Thursday, October 20, 2011
The Was and the Then
The headlines have been screaming terrible divorce news lately. This and this, and The McCourts and their millions of dollars spent trying to divide their empire. Before my own ugly divorce, stories like these seemed to me to be grand guignol. The characters were too large for real life, towering and garish like those Bread and Puppet Theatre creations. Or that's how I remember it now. How I want to remember it. How I want to minimize it so I don't have to ponder myself staring into the chasm, inching nearer and nearer to the edge. But there's a shadow of a memory that tells me I was one of those puppets back then lurching and staggering even before the end of my marriage, precipitously close to toppling into the crowd. If I really look back at the reality of it, that's what I see.
I'm torn, these days, as to whether or not I should allow myself to look at the Was and the Then. What danger I was in. Remember it, one voice says. Let yourself forget that, the other voice says. The voices aren't letting on which of them is the right voice, but I think it's the memoirist's obligation to remember as accurately as possible. To see myself standing on that bridge. To remember what shoes I was wearing and how I thought about what they'd look like wet. And to tell the nice gray-haired woman--the one who hates to make problems for other people--to go sit in the corner and be quiet if she's going to deal in glossed-over half truths.
I had a social day yesterday. Not the usual course of events for me. Lunch out with a favorite writer-friend, dinner at my place with another friend--someone I've known for decades. When we spoke of the divorce, and how finally yesterday, I got the "notice of entry of judgement," we all chirped the joyous chorus of how much better my life is now, how I'm happier, luckier, healthier. And it is. It is. The comparisons mean nothing though, if I forget what was. What really was.
And it turns out the Entry of Judgement is not the long-awaited end of the struggle. Apparently there is something called the "actual conformed judgement," and if it does not magically arrive in my attorney's office, they will have to send their attorney service to pick it up--and of course there will be a bill for this.
What better way to reminded of all the dark complexities? Oh--and I have a new attorney now, too--the one who is handling the QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order) which deals with the division of the pension and retirement funds. "How long will this take?" I asked her. "Several months," she said.
So the story of my divorce has a five-year frame around it, and I'm still in that story. And there's the part that came before. And the part that will come after.
photo credit: radicalnomad.wordpress.com