Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | May 21, 2012

When Different Becomes the New Normal

Our youngest just turned four years old.

A couple nights ago, I was reading to him and his next older sibling. This was a new book to us; a story about the Bear family. There was a storm, you see, so Baby Bear woke up Papa Bear because he was scared, and Papa Bear lifted the covers and let Baby Bear get into bed where he could cuddle up all safe and warm between Papa Bear and Mama Bear. (I was curious as to where this was going to go, given that I let my own Baby Bear sleep in my bed whenever he asks, which is only every single night.)

“Daddy?” my little one interrupted. He asks more questions than these short books have words. “Daddy? Why are the Mama Bear and the Papa Bear sleeping in the same bed?”

[please pause a moment.]

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my four-year-old asked me why Mama and Papa would sleep in the same bed.

Penny and I have been living separately for about a year and a half. Our divorce hits the one-year mark right around now. (I haven’t actually memorized the date, and I deliberately didn’t post news of the divorce *on* the date that it happened, so I’d have to actually find the paperwork in order to be sure of when, exactly, the divorce was finalized.)

It’s amazing, though, how quickly our “new” life became normal. The youngest takes our new arrangement for granted. And truth be told, his big sibs continue to seem well-adjusted, too.

And while the kids seem all happy and well-adjusted… I haven’t even gotten around to defining my new life yet!

I guess it’s okay to model being a healthy, single dad who is comfortable flying solo to my kids. At the same time, as some of my faithful readers have surmised, I have not been staying home, alone, with no one to talk to when the kids are with their mother.

But I’m also thinking that at some point, it’ll be time to model being a healthy dad in a healthy, grown-up relationship. I want my kids to know what a healthy relationship looks like. There’s no rush, and I’m not going to push it, nor bring home someone before that someone is likely to play a role in their lives.

Still… that question…

Wow.

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Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | February 5, 2012

Time keeps on slipping slipping slipping…

“Time, time, time
See what’s become of me
While I looked around
For my possibilities…”
–Paul Simon

Hello. Remember me? It’s been a while since I posted to this blog.

I’m a father of three young children. I’m 43 years old, albeit not for much longer. A couple of years ago, my wife and I fell on hard financial times; we ended up losing the house, and our family business hasn’t fully recovered. And as all that was playing out, I came out of the denial that our marriage was irretrievably broken. This was nobody’s fault — there was no villain in this drama — but our marriage was dead, and it had started killing me (probably both of us) on the inside. The story of how I agonized about the decision to face facts and move forward is recorded in the previous entries of this blog. Plus the story of how I blew out my knee while all that was happening. And a good friend of mine died of cancer. All-in-all, a pretty rough season in my life.

So, what’s been happening since then?

I know I’ve remarked previously about how my relationship with Penny is very much the same post-divorce as it was during our marriage. We continue to work very well together as co-parents; we continue to handle our remaining entangled financial matters as partners rather than as adversaries; and we continue to talk about politics or science news or other mutual interests. We also continue to never talk about our feelings with regard to each other, or about our former marriage, or about any other aspect of our past.

A mutual friend of ours has been dating another (much younger) fellow grad from our alma mater, and this friend recently posted on Facebook news of their engagement. Penny relayed the news to me — she knows I haven’t been spending much time on Facebook lately — and I wasn’t sure how to respond. As with any relationship that spans multiple decades and thousands of miles, my relationship with this friend (and Penny’s relationship with him, too) has many layers. While I do sincerely wish him and his bride-to-be all the happiness in the world, I’m a little too jaded and cynical at this point to expend a lot of effort thinking about it. And that’s pretty much how I responded to Penny when she mentioned it. It is the most I’ve said to her on the subject of marriage — any marriage — since our divorce.

