Sitting amongst a room full of strangers, yet the silence is numbing, bringing to mind the Pink Floyd song that begins to plays on a constant loop in my head.
“…I can’t explain you would not understand
This is not how I am
I have become comfortably numb…”
This is not comfortable, though. Not even a little bit. I push my thumb nail into the flesh on my other hand to make sure I’m still alive, and not a first-hand witness to purgatory. My cell is sitting in my car, where I was forced to leave it when I came inside the courtroom, so I stare into space and daydream.
Another potential criminal is called to the stand to receive his fate. He is alone; no lawyer to plead his case. I strain my ears to hear the plight of the man, whose back is turned to me. It is the only thing I have to assess him. His hair falls wavy and uncombed, its length trying to compensate for its lack atop his head. He is cloaked in a black leather jacket that is far too large for his frail frame.
Everyone had expected me to be upset by my divorce- perhaps a little angry, definitely hurt. I was all of those things, but my reasoning actually just came to me. It bulldozed its way into my brain and then sat there: horrible, awful, and unpleasant, just waiting for me to address it. So here it goes…
Why I’m Pissed
I wasn’t on the search for my future mate by any means. At 23 years old, as can be imagined, I had a list a mile long: smart, funny, good-looking… (the classics). Also, I was enjoying the single life.
I could do whatever I wanted, go wherever I wanted, say whatever I wanted- within reason of course; I still lived with my mom.
The truth is, he chased me down, and I knew (or thought I did) that he’d always idolize me. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that when someone puts you up on a pedestal, eventually you have nowhere to go but down.
I loved dating him, and I was deliriously happy when we moved in together. It would be a lie if I said that I had any apprehensions when we finally vowed to love each other in good times and bad. For richer or poorer.
When we are kids, this is more direct: the belief in a magical fairy who creeps into our bedrooms as we sleep to take our old canines and slip a couple dollars under our pillow; a 6-foot tall rabbit, who hops around laying chocolate eggs and leaving baskets of candy and fake plastic grass, wrapped in cellophane and a giant pink bow; an elf who flies from the family room curtain rod to the bookcase in the den at nighttime, surveying our behavior in December in order to report it to the big guy.
Okay, perhaps these are less misconceptions, more like lies.
But, as kids, we also have misconceptions about the people we are surrounded by. That our parents are always perfect. That everything will always turn out okay in the end. As a parent now, I have first-hand knowledge that the former is not true. Not even a little bit true. I am admittedly flawed, yet I try to live up to the conceptions that my children have of me.
And, perhaps it’s a little naïve of me to think so, but hopefully everything will turn out okay in the end, or, at least, how it’s supposed to.
C-31 the code on my boarding pass proclaimed. Great, I thought: the cheap seats.
After a long stint waiting in an organized line for the flight attendant to take said pass, then another wait on the jetway while the passengers in front of me crammed their stuffed-to-capacity-and-then-some carry-ons into too-small overhead compartments, I boarded the aircraft and stood on my tip-toes to view my potential seats.
“Ladies and gentleman, there is a full flight this morning, so please be sure to allow these new passengers access to all the seats in your row,” a nasally woman’s voice came over the loudspeaker. I noticed a few people who were already seated roll their eyes, huff, or curse under their breath. Sigh.
In a feeble attempt to get myself a seat that didn’t involve being sandwiched between a crying baby and someone who looked like a “talker,” I scanned available openings as I continued to amble down the narrow aisle.
Each time I found a potentially decent place to sit, I was rammed forward by the horde in back of me. Before long, I was given the choice of a middle seat in the back row of the plane, or one on top of the toilet. I chose the former so that I didn’t infuriate the flight attendant.
I began mushing my way into my destined residence in a flourish of body parts and bags and whispered “Excuse me!”s and “I’m so sorry!”s. In order to get to that particular seat, I had to apologize for my very existence.
They say hindsight is 20/20. Looking at things “in retrospect” is never good for the psyche…
I just had such a typical reaction. As with so many in the situation, I blamed myself. If there’s one thing I hate, however, it’s being so regular.
When our ninth Valentine’s Day together rolled around, I received no mention, no card, no delivery of over-priced bouquets and chocolates sent to the door. That isn’t to say that couples who don’t celebrate the day are destined for relationship trouble- we just always HAD.
Sappiness is a quality that runs deeply through my veins.
I could sense that there was something awry. As the days went on, I bought pseudo-informative literature on being a better wife to peruse on my kindle, and put some of the ideas into practice. Telling myself I was crazy, and that nothing was wrong, we went back to our lives as normal: me taking care of the kids, him taking care of the bills.