Yes, I like metaphors. Haven’t you noticed?
Today’s metaphor is brought to you by way of a movie cliché: the Mexican Stand-off, in which our heroes have locked themselves into a dangerous impasse. The gunslingers stand, weapons drawn and aimed at each other. Neither will shoot, for fear that the adversary’s dying reflex will produce a deadly return shot. Neither will set down their weapon, again for fear of being shot. Neither can back away, for that means giving up all the gold they had fought for. The stakes are high.
Once Penny and I had The Talk, and decided that it was time to divorce, we immediately ran into an impasse. It seemed impossible to find one end of the thread or the other that we could pull on to begin disentangling ourselves. Given that, like the gunslingers in their Mexican Standoff, we both had shared goals (the welfare of the children, etc.), we had to move very carefully so as not to destroy or abdicate our goals, but also so as not to set off each other and destroy ourselves in the process.
Who moves out first? Well, that partially depends upon an agreement on where we are going. How do we decide where? That partially depends upon our financial situation. How do we resolve our financial situation? That partially depends upon the disposition of the business, other assets, other liabilities, and the house. How do we figure out what to do about the house? That partially depends upon who moves out first.
And so on.
In fact, it has all been so much more complicated than that. The timing of everything seemed to hinge upon the timing of everything else, and we could never seem to find the one starting point that didn’t rely upon resolving something else first. Add to that Penny not actively participating in the divorce process any more than she participated in the marriage (considerably less, in fact), and my hesitance to push her forward down this road, and our impasse has been nearly perfect gridlock.
A few weeks ago, we received notice from the bank that holds the first mortgage on our house that they were commencing foreclosure, and they had set a preliminary auction date a few months away. A friend of mine who is familiar with the workings of foreclosure offered suggestions on forestalling this turn of events. Instead, whether wisely or not, I chose to let this play out. The bank is moving forward on its threat; let that set the timing upon which the rest of this mess can be based.
Now, it doesn’t matter that Penny agrees to look at apartments — she has to actually do it. This home we built and live in will not be ours much longer, and she and I both need new places to live. Now, to the extent that our geographic locations matter to each other, we have to make decisions and act on them; it’s not enough to get bogged down in what-ifs and oughtta bes.
She started looking. Old theories fell apart in the face of new realities. We picked a more appropriate neighborhood. A house I’d been looking at for months has been coming down in price; it fits both my and our criteria perfectly. I made an offer on renting it for myself, while she considers nearby options.
After looking at an option that she decided to make an offer on, she and I briefly talked one morning about us both making our respective offers. There was that pause, that moment of recognition, where it was obvious we both knew what was up: this is it.
This is really it.
And it felt like we should acknowledge the moment. It felt like one of us should say what needed to be said, to mark the crossing of this threshold (much like answering the question “is there any hope for reconciliation?” was a threshold). And I not only refused to do it, I kinda moved along quickly to get my stuff and get on my way to work. I didn’t dwell on the moment, even as much as the moment seemed to demand it.
There have been some changes in our plan of attack since that morning; she has made her offer on that one property, but has decided to pursue a few others that might be a better fit. I’m still in negotiations on mine, but I expect that all to be resolved within a day or two.
I realize it’s kind of a cheap trick, but I think I may have managed to break this stalemate — without anyone getting shot so far! — by allowing the Big Bad Bank to play the role of the heavy. Yes, it means I’ve come to terms with giving up the house. But if that’s what it takes to move forward with my life, then let’s get on with it.
It could well be that by this time tomorrow, I’ll know my new address, and be able to start moving in next week.