Likewise, the most she has said on the subject to me was an aside about how some of our mutual friends here in Seattle have been withdrawing from her. She expressed how this had been a difficult year for her, getting divorced and all, and that it felt like her friends didn’t seem to be all that concerned about it. There was much more to that conversation, and about her relationship with these friends, but my point is that one off-the-cuff reference to the divorce. That’s it. For all that we continue to talk, both about the minutiae of child care and the grand sweep of the cosmos, the topic of “us” remains just as unspoken as it did during our marriage.

[I’m not complaining about that, by the way. Quite frankly, right at this moment, I have no desire to pursue such a conversation. It is interesting to me, nonetheless, that this dead zone persists, and likely always will.]

But for all that things remain the same with regard to Penny’s and my relationship, that does not mean that our lives are the same. Far from it. One thing that has changed is time.

As in: I know I never used to have much of it, but now it seems to be gone altogether.

In the last year of our marriage, I would help with the kids in the morning, drop one of them off at school, then go to work myself, come home, help with the kids, do some laundry or some sundry chore, put the kids to bed, then Penny would go to bed, and I would watch maybe some Craig Ferguson and then blog for an hour or two.

In the year since our separation and divorce, I generally have two kinds of days: days with kids, and days without kids. Kid days work like this: I get the kids ready for school and myself ready for work, I get the kids to school, go to work myself, come home, get the kids, shuttle the kids around to and from their various activities, take care of nothing but the kids until its time for them to go to bed, make sure the kids have done their homework, read to the kids, take care of all the chores for that day, collapse from sheer exhaustion, and then start the process all over again the next morning.

On non-kid days, it’s go to work, work late because the work needs to be done (and given the shortage of work I experienced a couple years ago, I’m not inclined to say “no” to my employer on kid-free days), come home late, collapse in front of the TV, do all of the chores that I didn’t get caught up on during the Kid days, collapse from exhaustion in my bed. Repeat.

When you live with your co-parent and you are both active parents, as Penny and I have always been, then you are always on call *but* you are only really *half* on call. When you don’t live with your co-parent and you have evenly split custody, you are only on call sixty-percent of the time, but you’re all the way on call during those times.

Wait, I hear you say. Sixty percent of the time? Not fifty percent? Yes. Because there’s parent-teacher conferences, recitals, and sporting events that you attend regardless of whether it’s *your* day with the kids. Oh, and doctor visits. And so on. And on those occasions, you don’t sit back and watch as the other parent wrangles the kids; of course you help. Because you’re a co-parent. That’s what you do.

Likewise, there’s the chores. When you’re living with your significant other, you split the chores. When you are living alone (half the time with your kids), you have to do all the chores. Oh, and this is true for both households. Penny has to do a week’s worth of dishes and laundry and vacuuming and picking up toys and so on and so on every week, and so do I. Because the kids make the same huge messes in both houses, you  have to cook all week even if you only have the kids half the time, and you have to do all the dishes, too. And the raking (or lawn mowing or driveway shoveling, depending upon time of year). Two houses means twice the chores.

Two parents doing twice the chores they used to and a combined 120% of the parenting rather than 100%… you can see how time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future. I suppose that as my kids get older and more self-sufficient (and even able to contribute to the chores), I may find it easier to decompress after a day’s work and even get more time to myself in the evenings. In the meantime, I need to figure out how to better work my schedule now. I suppose I’ve been in a retrenching mode for a while now. But it’s time to start pulling out of this.

So there it is, my friends. My little treatise (read: whingeing) on why I don’t seem to have any time these days.

In my next post, I’ll tell you the rest of the story as to why I don’t seem to have any time these days…

PS: Yes, my single mommy and single daddy friends, I know you have it worse than I do. I know. And I feel for you. I am truly blessed to have such a good co-parenting relationship. But, then again… just because Christopher Reeve was a quadriplegic, that didn’t make my knee surgery last year any less troublesome.

PPS: when I talk about being cynical about marriage, I don’t mean you, Shannon. Nor you, DelightfulEccentric. You and your paramours give me hope.

Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | September 26, 2011

Kowalski! Status Report!

