and I no longer feel any of the love that took root and carried me for so many years. As I stood and raised my right hand, faced the judge, signed my name on page after page of copy after copy of the dissolution papers, I stood as as and for and by myself.
We ended up sitting in the court room for hours waiting for the judge, and not too long before she arrived, he and his attorney left. He approached the table where my attorney and I sat, swayed nervously and smiled a half-smile and said, "So are we good here?"
I nodded and for a moment, I felt appalled that he'd bail before the words were said, the order entered into the big system. But later, standing to swear that I am not pregnant, did wish for the marriage to end, did recognize all the documents and consent without pressure to all the items listed therein, that I signed my name to all these rules of our severed relationship, I realized it was just another metaphor for the marriage itself. Remember that tidy little package, that beautiful chaos of the universe I craved? There it was.
I went home, snuggled and laughed and spent time with my boy before he went off with his dad for his regular night of visitation. Since my dad and I agreed on the train on the way home from court that a divorce calls for red meat, I took them out and had steak and toasted glasses of champagne to just getting through. I teared up when my dad told me he was proud of me for how I handled myself and I held my mom's hand as we laughed about all that had come to pass. The thought came to me that I felt very much (as Amy commented, probably very close to the time that I was thinking it) like the day after my wedding -- exhausted, happy, the same but very different.
And so it is that the Almost Ex is now the Ex, that I am full of great relief and that the door, which closed slowly and heavily and with all the weight I could put into it, has finally clicked shut.
After I sleep, I will celebrate. And after that, I will decide what to do with that gorgeously over-tulled wedding dress hanging in my parents' guest room closet. Any thoughts?