If you’ve read any other entries here at It Never Rains in Seattle, you’re aware that my marriage fell apart largely because it was strictly platonic, and I wanted a complete marriage while my then-wife… didn’t. At least, not with me.
While my marriage was not my first long-term relationship, I was also no stranger to the single life before getting married. I’d gone for long stretches of time without a romantic partner, and by the time I was married, I had spent many years living on my own as well as many other years with roommates or housemates who were lovers, or platonic friends, or indifferent acquaintances. It was a shame that my marriage turned out to be more of a roommate situation than anything else, but I did not dread going back to being single if it meant that there would be once again room in my life for easy solitude (something not available to me during our marriage) as well as the possibility of romance. Or, at the very least, hot monkey sex.
Commenters on this blog cheered me on, in anticipation of the joys that the single life can bring. And I looked forward to it. And now I’ve settled in quite nicely, enjoying creating a new definition of “home.” I get to enjoy time with my kids, and time by myself. (Granted, sometimes when I’ve had the kids for a long stretch, the first evening without them takes a little bit of adjustment.)
I’ve enjoyed quality one-on-one time with good friends of mine, I’ve attended some small parties, and I’ve even hosted a time or two. I’ve certainly enjoyed exploring a new relationship with my girlfriend, who is as stimulating in intellectual conversation as she is in, um, non-verbal communication. It is often frustrating that she and I live so far apart; our visits in person are far less frequent than either of us would prefer. Yet, I have to say that I also enjoy living in my own place with my own ebb and flow. I can cook when I want to, and I can order take-out when I want to, and there’s really only one person who sets the menu in my house. When I don’t have guests over, anyway. Or the kids. Well, you get the idea.
Single life agrees with me. At some point, I may find myself blending my household with another’s. When that happens, that will be awesome, too. But for now… yeah, single life is working out just fine.
Except for this one thing I never expected.
As you may recall, I had torn the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in my knee during a freak knitting accident toward the end of the marriage. Penny and I were still living together. I had surgery to repair the ACL, which left me without a functioning right leg for a week or two, and that first week of convalescing was truly a drag. And while Penny and I were facing the strain of losing our house and our marriage, she nonetheless made sure my pain meds were handy and that appropriate food and beverages were within easy reach. She kept the kids from jumping on the bed, and gave me time to rest undisturbed. We still had our high-stress moments, but hey, that’s what married people do.
Flash forward a bit to this past Christmas season. We’ve moved to separate households, settled into new routines with the kids, finalized our divorce. By this time, we live about half a mile, maybe a mile away from each other. It’s the holiday season, which means my employer is in “shut down” mode. What better time to schedule some necessary but non-emergency surgery than when I can’t work anyway because of this shut down? (I’m paid hourly, so I’d prefer not to take time off for surgery during normal working weeks.)
The surgery in this case is to repair an “incarcerated umbilical hernia.” That’s a fancy way of saying my guts were trying to escape out my belly button, and that had to be stopped. So, yeah, it’s necessary. But it won’t become an emergency unless and until my guts actually manage to escape. The trick is to have the surgery before that happens.
Building a bionic belly button is nowhere near as involved as cannibalizing your hamstring in order to rebuild your knee. By all accounts, I’m told to expect to take a week off of work, but that really, I should be back on my feet (and eating real food) later the same day of the surgery. Very good.
BUT, because the doctor wants me to have general anesthetic, I must have someone drive me to and from the surgical center. You’re not supposed to drive just after you’ve been knocked out with narcotics, apparently. And they also insist that I have someone sleeping over in case anything happened and I needed help (and couldn’t take care of myself) that first night after the surgery.
That’s what one might call a “non-option”.
If I could have gotten away with it, I would never have even told Penny about the surgery. I find myself increasingly disinclined to have her involved. But, I need her to take the kids during the days that I otherwise would have had them for the first few days after the surgery. A good friend of mine is kind enough to take me to and from the surgical center, and he even joins me for pizza and a movie after I’ve had a brief post-surgical nap. So. Work taken care of, kids taken care of, and transportation taken care of.
But no, I do not have anyone stay over with me that first evening. My girlfriend lives out-of-town, and I don’t want Penny involved, and most of my friends are married with their own families to tend to, while my relatives live just about anywhere in the country but here.
My recovery moves along generally fine, although I notice my blood pressure getting a little spiky for a while. It’s this last point that brings up a very real consideration: what if I were to have a heart attack during convalescence? Hmmm?
As a forty-something guy, I’m not as vulnerable as an eighty-something might be when it comes to sudden illness or injury. But even so, the single life doesn’t mean the same to me as a forty-something as it did when I was in my twenties, either: I’m more at-risk, not so much because illness or injury is more likely, but because immediate intervention is less likely.
Believe me, I don’t sit around worrying about this stuff. I have so many other unlikely scenarios to obsess over. Rather, I mention this because it’s an interesting revelation to find that singlehood at this age is different from when I was fresh out of university.
Fortunately, there have been other, more pleasant surprises about re-entering the single life in my mid-40s. For example, the sex is much better….