Yes, it’s been a while. Sorry about that.

Several of you have been kind enough to ping me both behind the scenes on here on the blog, in comments, to ask if things are going okay for me, given that it’s been well over a month since my last post. Is there life after divorce? It turns out that there is. But a lot of it seems to be spent in… recuperation.

The Kids. The kids are doing great, for the most part. I feel like I have to add that last part because, come on, kids are always going through *some* learning curve, whether their parents are divorced or not. The two older kids (ages 9 and 6) are not getting along as well with each other as I’d prefer, and the middle child still resists doing what he’s told… but nothing about that seems related to divorce. It seems more like business-as-usual for 9- and 6-year-old brothers. I’ve been told that the fact that they continue to sometimes not get along shows that they remain secure in their home life; that if their home life seemed too tumultuous to them, they’d cling to each other as islands of constancy rather than try to get each other’s proverbial goats.

The youngest (3), in the meantime, has suddenly pushed back hard on the potty training, which means we are sending him to pre-school in clear violation of the rules on that subject. We’ve never had this kind of outright refusal to use the potty/toilet from the other two, but I suppose each one has to blaze their own trail. Aside from going into the “terrible threes”, our youngest is proving to be very outgoing, engaging, talkative, and expressive. Except for using the potty, he is asserting his ability to do things for himself.

When they’re not bugging each other, the kids are generally happy and engaged. They love to read and ride their bicycles, listen to my music, and yes, watch TV. Speaking of music… all three can tell you the differences between the Run DMC and Aerosmith versions of “Walk This Way,” and each has their own reasons for preferring one or the other, but no, they don’t actually understand the lyrics, and that’s just as well.

The Finances. I continue to be employed, doing work that keeps me intellectually engaged, with co-workers who appear to appreciate my efforts, and a paycheck that covers my bills. I’m slowly recovering from the financial strain that led to losing the house — and, let’s face it, divorce means both parties are now supporting an entire household without the benefit of someone at home to help take care of things. So, I’m slowly starting to regain my financial footing. This is just as well, as my car is starting to show its age, and I need to rebuild a cushion in case another work slow-down leaves me gaps between paychecks.

The job itself has some high pressure moments, but only on days that end in a ‘y’, and while the strain is sometimes a bit intense, I’ve had much, much worse. Still, seeing how much pressure there is… has the workplace always been this high-stress, and I just never quite comprehended that, or are we, as Americans, working ourselves up into a frenzy more so than in decades past? In the past, I could say it was just me putting pressure on myself, but this is my third foray into Big Corporate America, and I’m seeing pressure coming from all sides. Hmmm…

The Ex. Penny and I continue to co-parent well together, which is a blessing, and I dare say we talk about as much as ever. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this here, so pardon me if I’m repeating myself, but I once observed to a friend that Penny’s and my relationship in divorce is not all that different from our relationship in marriage, and pondered whether that meant we had an excellent divorce or a terrible marriage. My friend replied, “Both.”

My health. Physically, I continue to be relatively healthy except for the fact that I’m overweight, and not quite at the top of my game when it comes to strength or fitness. I returned to Tae Kwon Do, but my knee does continue to bother me, and I’ve occasionally caught myself worrying (in the middle of class) about re-injury… which, as some of you may know, can cause one to be more prone to injury. Ugh. It’s difficult enough to try to get in any exercise when I have the kids and need to feed them, wash their laundry, and encourage them to do their homework, but even when I don’t have the kids, there’s so little free time to go around and so much crap I gotta do, and that I wanna do. So, sometimes I exercise, and sometimes I pay bills, and sometimes I sit around in my sweatpants and stare at the walls because I have no energy to do much else. Sometimes I surf the net, but obviously, I haven’t been writing much.

My writing. Um. Uh.

