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Yes, it sometimes feels like my life is a B-movie.  Not horribly bad.   But just as bizarre as, well, a B-movie. 

My feeble attempts at dating have yielded some interesting experiences.  I seem to be following a “three strikes” rule – meaning no one has gotten beyond date number three.  At this point, I’m okay with that.  I’m not in a place in my heart yet to even give a single strand of it to anyone else.  I suppose if the right person came along, I would do so.  Knowing myself as I do, I couldn’t help it.  But, the right person is an illusive concept these days. 

And so, I date.  And debate becoming a nun, because honestly, I might as well.  But that’s another post. 

My first out of the inning was a very nice guy who, while a little proper, and a little controlling, I discovered after three dates, was really just a little old lady in disguise.  I’m not sure quite how I found this out.  Maybe it was the pride in which he spoke about his matching Tupperware.  Or his inability to drive more than 10 miles under the speed limit.  Still, he was a nice guy.  Just not the guy for me, as I decided on the third date.

My second out of the inning, was undoubtedly the strangest first date I’ve ever had.  We had a very nice time.  We talked about everything.   He was properly impressed with my weird knowledge of history and off-beat things.  We met for drinks at the Brown Palace, talked about music and family and cocktails and abstract art and his business doing something with petroleum and…just everything.  Then we moved onto dinner at Marlowe’s (which was absolutely yummy, and I highly recommend the salmon) at a table outside by the 16th Street Mall, where we discussed horse-drawn carriages and remodeling old houses and various sundry things and how things in Denver had changed over the years.  Then we got to talking about what to do after dinner.  And he had an idea.  And the next thing I know, we’re at BJ’s Carousel, home of Denver’s friendliest drag queen show.

Now, you guys know me.  I’m pretty much up for anything, especially if it makes a good story for the theoretical grandkids, or at least a good story to tell any stray parrots I happen to round up.  What’s my motto?  All together now.  That’s right. “She who dies with the most stories, wins.”  It’s a hefty responsiblity and not one I take lightly.  So, since this was something I’d never done, we went.

I’ll tell you, for a first date with a professed Christian, this one took the urinal cake.  I was the only woman (??) in the place, and I do have to say, that everybody there was very friendly.  I’m serious.  They were all incredibly nice.  But I suppose that being the only woman there, and sitting at a ringside table, I was bound to attract the attention of the performers.  And so it was, that Fantasia, during her (his?) first number, shone the spotlight on us, introduced her(him?) self, drank my vodka and soda, and sang a Lady Gaga song to me.  How nice.  Really.  It was.  Someday, I want to try to wear eyelashes that long. 

A few other performers came and went.  And I know that even I, with my puny fashion sense, could make a little money on the side by being a fashion consultant for this population.  Again, seriously.  I don’t even know where to start.  Each seemed to have their own little following, and several patrons lined up to place dollars in the star-of-the-moment’s curious cleavage.

And then, Fantasia was back, still enamored of me and my date.  She approached the table.  She paused in her song.  She grabbed my face between her two hands, and I thought she was going to kiss me.  But no.  She buried my head between her fake boobs and tried to suffocate me for about three seconds.  A very long three seconds.  Then she proceeded to give my date one of said fake boobs.  At that point, it was time for me to get some air.  So we went. 

I was not uncomfortable or unhappy with this date.  I was just bemused and baffled.  And Kelsea said I was extremely jumpy the next day.  I decided he was pleasantly eccentric and I’d see what happened next.  I like eccentric people.

Our second date was drinks and dinner.  Pretty normal, although he drank more than I was expecting.  And our third date was drinks (do we see a pattern here?  yes, and we’re not sure we like it), a Rockies game, and dinner.  I wasn’t in the drinking mood, which he didn’t seem to care for too much, and over dinner, he called me a flaming liberal and started bashing gay marriage (yes, the same guy who took me to a drag club) and told me I was an idiot for believing in health care reform, Obama, or anything any semi-rational human being believes in.  Well, buddy, let me stick a fork in you, because you’re done.

Ah, the irony of having my second third strike be a baseball game date.  And I did feel a small pill of pride about “breaking up” with somebody over health care reform.

I’m wondering if this is a trend.  I don’t really know if I’m ready for dating.  Right now, I don’t know if I’m ever going to be ready to date.  When you’ve had magic, it feels impossible to go back to ordinary.  But I will continue to give it the old college try when I have time.  At least until I’ve gone through a full nine innings.

Just in case, if anyone has the number for a good nunnery, let me know.

I haven’t made an entry into the Divorce Diaries for a while.  That’s because there’s been nothing really to say.  It is what it is.  It’s not awful.  Pat and I are getting along just fine.  Kelsea and I are getting along great.  Pat and Kelsea are getting along well.  She doesn’t try to push us together.  She has suggested things like taking a family vacation, and I’ve told her that the family profile is different now, and we won’t all three be going on any trips together.  She’s okay with that.  Pat has expressed an interest in taking her on a trip – I think he’s a little jealous of the good times she and I have had when we’ve gone away.  That would be very nice for both of them.

Yesterday would have been our 20th wedding anniversary.  I thought of it in passing after I dropped Kelsea off at school.  Several years ago, before I had finally had enough, I was planning a special trip for us for this anniversary – Italy, or Greece, or Turkey – just the two of us.  It was not to be.  But I’ll get to those places myself someday.  I had a momentary sadness, but truly, it was just a moment.  Then, I pulled up in front of my old house to pick up something for Kelsea, and completely forgot about it.  Pat didn’t give any indication that he remembered.  (We actually both had a hard time remembering the exact date; one of his brothers gave us an anniversary clock with the date engraved on it, and we always had to check the clock to be sure.)

