I didn't really want to go. So I took consolation where I could find it. The breeze on the platform while I stood waiting for the train. The smell of aftershave from the man standing next to me.
But all the signs are spelling out "Danger." The eastbound side of the tracks is cordoned off with yellow caution tape and there's a handwritten explanation that both eastbound and westbound trains will leave from the same platform. People are confused. A lone man stands on the closed platform looking bewildered at the crowd of us across from him.
"Dude, you know that side is closed," someone shouts. He jumps down into the gravel that lines the tracks and dashes across. Two women duck under the caution tape just as the guy hoists himself onto our side, and now they are wondering why they're alone on the empty platform.
"Closed," another commuter yells across to them, motioning for them to walk around to our side. They step to the edge instead and peer down at the tracks. The train although still out of sight has sounded its whistle. The crossing arms are coming down.
"Don't cross now," I say aloud to no one.
I'm not nervous about going downtown to see Mr. Ex. Not overtly worried, but my brain is humming with what if this, what if that. I'm wearing cheap shoes, and it occurs to me that he may look at my feet and laugh. It's not that I feel pressure in my chest, but I am aware of my heart and lungs. "Lungs are the seat of grief," a friend told me last week, and I wonder about this for a moment. The train pulls to a stop in front of me and I get on and take a seat. Just before the doors slide closed, the two women slip safely inside.
When I get to Mr. Ex's building, I find that I need collecting, so I duck into the chic little bistro that shares a patio with his high rise. The bar looks like a welcome mat, but I head to the ladies room instead and wash my hands and pat my face with the damp paper towel. Freshly composed, I enter the lobby and take a seat on the couch directly across from the silvery sign that announces that reception for Mr. Ex's law firm is on the 10th floor. His name gleaming. What used to be my name.
On the train I studied the form from the credit card company, and now I look at it again and put a check mark wherever there is information that he must fill in. His current income. The amount of his mortgage. I pencil the check mark a little darker next to the line where he must sign. His signature is the most important part. The part that enforces that he will be solely liable for the account that I have not used since October of 2008. My attorney has told me not to worry that my name is still on three different credit card accounts that Mr. Ex continues to use. The credit card companies have told me I should worry.
So a few weeks ago, I emailed Mr. Ex explaining I would like my name removed from these accounts. I sent him a certified return receipt letter asking him to fill out the form that credit card company #1 would be sending him. Then last week I followed up with another email and a text message. Nothing. So today I went downtown with a copy of the form that the credit card company sent to me.
I didn't have an exact plan when I got on the train. Something, something. Signature. Would I go up to his office? Call him on his private line?
As I settle into the gray velour of the sofa, I decide to call the main firm number and ask for his secretary. Mr. Ex has had the same secretary for eons. "If I die," I used to say to him, "marry P. Really. I want you to." Over the years, I've picked out presents for P.--Cashmere. Jewelry. A creamy white Italian leather handbag. When she answers the phone and I identify myself, it's as if we haven't been out of touch at all. She's just had four days off, she tells me, and she spent the time taking care of her grandson. She managed to cook a chicken and a roast while entertaining him. He sat nicely in his highchair while she peeled carrots. I tell her what I want and she puts me on hold--then gets back on the line and says she'll be right down to get the form.
When P. appears in the lobby, she's bearing a 5x7 professionally done photograph of her grandson. It's safely sealed in a ziplock bag. I find myself wishing I'd made several copies of my precious form and put them into individual plastic sleeves. I take the photograph from her and admire the boy, then hand over the form. She'll be back, she says.
When she returns, the form is completely filled out--even the parts I could have done myself. "Wow," I say. "Thanks." The bright blue ink in my ex-husband's hand bedazzles me. The elevator doors have already closed when I realize Mr. Ex has signed on the wrong line. I call P. again and explain. She puts me on hold and then returns to the phone with an explanation. "He thought you wanted control of the credit card," she says.
"No," I say. "It's a card I no longer use. He uses it. I want my name off of it." I flip my phone closed and wait. A few minutes later P. returns with a photocopy of the form signed in the right place. Mr. Ex's signature remains on the wrong line, too, but I tuck the form into my purse anyway.
At Union Station where I must change trains, I go into the bar and have a gin and tonic and study the form again. On the signature line where I penciled the check mark it says, I am a liable party on the above account and agree that the account may become the sole responsibility of the above party. Gibberish, I think. The next line (no new paragraph) says If approved, my name will be removed from the account. Below are two more signature lines with the parenthetical instruction, (All current liable parties must sign.)
When I get home, I call the credit card company and ask what the current balance is. $15,140.50, they tell me. Then I tell them their form is crap and that they ought to hire me to rewrite it. I tell them I want my name off the account and that I'm worried I'll end up being liable for Mr. Ex's charges and that even if he's signed in the wrong place, I'm not going to go back to him with a new form to sign.
Just send us the form with a letter of explanation, they say.
Train wreck, I'm thinking.