Everything I’ve learned about divorce, my ex wife taught me over the course of a decade. Everything I’ve learned about marriage I’ve learned from a girl I met about a year ago. To those of you who know my ex-wife and love her, I mean her no shame or insult. In life we do not get to choose who teaches us what.
There’s this girl I’ve been speaking to recently who has helped me summarize the lessons that Jeannette and Mrs. X have taught me. This girl just reappeared in my life and we started talking about deep and meaningful stuff as if we had known each other forever or more like we had just met and wanted to remember knowing each other forever. You ever meet someone who makes you want to forget every day before you met them? It was that kind of conversation.
Jeannette has taught me that marriage is the intertwining of souls that were meant to fit together. It’s like two people who are strands of a nylon cord that are separated. Each person is twisted in just the right way to look like they belong together. People with enough similarities that they belong together and make each other stronger yet remain distinctly individual. Marriage is this thing that is apart from the individuals that are part of it. It is neither of them, it is not both of them, but something new and foreign.
It is easy to forget that she is the teacher and not the lesson. I love her for being the teacher and sometimes I fall in love with her because I think she is the lesson.
My Mrs. X on the other hand taught me the true meaning of divorce. She has taught me that I stand alone. Divorce is not the untwisting of a nylon cord into separate threads. That is how it begins, the slow spinning unspinning of an interconnected life. That, however, is just the beginning. Divorce in its entirety is much more complete. Divorce is the slow digestion of a log in a fire. It is the pain of realizing that everything you thought you were part of is being consumed. It is the slow torture of understanding that it is a slow process that you will watch in awe, knowing that even if the fire was put out now, the tree is dead and the ashes will never replace what once was. It is eventually the joyous realization that you are all the light and warmth that is now bursting forth.
It is hard to remember that she is the teacher and not the lesson. I’ve hated her for teaching me loneliness, but am ready to thank her for teaching me to be alone.
Both these women have taught me about fire. The 3rd was a reminder of sitting at a campfire, telling ghost stories and roasting marshmallows. The reminder that from all the pain and joy life has to offer, all we have left is the memories of moments when we shared memories. When you sit in front of a fire do you see destruction or creation? Is a fire a source of warmth or pain? Is a fire anything more or less than just a fire? When you’re heart is burning or when your life is going up in flames, stop and remember that. Ask these questions around the glow of cell phones and monitors and campfires alike. It is the memories of moments when you share memories that make memories.