This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
The Hollow Men
-- T. S. Eliot
I got my arm back today, and my teeth, in a bag. Shall I have a taxidermist mount them in a frame suitable for hanging on my bedroom wall? That's what divorce is like. It's like getting your teeth pulled, one at a time, over the course of weeks, without anesthesia. When you have no more teeth, they cut off your arm. Then they give the whole mess back to you in a plastic bag, and you're left holding these things and wondering what in the hell you're supposed to do with them. A certificate of marriage commemorates a real thing, a new interpersonal structure that exists now, a structure which you and your partner make, that did not exist before. It is a structure of which to be proud, to cherish. You can hang a certificate of marriage on your wall, if you are the type to do such things. Divorce is not a thing; it is the absence of a real thing, in much the same way that darkness is not a real thing, but merely the absence of light. What does one do, exactly, with a divorce decree?
My watch just beeped. This is the twenty-first century. Very few houses anymore it seems have those old grandfather clocks which measure out human lives in their steady stately ticking and melodious chiming. This is a more graceless age, to paraphrase Don Henley's very appropriate song for this occasion. (namethattune anyone?) We children of the Third Millennium measure out our hours in beeps, or afternoons and coffee spoons, as Eliot put it. The most recent beep tells me that it is now midnight, Friday, April 30, 2004, and according to the ex wife, from a phone call earlier this evening, about mail she received today, this is the start of my third day as a "free man". As Janis Joplin pointed out, "Freedom's just another word for 'nothing left to lose.'" Even now, the finality of it keeps fading out of my conscious attention and then comes back in flashes like a stab in the chest with an icicle.
I'm having a hard time understanding what I am feeling and why. This is the drawback of being a "T" type person. Feeler types have their emotions figured out a bit better. I've read journals where they unravel their feelings like I tease the functionality out of a piece of unfamiliar software code. I don't want her back. If she came to me now, or two months from now, and told me that she had made a big mistake in leaving me, I would be pained, and I would tell her that it was too late, and I would not consider it, for fear of setting myself up for this all over again. I don't want her back, and yet I still love what she is and what she was to me and I miss her and I feel bad for not wanting her back. It feels like failure, like I have carelessly dropped and broken something sacred and irreplaceable, and that is a bitter cup to swallow.
I'm feeling sorry for myself. I don't like it at all, but there would seem to be nothing that I can do about it right now. Things are bad. The courts seem to believe that I can live on one quarter of my salary and pay the rest of it to my ex. I don't think that is going to happen, which means a lot of wrangling around with a lawyer and paperwork, which I would have rather avoided. I don't even know how much recourse I have, which is scary. I only know that with the bills I have now, what has been decreed may as well have been a request for the moon on a platter. It's completely impossible. It's too mind bogglingly impossible even to think about right now.
More than the financial, too, is the spiritual. I have almost found myself at square one again in life, except that I am no longer twenty. It has been seven months since Crystal left. To paraphrase some Hollywood personality or other whose name escapes me, it's been so long since I've had sex, I've forgotten who gets tied up. For more than a year I have been numb. I have been frozen to the core for so long that I got used to it, didn't even notice it. Within the last couple of months or so though, something has caused that slumbering core to wake up. This has been both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, I have started to feel fully human again. I had been terribly unaware of what I had let fall into hibernation. It was serendipity that I came across the right set of circumstances to shock that part of me awake again, and make me hunger for spiritual values again, which is a very good thing. On the other hand though, it is terribly dispiriting to meet a woman who evokes such a powerful resonance in me, and then realize that she is not the same age as me -- that she is not for me -- that our roads will never cross. There are so many things I could offer someone, but newness is not one of them. Even though I am currently living in circumstances superficially similar to this, I will never be that youthful man fresh out of college with every possibility in the world ahead of him, and open to him, and that is such an important thing to young women. Regardless of what I may attain for myself eventually, I am not sanguine about recovering what I have lost. I fear that that kind of family life is closed to me now, and that was something which I truly treasured. I am not sure how I will come to grips with that, if that assessment turns out to be accurate.
I have to sack out, before I get maudlin. In addition to the mundane and trivial trials, and the less trivial trials accompanying an involuntary transition to single-hood, I fear I have some larger issues and problems to consider and tackle. Where in the hell is the bottom? All I want to do is just grab a hold of a couple of rocks and stick them together and say, "Here, I have staked my place once more, upon this spot I shall build grander and better than I have before," but my hands and feet seem to find no purchase anywhere. The music has started to become frenzied and demonic, and I must tap dance ever faster to keep up, or be lost. I hope this damnable insomnia is ready to give up for the night. I also wouldn't mind seeing this bout be over now too, because it's starting to get just a little old, dealing with it this many days. Ah well, better premises tomorrow.