The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

Twist September 14, 2012

I’d heard of it happening before. So I know I wasn’t the first. In going over some routine business through email today, I learned from Fareed that we were in fact – and had been since July 18th – officially divorced. Unexpected news. I still hadn’t heard it from my own attorney. In fact I’d recently written my lawyer a letter. I’d wanted him to know the process was waiting on one final dental procedure, that Fareed knew this too, and he could go ahead and ‘finalize’ our divorce after that. Guess it was a moot point. Another lesson in the never-ending ‘rules’ of divorce: if the insurance company isn’t told about the divorce (let alone the wife herself), you are still covered. Until they know different, things are as they’ve always been. That is to say, it’s all a friggin game. There’s some play in the rules. Things ain’t necessarily what you thought.

That I come to discover today that I’m now divorced is, in reality, very unspectacular. That I should even be moved to write a post about it probably seems silly. That I cried when I read the news should seem rather ridiculous. That I felt anything at all, it just doesn’t make sense. I kept going over it and over it again in my mind – why did this make any difference at all? Why should this news still jar my system, shake me up, break my heart all over again? I had to understand this. If I put myself in the shoes of readers for whom this drama dragged on way longer than it should have to begin with, and then appeared to have been over half a year ago… how would they feel about another self-sorry, virtual crying jag over this tired not-so-new news?

Just this afternoon I’d been at the eye doctor’s and was explaining that I could still make an appointment if it was before my dentist’s appointment – because I was still on ‘my husband’s’ insurance. I noticed how familiar it was to say ‘husband’, noted how many years I’d been saying it. I even noticed that in spite of the fact that it was soon to be different, I still liked to say that. “My Husband”. It felt like home somehow. To know that somewhere out there, I did really have a husband and his name was Fareed. He was a friend with whom I’d laughed, made music, and with whom I’d been around the world, and he was the man with whom we’d had one very planned and long-awaited child once, not too terribly long ago… Secretly, somewhere deep down, I liked that we were still married. While I knew all the reasons it was not a real marriage anymore, I still felt it kept us connected to so many things I wasn’t looking forward to letting go of. (And I don’t mean insurance.) So much history…  My mind flashes to a time when we lived in our tiny hi-rise apartment in Chicago. It was a time when I (and perhaps I alone) felt things were goin really good. Life was full then. Close to perfect. We were in love, our cats slept on the bed with us and we had coffee together every morning at the little corner cafe. So when I mourn our marriage, that’s one chapter of many that comes to mind. Just one. Of many.

But really, what the hell??? Married to a man who knowingly had another woman pregnant at the same time as me? Married to a man who now has two children with another young woman with whom he’s been in a relationship with for more than five years?? (And all this while he was still married to me; one wonders: is she patient or foolish?)  What, oh what, has changed that I can still feel such poignancy at the expected – and intended for – news? It’s not like I didn’t know it was coming. Divorce is just so, well, different from marriage. Marriage you plan – then you celebrate in a big, public and joyful party. Usually with good food. But divorce – it sneaks up on you quietly. Divorce backs up a moving van to your life, loads up all of your stuff, then drives off without leaving you so much as a box of pizza to soften the blow.

I’m lying in bed with Elihu tonite, we’re kinda thinkin about butcherin our roosters tomorrow morning, we’re kinda thinking about cool Nordic names, we’re kinda thinking about the crazy rules of this modern life. He wants to know what changes now. Now that I ‘really am divorced’. I tell him not much. Most of the hard changes have already happened. Lots of quiet follows. “I’m mad that we don’t have enough money”. Not sure the context, so I wait. “I’ve been thinking. Grandpa Riaz has money, right?”  “Kinda” I answer, as it’s complicated. Lots of real estate, probably not a lot of cash flow. “It makes me mad that we have to figure out how to pay for Waldorf and he doesn’t help one bit.” Obviously he’s been ruminating like this for some time. He simply wishes we had money. Somehow he is taking this divorce news to confirm our poverty. That’s what it is I guess. Hmm. Gotta turn this one around here…

I present to him my spin on things: how much more comfortable would his bed be if we had more money? How much more would he enjoy his chickens if he had more money? How much better would he play his drums if he had more money? And so on… He gets it, and I’ve made a good point, but he’s not stupid. Me neither. We both know that be able to heat the house before it gets super cold – and not to have to wait for assistance to kick in in November – that would definitely make things better. Not to run our of money for food by month’s end. That would definitely make things better. And realizing that both his Dad and his Dad’s family have exponentially more means than we do, well, that is no longer lost to a bright nine year old boy. I can comfort and justify only so much. His wheels are turning, and he’s seeing some inequities here for himself. For the first time.

But I can offer this: It is all an illusion. Nothing is what you think it is. Everything you know will one day change. And money can’t stop that. Money can’t fix your broken heart or make you healthy. So money isn’t what it’s all about. Not really. Only problem is, it also kind of is. I mean I want to be honest here, money is a loaded subject. I can be all Zen about it – and ultimately I want us to know what it is to feel good with what we presently have. Really. And honestly, for the most part, we do feel pretty good about what we got goin on.

But shit. Just think twenty thousand could do, huh? Git a little infrastructure taken care of around the crib and knock the to-do list down to nuttin but a grocery list. Can’t say that wouldn’t feel most exquisite. That’s some serious cash. So yes, money can make things better, easier. (The little voice within is yelling ‘dishwasher, please!’)  Life can be poor, rich, simple, complex, married, divorced. Kinda all at the same time with lots of blurry lines in between. There’s something to be appreciated about every situation and its flip-side too. The trick is feeling ok where you currently find yourself. And not to bitch too much about how it might be otherwise. Just relax, cuz whatever you think you know, or whatever place you might be in right now (mental or physical) – it’ll probably end up changing. So just try to be here and be ok.

Like my favorite soft-serve ice cream cone, twirling together lemon and raspberry (locals, I’m a Dairy Haus girl, if you must know) it seems the lives we lead are less about straight lines and more about the twists… and the surprising experiences that result.

 

6 Responses to “Twist”

  1. Mary Says:

    I’m reading this over a grand crème (like a latte) in a café in our new home of Chatou on the Seine, delirious Impressionist getaway and home to the flagship Waldorf school in France (not to mention teacher training center). This is one of your best posts, in my opinion. It’s deep, thoughtful, and wide-ranging. I don’t think you’re over-rehashing things–I think you’re synthesizing/digesting emotional/psychological pieces that hadn’t been yet. So bravo, en avant!

  2. Gene Burnett Says:

    Dreams don’t die all at once. Each piece has to be felt and grieved, or stuffed. I recommend feeling and grieving. Voodoo dolls help too. ;~) Money is a tough one, especially in today’s world and economy. I wrote in a song once: “The best insurance is a bunch of friends. Now tell me who do you know?” I still believe it. But another great piece of insurance is knowing about and being involved in the production of something people really need, like for instance, food. Your life seems good and if I was rich, I’d drop that 20 grand on you. Be well and enjoy the big things. ;~) GB

  3. Gene Burnett Says:

    Forgot to click on “Notify me of follow-up comments via email.” so I have to comment again.

  4. It’s what Gene said– grief is done in pieces even when it feels like it’s all been done. Don’t get frustrated. There isn’t anything wrong with you because you were shaken up by this. It’s part of the process.


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