So 8 months after the divorce, strange to say, it feels like a more comfortable relationship.  He still make comments that grate on me, but I don’t feel compelled to spit back, and I don’t take them to heart.  I know that I can just leave.  But for the most part, we chat, we confer on Kelsea issues, we do each other favors, we hand off our daughter, I pay child support, he’s not asking me for money, I don’t ask him about his projects/finances.  I guess it’s a friendship.  Maybe that’s what it was supposed to be all along.

It bothers me a little bit that I can only remember the most loving times vaguely.  Perhaps there’s too much water under the bridge.  Or perhaps it’s an internal mechanism to help the healing process.  I really don’t know.  I just know that we’re both moving on.  And that’s just fine.

You know, I really thought I was okay.  I finished up all the paperwork this morning.  It is sitting in its orange folder, waiting to go to the notary and the judge, just a couple of points outstanding that we need to discuss.  Amazing how an entire relationship of 25 years, one-quarter of a century, now comes down to a slim sheaf of papers in an orange folder.

And what do we have to show for it?  A beautiful daughter.  A falling-down house.  A lot of happy times.  And a lot of tears and memories of anger and despair.  Not much in the way of possessions or savings.  Certainly nothing that reflects how hard I’ve worked.

I was unemotional filling out the papers.  Just business. Calculations.  Trying to be fair. (I am hoping he will be fair as well, but I have hoped that for our whole life together, so I don’t think I can rely on it.)  But when I was done, I called my brother.  All the family I have left.   He’s been trying to reach me for some weeks now, and I have been remiss in returning  his calls. He’s been through this twice himself, so he understands that there are emotions around it, and he understands me.  I guess I wanted him to tell me how I should feel, since I was feeling odd — numb, practical, abnormal.  He being a boy, his emotions around his divorces were not as much sad, as they were peeved (what a great word) and relieved.  As we were talking, I just started to cry.  And now I am having waves of tears.  It was good to talk with him.  I could feel his support over the thousand miles that separate us.

Last night, a friend pinpointed this whole experience as “the death of a dream”.  That is exactly it.  I never had big dreams for my marriage.  No big house, no opulence.  I had dreams of companionship, partnership, laughter,  Joy.  Contentment.  With this person I loved, with whom I chose (for whatever reason) to spend my life.  Dreams of the rest of my life.  Yes, I wanted to travel.  But I also wanted a beautiful garden, dogs, cats.  A home.  Love.

Divorce is admitting that those things, in this relationship that you’ve tried so hard to tend well for so long, are just not possible.  And giving up the dream.

The garden is the perfect metaphor for our marriage.  We had a beautiful garden for a number of years.  It was always a work in progress.  But we both enjoyed working it and we spent a lot of time in it.  Days in the sun, evenings playing with Kelsea, having dinner, watching the bats swoop low above our heads.  Then, somehow, Pat kept building things for me to tend, and I kept running out of time to tend them.  He would do the building, but not help with maintaining things – or if he helped, he would berate me for not making more time to do the tending.  I was working too much, just trying to keep up with the economy.  It started to feel like a battle of wills, and something (just one more thing) I felt guilty about not doing, and then guilty about not wanting to do, because it was too much to maintain on my own, because I didn’t feel like I had a partner, because it was expensive, because things didn’t grow as planned and I was disappointed, because he was disappointed that it didn’t look like the gardens in the magazines.  So much disappointment.

Now, what used to be our garden is in complete disrepair.  Weeds taller than my head.  Beds dug up by the dogs.  Broken fences.  Fences that cannot be mended.

Pat has no motivation to care for it.  “I made it all for you,” he says, “It doesn’t matter to me anymore.”  I hope that, since he’s living there, and he used to enjoy it so, sitting out in the dark with a glass of whiskey and being pleased with the property, that he’ll find it in himself to take pride in it once again.  To try.  But I’ve been hoping that for him for years.  Maybe he will be better off without me.

I found my wedding ring this morning – I know, it sounds like I’m torturing myself, but it’s another metaphor.  You see, it’s a beautiful ring.  We designed it ourselves.  It swirls and curves and has diamonds.  And it doesn’t fit me any more.  I guess I am not the same person I was when he slipped it on my finger 19 years ago.

I guess that’s why I am where I am today, alone, in a bed surrounded by sodden tissues and divorce papers.  And not where I used to be.

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Pat and I met yesterday to discuss the divorce.  It was actually very amicable.  The purpose of our lunch was to complete all the paperwork prior to sitting down with the judge next week.  That didn’t happen.  Instead, he said, “You just fill it all out and I’ll sign it.”  Including his financial statement. 

I guess I’m fine with that.  I’m honest and I know I’ll be fair (probably more than fair).  We’re both in agreement that we just want this whole thing to be as good an experience for Kelsea as it can be.  But, at the same time, it’s one more thing for ME to do, and one more thing HE won’t take responsibility for.  I have a feeling he’s in for a rude awakening when he starts having to pay his own bills every month.

I only cried once during lunch, which is not bad, considering how much I usually cry during these meetings.  Somehow, I still feel like I need to apologize for all of it.  As we were leaving, I said, “I tried to be a good wife to you.”  And he replied, “You had your moments.”  Then after I drove away, I found myself wishing he would say something like that to me.  He’s the reason I’m leaving, after all.  But he’s owned up to his own faults in this divorce once or twice when he was in his cups.  I guess that’s as good as I’m going to get. 

I am ready to stop apologizing.

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