It wouldn’t hurt this bad if it hadn’t been so good.
My children going off to college.
It is excruciating because it was spectacular.
But like I’ve loved every house I’ve lived in and like I imagine moving to every city I visit- I’m bound to love every phase of my life.
I will be the cutest grandma ever.
And this is the end of the story. Or it will be the last chapter of this book.
There could be more books. And there will definitely be more chapters but this is the end of this story.
I had exhausted attempts at understanding Walt. Or even knowing what had changed. How was I married to this man for 19 years and now didn’t even know him?
The questions swirled perpetually but there was no drain for the questions to go down. They swirled continuously. Maybe like a toy that children passed by and picked up off the teacher’s desk. Shaking it hard just as the colored jelly beads settled to the bottom and the swirling started and then the child would shake harder until the water and jelly is mixed and tumultuous and gradually the swirling became more consistent and predictable as the child set the toy back down only to be violently shaken again by the next child.
Walt came to take Mim to school so I left for work. I reversed and things felt off with the Subaru. I got out and saw right away a completely flat tire. Ugh- Dolly drove it last night to practice. She has had her license for 3 days. I wander back inside. Desperate texts for a ride to co workers who live in my neighborhood. I wander in and out in frustration, as Walt offers to help.
I do not want to accept his help. Because I can handle my own life. And because when we separated, he told me that his penance for the affairs had been the kitchen renovation, putting in wood floors, painting the floors white, making new doors, and endless lists of construction and painting.
He had always done house projects. I was incredibly grateful that he could make every place we lived in really close to my wishes and Pinterest boards.
The doors were made of planks that lined up vertically on one side and had a diagonal board on the back connecting two horizontal boards and then he would add just the right black rod ironish hardware. These doors were a mix of Little House on the Prairie and a beach house.
He made open shelves for the kitchen and made his own concrete counters in homemade molds.
In South Carolina, he turned a screened in porch in to a dining room by making windows that could open upward and attach to the ceiling so that it could be a screened porch again in the spring.
He made tables with leftover teak from his dad’s boats.
And then on top of his frequent projects he asked for my design ideas and he made them happen all while praising and appreciating any touches I added- like a decoupaged map on a book shelf or bench cushions covered in Amy Butler patterns in every color. He made the clean lines and surfaces and I made things cottage-like and homey. We were a great pair.
Our house in South Carolina was so sweet that our fishing cottage neighborhood put us on a tour of homes. It was a dream. A fantastical magical night. A small bonfire in our front yard teased the drooping palm fronds. The glow of the lamps twinkled inside as a long line of spectators filed through. Addy would have been about nine, Tuck eight, BeBe six, George three, and Dolly two. They ran around and in and out the crowded spaces. Marshmallows were roasted. Oysters were shucked on two by four high top tables in the driveway. The windows all open. Dolly fell asleep and I laid her in our bed under a quilt made by my mom. People would exit our place with a glow and say I thought there was a babydoll in the bed. Her blonde curls floating on the flower print pillowcase. Her cheeks still rosy from the fire. People doted on our creations. The children and our home. That night, Walt and I flew higher than the crescent moon on the South Carolina flag.
These had been my memories.
Now drenched in guilt.
My condos painted floors were now his shame. The paint on the walls was smeared with contrition and contempt. Every door opening and closing on his hidden debt.
The pinks became sullen. The whites became dingy. The crack in the ceiling beam widened. The floors buckled under the weight of it all.
I have wondered a thousand times if there will be an end to this time of my life- the grief. The mourning a marriage ended. If I am truly writing a memoir of this moment of dissolution and change and movement forward- what will be the movement forward? There won’t be a knight in shining armor. What will be my horse riding off into the sunset? I am privy to glimpses of the end. Tiny moments of clarity or relaxation or days of pure happiness with the realization at bedtime that I didn’t think about divorce today. I’m getting closer.