My love life. I’ve been on a few dates with Scarlette Johansson so far. Although we’ve only spent a weekend together at her summer cabin in unbridled passion, I take the fact that she still phones me every night to be a positive sign. Her work keeps her very busy, of course, so that’s managed to keep things nice and light as far as commitment goes. She loves the kids, though, and we can spend just hours talking about anything and everything. Oh, and she says I’m an excellent kisser.

Unfortunately, Sandra Bullock has said I’m going to have to make a choice between her and Scarlette if she’s going to continue to see me, as well. It’s kinda fun, dodging the paparazzi with her, and we’ve made quite a game out of it. But other than Sandra and Scarlette, there’s really not much going on in my love life at the moment.

There’s actually a lot more to tell. Lies about my love life aside, there’s a lot brewing. In a lot of ways, I’m in an in-between place, right now, as far as my head space goes. It’s a retrenching period. I suspect there always has to be one, as you shed one old life and start building a new one. But there has to be more to life than work, feed the kids, collapse into a coma, and then do it again the next day.

There’s more to come on what else is going on in my life, very soon…

Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | July 30, 2011

High School, Facebook, and This is Embarrassing

I know I’ve commented several times in the past about how my life often strikes me as a sitcom.

(Like my Getting Stuck in an Elevator in New York City at quarter ’til Midnight on New Year’s Eve story, or that time one year ago when I killed my laptop, or how I managed to accidentally slit my wrist, etc.)

Today’s story is sitcom plot number 16: Sending the Irretrievable Message That Must Be Retrieved. You know the one. The irretrievable message in television sitcoms is usually delivered to an answering machine (or voicemail or text message to a phone), via a letter, or by way of a third-party messenger who cannot be intercepted. This is a favorite plot of Cheers and Frasier, Friends and Seinfeld, MASH and Three’s Company. Hijinks ensue when the protagonist tries to retrieve the message.

In today’s modern twist… I can’t retrieve the message, because it went out via Facebook.

Here’s the story:

A couple of high school friends have been on my mind recently, for very different reasons. These were two of my very best friends during high school, who later cut off contact with me altogether (again, for very different reasons). Now I realize that high school was a long, long time ago, and there’s a lot to be said for leaving the past to the past. Still, because they were important to me during a crucial time in my life, I still occasionally feel the phantom limb sensation that a severed relationship can sometimes leave behind. It doesn’t happen often these days, but it does, from time to time.

So imagine my surprise when, yesterday, one of these old, dear friends from my past accepted a Facebook friend request that I’d sent, oh, about a year ago.

My smartphone alerted me that my friend request was accepted, and when I saw the name, I logged on to see what I could see. It turns out, this was (as I’d suspected a year ago when I sent the friend request) not my friend’s “real” Facebook account. I had seen his real Facebook page once, a long time ago, filled with tons of pictures and likes and all the rest. This page showed fourteen friends, ten of whom he had just accepted. One of whom was his brother, who had told me (over dinner, about a year ago) the sad tale of how my friend had cut himself off from everybody — family, friends, mutual acquaintances — had gotten a divorce, and pretty much disappeared from the life he once knew.

This was when I dug around and stumbled upon his “real”, well-hidden Facebook page. When I later noticed he was listed as a FB friend on his brother’s page, I sent a friend request. Which brings us to yesterday, when I saw that this particular FB page is empty. No wall posts. Almost nobody linked as a friend. No real information or photos or anything to speak of. Clearly, this is a holding pen.

That’s fine. I briefly considered whether I should put him on a list of FB friends who only get to see a limited version of my FB page. I don’t currently make such distinctions, my thought being that if I wouldn’t want the public to know about it, I wouldn’t put it on FB. Which, btw, is why there’s no mention of this blog on my FB page. But what do I do about someone who clearly isn’t comfortable letting me know anything about his current life, when my FB page is pretty open about what I’m up to?

I decided to let it be, for the time being. I don’t know the real reasons for why he cut me (and the rest of his family and friends) out of his life, nor why now he decides to let me into a contained, isolated ante chamber on Facebook. Still, he was a good friend and made a positive difference in my life, once upon a time, and if he should come back, I will happily resume the conversation.

