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.