Legal Tender

I have touched two important legal papers in the last six weeks. The first was at Ian’s wedding, where, as the theoretical best man, I signed his wedding certificate as the witness. The other was just a few hours ago when I opened the papers finalizing my divorce.

Anyone who has been divorced knows what it is, anyone who hasn’t, no matter how close you were, doesn’t. It is a singular experience.

There is the same heartache that goes with the end of every love affair, and I don’t think it’s any more or any less with divorce, that kind of pain is universal. But added to that is the idea that you might be insane. You look at your ex and you know why you liked them, can imagine how you loved them, can fathom how you sacrificed for them and fought for them and cried over them. But you just can’t imagine marrying them. You can’t imagine that you didn’t see this coming.

The first time you fall in love like that, it sends a crack right down the center of your being, like dropping an old hot pan in ice water. And that’s just that, the crack is there and will be there for the rest of your life.

I’m getting remarried next May, so it’s not like I’m hurting because of this. I was told the other day that my relationship with Jordana isn’t fair because she does everything I want to do. I mean, the reason we are together is because we both do everything we want to do, and almost all of that intersects. The happiness I have with Jordana would have been impossible for me to come close to with my ex-wife.

But I feel so bad for young Sean. I feel like I let him down. He saw a star and he grabbed hold of it and suddenly it was right there in the car next to him on road trips and in his bed and at his side. That girl never understood a goddam thing, that girl always asked for things that young Sean didn’t care about and didn’t care about the things that young Sean loved. But, man, the myth that Li’l Sean attached to the girl, the myth that was the star, that was a beautiful story, and I miss that story, I miss that star.

My family and my fiance read this, sure, but that doesn’t make me want to qualify this. It is an awkward thing, feeling sad for getting release from ultimate doom and sadness. I think about my own parents, and how grateful I am that they are not still albatrossed around each other’s necks. I know that what I loved was never actually there, and I know that she is happier now, released from the lies she told herself about me.

It doesn’t have to be true to miss my belief in it. I’m sure ex-patriots miss home cooking, I’m sure fallen church members miss God even when they quit believing. Too many times did she look me in the eye and gaslight me, too many times did I find myself facing west, waiting for the sun to rise. The things I believe in now are keeping my head down, keeping my cards close to my chest and trusting people who see with my eyes and no-one else.

And after all that, I just sometimes miss that big blank smile and stringy-armed hug after the few moments that our myths about each other matched our realities. I miss the couple we became when, for a few moments, we were able to bend and stretch ourselves into the couple we pretended to each other that we were. I miss being able to say something without always thinking, ‘but, y’know, I thought I was in love, I thought this marriage would last forever, so, I mean, what do I know?’

Mostly? I miss the feeling that I can trust my self.