Okay, that’s not the sitcom part. But you can see where my head was at when another proverbial shoe dropped today. Also on Facebook.

This is another dear friend, also from high school. She had such a significant impact on how I look at the world that there are very few stories about my life that don’t ultimately come back to her, in some fashion. Here’s how important she is: I haven’t even mentioned her directly on these pages before. She’s part of the bedrock; she’s assumed. She was my fiercest rival and my most trusted ally. She has one of the keenest minds I’ve ever met, is intellectually honest (and demanded nothing less from me), has a wicked sense of humor, but also suffered greatly from depression.

I’ve toyed many times with the idea of telling you a little bit about her here in my secret little corner of the blogosphere. But that would take this blog well beyond the end of my marriage and the building of my new life, and into the bigger picture of the Story of My Life.

Oh, and today is her birthday.

Facebook reminded me.

I logged on to FB to see some pics that my sister had posted of my oldest son visiting with my niece and nephew, and there it was in the upper right-hand corner: “Today is Pearl’s birthday! Wish her a happy birthday.”

Pearl had stopped responding to me long before I saw her on FB, but I’d sent her a friend request to see what would happen (this was a couple of years ago) and she eventually accepted it, but there’s been no other give or take since.

So I clicked on the link to her page, and noted that several others had wished her a Happy Birthday. I decided, rather than posting to her wall, I’d send her a direct message.

When you click on Messages, you also see all of the previous messages to and from. There was one. From me, to her: “Sorry I missed your birthday, but here’s a wish for a happy belated!”

Yep. From last year.

I suspect I know why she is not currently acknowledging me, but it really is only a guess. In my happy birthday message to her, my goal was to say, essentially: Look, whatever the reason is that we’re not currently talking, just know that everything’s cool on my end, and I really do wish you a happy birthday, and all the best in the future.

Of course, writing it like that sounds fine enough, but keep in mind, I’ve had the better part of today to think about how I should have worded it. I did what I always do as a writer, I started by writing. It’s easier to re-write something that’s written than it is to write something perfectly out of the gate. So, my first quick stab at it came out like this:

I  apologize for whatever I did, didn’t do, represent, or am that causes me to not fit well into your current life, but I do hope it’s all going well.

No, no, no. That is awful. Besides, I’m not really apologizing, because I have no idea what, if anything, I did. (I don’t really think it’s that simple, anyway.) So, change apologize to I’m sorry, which is true:

I am sorry for whatever I did, didn’t do, represent, or am that causes me to not fit well into your current life, but I do hope it’s all going well.

Bleh. Still sucks. It sounds all… pathetic and sad. I know. I’ll say I realize I don’t fit into her current life right now, but still, I wish her the best, etc., and so let’s delete that and re-type…

Wait. No. I hit delete. Why did you send? I HIT DELETE!!!

Crap. It sent it. There it is, in all its pathetic glory. Okay, if I hover over it, can I see an “x” to delete it, like with a Wall post? No?

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Okay, this is the part of the sitcom where the protagonist thinks up some wacky scheme for breaking into the recipient’s house to retrieve the message and delete it before she can see it. Which would be fine, if she weren’t over a thousand miles away, if I had her exact address, if I knew how to pick locks and could bluff my way into their building, if I could get there before she logs onto her computer, if nobody is home when I get there, if they don’t have an alarm system, if…

Or, maybe, I just write a follow-up note. Because, hey, how could I make it any worse, right?

Okay, I realize that’s just begging for trouble. “We can’t get out of this situation with the same thinking that got us into this situation,” and all that. But, I’m a writer. Let’s see if I can write my way out of the mess I’ve created.

Here’s what I came up with. Keep in mind that this will show up immediately below that stupid sentence that was posted by mistake. What do you think?

