I am a woman who is divorced. This is part of my story.
I am a woman whose parents divorced. And this is also part of my story.
A pattern? Some would say.
Yesterday would have been an anniversary of sorts. And it is strange how far one comes in eight years. I noticed the date, not because it held special ceremonial influence for me, but because there was something in the familiarity of it as I wrote it that day which made me pause. May 16th. I would be lying if I said I didn't recognize it immediately. It was far more than "Armed Forces Day" in my dayplanner. Yes. May 16th, when in 1998 I stood in front of several hundred people in a white dress in front of a stained glass window and promised things I could not do.
My ex-husband and I are both happily remarried. Perhaps we had one of those "starter marriages" that sociologists talk about now. We were married for less than four years. And yet, we were together for far longer. We began dating my senior year of college, when I was just 22 years old and he was 24. It seems to me that when one is in their 20s and early 30s development happens rapidly, and so the years that Ken and I spent were sort of like "dog years" (and I say this with no disrespect and loving my dachshund...). We grew rapidly and constantly. We changed often and to the delight and detriment of one another. And so those years, less than a decade seem like far longer in my memory, in my dog brain.
Life with Ken was sort of like living in a college fraternity (or sorority) house. I laughed often; I shared myself freely and deeply with someone who knew me as I was at that time; I grew up with a peer. We shared bottles of wine and meteor showers and dinner parties and exhausting conversations. We shared backgammon games and cat parenting and mortgage payments and hymn sings. We shared bike riding and NPR listening and bread making and Barbara Kingsolver loving. We shared incense burning and Indigo Girls listening and Washington D.C. visiting and candle lighting.
But somehow I was not myself. And I could not find myself. And I missed myself. And as much as my sweet Ken wanted to assist me, there were callings apart from him, and journeys on which I could not allow him to go, journeys of which I had to travel alone, even though I knew it hurt him.
I tell these stories because there is no one to tell them if I don't, in the same way that there is no one to tell the stories of the happy years of my parents marriage if I don't tell them. Ken and I lived in that time. And there were good days. And they should not be forgotten.
A few months ago, in a late night of deep conversation and more than one open bottle of wine, a friend asked me whether I would reconsider marrying Ken if I could. I took a sip of my second glass and said, "Never. Not ever. We grew up together. We told one another our stories."
And then we moved on. And it was good too.