Remember that part at the end of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Clark Griswold goes on a rant about his boss? That’s how I felt walking out of my divorce settlement conference tonight. It’s over. The papers are signed. The orders are written. It’s over. Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where’s the Tylenol?
I wrote this last night and it’s a good thing because I am completely spent tonight.
On this, what I suspect will be, my last evening as a married woman, I want to write a little about what my marriage meant to me. I entered into it as a smart, naive, 20-year-old woman. I intended it to last forever. I was willing to work, and I worked. Oh, how I worked. I poured every bit of work I could muster into this. I reduced myself to putty to fill in the holes and surround the sharp edges.
I worked. I learned several occupations. I learned finances, grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, housework. I learned how to navigate medical insurance and billing. I learned how to live with less. I learned how to change a car tire and patch a bicycle tire. I learned how to shovel snow. I learned to trust an old car.
I traveled. I learned how to live with the contents of a backpack. How to show up in a foreign city without a place to stay and trust that I would find one. I learned how to navigate the country with an atlas. I learned to sleep in places I never imagined I would. I learned to walk. I learned to carry a heavy load. I learned how to endure heat and cold. I learned how to start a fire and fire a gun. I learned not to be scared as I walked in the woods alone. I learned how to paddle a canoe and bait a hook. I learned to notice the birds in the sky and the fish in the river.
I studied. I worked more.
But mostly I waited. And the sun set as I was waiting and then it became dark and I knew it was time to be done. So I walked away, into the night, into the most painful and fearful moments of my life. And in this dark, I have learned to trust myself. Even that naive young woman who decided to jump on a ship that would ultimately descend beneath the waves. I have been changed for good.