Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I'm getting a divorce. For whatever reason I've decided to call it quits. The reason doesn't matter. Okay, that's a giant lie; but let's just pretend that it doesn't matter. Let's say no one was at fault, that my marriage just didn't work out.

"That's how the cookie crumbles" and other little annoying sayings will now be repeated to me for the next year. When they (coworkers, family, friends, and strangers in the bar I start to talk to after one drink too many) ask me if I'm okay in a tone of voice that makes me want to open their mouths and shove tennis balls down their throats, I'll just say I'm fine. I'm fine. Dandy. Wonderful. Freaking Fantastic - and yes, I will say it with capital letters.

Before I knew it I had written my name next to his for the last time. It was a final sheet of almost blank paper with titles like "The Petitioner" and other legal jargon typed across it. As the ink slowly dried on the page, a stark black that is now forever imprinted on my mind, it hit me that very soon I would be legally divorced.

I'm 23-years-old. Aren't I a little young for this sort of thing? My husband and I were married before our 21st birthdays. We weren't even old enough to drink legally at our wedding, not that it mattered. I remember looking at my left hand while I sipped champagne - a ring, a band, a mark that said forever in silent desperate words. I have to admit it scared me even then.

I beat most of my friends to the altar. They followed one by one, paired up and matched up like they were ready for the Flood to start and with looks on their lovesick faces like "Where's the damn boat?" If they aren't married they are thinking about getting married; and if they are married they are thinking about kids. And I'm getting divorced. I'm the perpetual third wheel, or fourth - if they already have a cute drooling bundle of soggy joy.

That isn't the worst part. The worst part is when it comes to girls' nights out. They turn to me with sad cow eyes after talking about their kids and ask if I want kids. The word "no" rolls out so fast and hard off my tongue I swear you could clock it in at 90 miles an hour. I don't hesitate. I don't sit and think. I spit that word out before the god of mischief and misfortune decides to give me a surprise the next time my cycle comes around. Oops, birth control is only 98% effective and those little blue lines on the home test kits scare the crap out of me.

If it isn't the sad cow face over kids, then I get the look for the fact that I just want to be alone right now. I don't want to be someone's wife, mother, or girlfriend. Right now I'm happy being me, relieved not to have to worry about anyone, or do someone else's laundry. I don't want to get married again. Sure I want a long-term relationship with a wonderful dreamboat man, but I don't want to live with anyone again. You can have your house and I'll have mine. We can do sleepovers and have pillow fights.

I was lucky in that my divorce has been easy. It shouldn't be this easy. We had no debt, no kids, and no house. We shared a last name, something that very soon will be changed, and that was about it. I'm starting over for the first time. I'm doing things I had never done on my own: my first bank account, my first cell phone bill, and my first apartment. I missed out on a lot of firsts because I went straight from living with my family to living with my husband.

I'm a divorced woman. Okay, so I'm not divorced yet since a judge hasn't signed the papers, but it's pending. Even though I wish it didn't, being divorced does come with a certain stigma. A very cute guy told me the other day that he would never date a divorced woman. My family doesn't believe in divorce. You hear the word divorce and even in our very modern society it rings certain bells. Maybe not as much as it used to, but I live in the Bible belt, and around here they take marriage seriously (which is why, here in Oklahoma, we have one of the highest rates of divorce in the country). I would cough and say "hypocrites" here, but you wouldn't be able to hear me.

You would think being the person that makes the choice to leave would make it less painful; when you shove everything you own into trash bags and grab your hissing cats that it would hurt less. Never believe for one moment that the person who leaves isn't in pain, that their heart isn't breaking, broken, gone. Throw in a nice healthy dose of guilt and you've got yourself one hell of a deal. I just can't understand why everyone hasn't tried this at least once.