James and I filed for divorce.
. . .
I admit I have been looking at this sentence for hours now. I’m not sure where to go past those six words: James and I filed for divorce.
We decided not to hire a lawyer, which is apparently unheard of in today’s society. Our therapist had suggested it, and we agreed. Lawyers are needed for a number of reasons, including one, helping those that don’t want to or have time to get the materials together and two, creating separation lines with two people that have trouble communicating or simply don’t want to communicate. Our therapist warned us to beware of lawyers because “they tend to create drama when there may even be none.” The last thing either of us needed was drama, and since we have a great relationship, damned if I will let someone else mess it up right at the end. So, no lawyer.
Back to yesterday though. It was strange – everything – and not necessarily strange in a negative way. James came over because my internet and cable have been down since Tuesday. My internet and cable provider were supposed to come, but they stood me up . . . as if that is what I really needed now – a date refusing to show when I am dolled up, ready, and need him. And for the record, let me tell you there is only one real week of the year where I cancel plans to watch TV, and it is Shark Week so not only have I missed practically all of that . . . but I’m convinced this is punishment for something I must have messed up because true Hell is living alone, going through a divorce, and not having cable or internet. Anyway, while I got stood up, it was nice to see James. We got a chance to really talk, again, and it reminded me of things I need to remember.
Once we ran errands – to the bank, notary, and such – we went to the courthouse and were about to pay for parking when the sweetest man snuck up behind us and asked if we wanted his spot. He had an hour left and didn’t want it to go to waste. We snagged it, and I thanked him profusely. It’s interesting – at what times the kindness of strangers creep in . . .
After we parked, we dipped behind the heavy court doors. The sheriff was happy, bubbly even, greeting people as he did security near the front entrance. We slid our possessions down the rolly things and when it reached him, he took a glance as he moved the papers in our direction. “Ah! Marriage! License! Congratulations!” How he could find the tiny words “marriage” and “license” on a paper that said in big bold letters at the top REPORT OF DIVORCE OR ANNULMENT is beyond me. And we didn’t have the heart to correct him. I don’t know how James felt, but I was worried we would break this blissful man’s heart, and I just couldn’t do it, I couldn’t do it. As we walked away, he greeted the next person then shouted back to us, “Everything will be okay!” which was unnerving. Strange way to congratulate a couple about to be married . . . but maybe he’s right; maybe everything will be okay . . .
Inside the clerk’s office, a woman (the clerk) didn’t make eye contact. We waited for her to acknowledge us and when she did, she didn’t even turn her chair to face us, just held out her hand to accept our documents then started stamping, heavily and deeply, and signing each paper she passed. STAMP! sign. STAMP! sign. STAMP! sign. I didn’t tell James but I felt like that STAMP became my heartbeat, and if she paused, it was hard to breathe. It wasn’t that I was dreading what would happen after the stamping or thinking about the future or even saying, “What the hell am I doing here?” I felt comfortable next to James; he feels 100% like this is the right decision, and I 100% trust him and agree. So it wasn’t a moment of freaking out or anxiety or panic. It was more just the pressure and force she was using with those stamps made everything else seem so small – me, him, our marriage, life – and she controlled the world with each hard pound. Maybe she means to do that, though I don’t know why. Anyway, when her stamping was done, we decided I would be “served” right there in the clerk’s office, and it was right then she actually looked at us. “But . . . you’re not – I mean, you’re not . . . L?” as if she couldn’t believe or has never seen a married couple come in together, calm, sweet to one another. When I told her I was, she acted differently. She was nice, helpful – getting a notary to us immediately, telling us what we needed to do, even finding a way to bypass the system to save us some money. Helpful.
In the end, we filed for divorce . . . and can I just say, I hate that word. I see massive, freshly sharpen scissors shining, and in one clean hard SNAP! cutting through our bodies and lives. Then I see red, liquid red, oozing. I hate that word. James and I say this is not goodbye, and I feel like that’s what society tells us “divorce” is – a thick, suffocating goodbye that you may make it out from . . . and you may not. Those people are wrong. We feel it’s our beginning, like we’ve been behind this door – hiding from people, ourselves, the world – and now we are opening it, stepping out. I have no doubt in my mind we will still talk, maybe even see each other, but the future is ours now. We hold our future. Before, I think something else grasped it — tightly – so now, I’m trying to remind myself how refreshing it feels to be in control again.