Annnnnd, just as I was clicking to delete that and write something less pathetic, Facebook decided to post it anyway. Let’s try again:I realize that I don’t fit well into your current life, but I hope it’s going well. (See? Less pathetic, right?) It’s obvious from the few comments posted here on your FB page that you’ve made a very positive impact on several people’s lives, which is a testament to how good you are.

Someday down the line, we’ll talk again; there’s much to catch up on. The burning question in my mind these days is how to make the world a better place, because it sure does seem to be heading in the wrong direction, and I’m not sure what one person can do to help make it better. But there’s got to be something, right?

Until then, I genuinely wish you the best… and no, I’m not as morose as that first draft makes me sound!

Neener, neener.

–Inris

As for the “burning question,” that’s all true. This is a natural part of the ongoing conversation Pearl and I have been having going back all the way to the beginning. Will the conversation ever resume? Who knows? But I count myself fortunate that I can have this conversation with you, gentle reader.
 
Hmmm… wonder if I should re-read this and revise, or just post it as-is….
Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | July 25, 2011

After Divorce: It Gets Better

…or, at least, it can get better after divorce. And so far, for me, ever so slowly, it has been getting better.

I have commented previously about how, for me at least, divorce is a process. So, too, it seems to me, is recovery.

As readers of earlier posts to this blog already know (and, likewise, anyone who has been through this him-or-herself already knows), there’s a lot of fear when considering whether to get divorced: what if I should fall on financial hard times? What if I never find another suitable romantic partner? What if I suck as a solo-parent? What if my Ex turns into a raging asshole and ties up my assets and my time in court for years to come? What if I never recover my sense of fun or my sense of humor? What if I slip in the bathtub and crack my skull and die, naked and alone, with no one to discover my bloated, pruney body until weeks later, when the landlord — oh, wait, I have auto-pay, so even my landlord won’t realize there’s a problem until the money runs out — well, until *somebody*, anybody wonders enough about my long absence that they actually call the police to have them check on why I’m not answering my phone or the door even though my car is in the driveway and…

Wait. Where was I? Oh, right. Fear.

Talking with friends of mine who have gone through, are going through, or are contemplating divorce or break-up, they all seem(ed) to face the same, biggest fear that I had to confront when considering the Big Split: what if I’m alone for the rest of my life?

As with most people, I’ve found that the best way to deal with the Big Questions like this is to rationalize. In my case, the rationalization went (and goes) like this: if I stayed in the marriage, it was a near certainty that I would remain bitter, isolated, and celibate. By getting out of the marriage, I allowed for the possibility of recovery, reconnection, and (dare I say it?) sex again in this lifetime.

When I broached the subject of divorce with Penny, I didn’t suddenly feel this huge weight lifted from my shoulder. When we moved into separate households, I wasn’t magically transformed back into my previous, fun-filled self (if I ever even was that person). When we snapped the line on our financial ties, the fears didn’t suddenly fly away. Neither did I breathe some huge contented sigh of relief when a judge said, legally, the marriage is kaput. Nor when I started spending time with single (women) friends of mine. Nor when I started making plans to meet-up with fellow bloggers.

And yet. And yet. Have I mentioned this already? Because it bears mentioning more than once, it seems: I look back and realize that ever so slowly, ever so gradually, it’s been getting better. I am getting better.

Let me give you one small, recent example.

I went to the airport to drop off one of my sons, who was set to embark upon a commercial flight to visit his grandparents (my parents). Since he was travelling as an “unaccompanied minor”, I was asked (required) to stay at the gate until the plane departed. On this particular flight, there were several unaccompanied minors. Which meant, there were several parents of unaccompanied minors waiting for this plane to leave. Oh, and the plane apparently was having “mechanical difficulties”, because it just sat there… for, oh, an hour past when it was supposed to pull away.

