The Divorce of a Dreamer
“You’re living the dream.” I hear that a lot. And yeah, this is my dream, at least the start of it. It’s a bit surreal honestly. I’m in Alaska! ALASKA! There’s snow everywhere. I can go sledding anytime I want. Explore ice caves. Conquer mountains, or at least try. It’s better than any Narnia. But four years ago, I would have never imagined this.
Rewind to the end of 2011…
I pull up to an old white house in a small Oklahoma neighborhood. The house is falling apart. The only thing level in it is the water in the toilet bowl. If you set a ball on the floor it will roll into a valley made by the kitchen and the living room. It breathes better than I do. There are plenty of cracks to keep a nice crisp breeze flowing all winter long. It’s siding is painted white but comes off like chalk on your fingers when you touch it. The roof sags like a wet diaper, one good snow and it’s gone. It has character and has been our home for close to a year.
I’m a bit of a romantic and hope this unexpected visit will be a happy surprise. I knock on the door. I have the keys but don’t want to scare her by barging in. We’ve been married for almost 5 years. Sure we’ve had our ups and downs. They’ve been mostly ups. We’ve hit a pretty big wall recently. I want to show her how much I care. That I’m willing to do whatever it takes.
Knock. Knock. Knock. Not too hard, a sincere knock. My stomach jumps when she pokes her head into the living room. Our eyes meet through the diamond shaped window in the door. She’s just getting out of bed. Her eyes say “Oh no…” as she shakes her head and lips a plea. Now’s not a good time. She doesn’t want to hurt me, but she is not alone.
I found out a few weeks ago. She told me. I know it was hard. I can’t imagine having to tell someone that. Especially, someone you love. Now, I’m determined to fix it. We’ll make it work.
I try to keep my mind clear. She’s already crying. He’s in the bathroom. I’m not yelling. I’m not mad, I haven’t had time to be. I don’t even know if I’m in my body. I’m floating somewhere near the ceiling. I escort him out and hear myself speak in a quiet shivered voice “I think you need to leave.” I open the front door. He jerks his arm away from my hand and walks off the porch. I’m shaking on the inside. I imagine I’m shaking all over. Once he’s gone. I express the “How could you?” and walk out leaving her crying on the floor.
10. 20. 30 minutes later, I return to that rickety old house. Clearly as stable as our lives. I walk in to find she hasn’t moved. She’s still crying. So I wrap my arms around her. “Why can’t you just let me hurt.” She whispers. “I need. to. hurt.” She genuinely means it, but I can’t understand. I just keep holding her, “because I love you”.
Over the next year…
The carpet is long but not quite shag. It’s as comfortable of a floor as could be asked for. I lay sprawled out on my back like the outline of a corpse at a crime seen. The situation is not getting better. My eyes are fixed on the ceiling fan. It has a slight wobble, but I think it’s securely fastened. I chase the blades with my eyes. I’m trying to process all that’s going on. Did you know if you blink fast enough you can almost freeze the fan blades in place. I blink rapidly and try to get a clear view of the blades. Breath in, exhale.
I understand depression. At least on some level. I keep telling myself. Tomorrow you will feel a little different. Next month, you won’t feel the same. In a year, who knows where you’ll be but you won’t be here. I doubt this ceiling fan will be either.
I was right. It’s the end of 2012 and we’re divorced now. It was the right thing to do. It would be wrong to force a relationship where one feels an unbearable guilt every time they look at the other. That’s not love it’s torture. I don’t want her to feel that way. That might hurt me more than her. It was time and I was ready. I’ve moved back home. And if you’re wondering about the ceiling fan, I’m not sure what happened to it. I just know I’m not looking at it.
I have had my share of ups and downs these last few years and I’m sure I’ll have more. They’ve been mostly ups and I’ve continually found new things to be excited about: White Water, the Appalachian Trail, Coaching Soccer, Bryson City Outdoors, Napa Valley, Seattle, Leadville, Wyoming, Montana, and now Alaska! It didn’t just happen over night. It has been years in the making. I’m not same the same person I was 4 years ago. I’m not the same person I was last year. I like to think I’m being molded. Somehow the worst circumstance of my entire life has become one of the best. It has been the biggest catalyst for change. I’m becoming who I’ve always wanted to be, who I’m supposed to be, and one day I’ll be that wrinkly old man with the great stories. A published writer (Nat Geo even *wink*). Or just a normal dude with a family. All good outcomes. And in the end I hope I leave you inspired. Not to follow in my footsteps but to find you own. To live your dream.