A woman sitting nearby made some comment to me about something she’d heard me say to my kid or to the gate agent, and we struck up a conversation. She was probably a few years younger than I, but old enough, it turns out, to have a teenager, so she wasn’t *too* much younger than I. She was attractive, well-dressed, and well-spoken. And while I say she was well-dressed, she was dressed like “one of my kind” — ie, like a friend of mine or a co-worker would likely dress; she wasn’t over-dressed or fashion-model-dressed. Her daughter was flying overseas for the first time, so that also put us in the same class mentally — with horizons that expanded beyond staying close to home or “playing it safe.”

Keep in mind that what I’m describing here didn’t necessarily occur to me consciously at the time, but it was obvious on some level that we had a lot in common. We were both parents. We were both educated. We both worked for a living, but got paid a reasonable wage. And as we talked, other common ground emerged: we both liked to travel, we both were parenting solo, we both valued family, and so on. She may or may not have been one of my own — an idea I’ve talked about in previous posts — but she was pleasant, smart, and (dare I say it?) easy on the eyes. Oh, and one other thing: she seemed to genuinely enjoy our conversation as much as I did.

So, when the plane took off and it was finally our chance to leave, I faced a choice: do I try to extend the conversation beyond this chance meeting? Or do I let us go our separate ways, and that would be that?

During a writing workshop I took a few years ago, one of my mentors made a distinction that I’ve taken to heart. Someone had asked about having to re-write a story, and my mentor said that you shouldn’t let re-writes be daunting. Of course you’ll have to occasionally do something over. A concert violinist plays the same song over and over again, and you never hear most of those performances; you only hear the ones that have been honed to the point of being presentable. So, too, with writing: don’t be daunted by failure or by having to try, try again. Instead, recognize it for what it is: practice.

I’ve used that distinction to get over a lot of things that might otherwise daunt me. Like, for example… broaching the subject of giving my phone number to someone I just met.

So I asked her point-blank, as we were walking toward the escalators that would take us away from the terminal: “Are you married?”

“No,” she said, “but I have a partner.” Then she laughed. “A male partner. But… yeah.”

I smiled. I was a little disappointed, but this wasn’t really surprising. She was, as I mentioned, a smart, attractive, woman with a career and a certain resilience. “Well,” I said, “it’s at least comforting to know that there’s life after divorce.”

She laughed again. “That there is.”

And that was that. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I do not tend to be interested in people who are not available (yes, with the apparent exception of my former wife, cough cough), so I did not offer my card, but for that matter, she didn’t run away screaming or beat me over the head with her purse and call me rude names. I didn’t die of embarrassment, nor of fright.

For those of you who think this all sounds a bit young and silly, I’ll remind you that I haven’t been “available” myself since… oh, crap. My five-year college reunion. My mid-to-late-ish-twenties.

So, given that I’m now an early-to-mid-fourties guy who wouldn’t mind some female companionship after years in a broken marriage, this was a milestone. I had a pleasant conversation with a pleasant woman who was previously unknown to me, and it was just fine. It was pleasant enough that, if she weren’t otherwise unavailable, I’d have offered her my card, and whether or not she would have ever called me, I felt great just knowing that I could, well, even get that far. I’m not in a rush to start a new romantic relationship. But it’s good to know I’m not a leper, even so.

One of my blogging friends has named her blog “This Broken Heart Has Hope,” and I think that’s a good title. It sums up my own situation rather well. I don’t feel broken-hearted any more, which itself may also be a sign of improvement, but I’m also starting to feel hope again. I had a nice conversation in person with someone who had previously been a stranger; someone I wouldn’t have minded getting to know better. I’ve been enjoying some awesome conversations with friends I’ve made through this blog. I like making friends. It’s nice to get out there again.

And heaven help me, I just used the word ‘nice’ more than once in this essay. Either my mood really is lightening-up, or I’m up way past my bedtime.

I cannot recommend divorce. Divorce sucks. But if you use it as a tool to move your life forward, and if you continue to try your best to make things better (divorce, like the rest of your life, being a process and not an event), well, there’s hope that it can get better. That it will get better.

Because, hey, there’s hope for me.

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