You may know that I moved in March into a brand new building with the magical dish washing machine, thereby launching the beginning of my brand new life. Right, well, I promptly fell flat on my face with grief at the lost of what had been a 10 year marriage. Mind you, this was all my idea, moving out, making this change, so you can imagine how shocked I was to discover that my brand new life sucked.
That's not true, lots of things about it agree with me. My place is decorated and arranged exactly the way I like. There is rarely a mess, as I'm a controlling neat-freak, which doesn't bother me in the least when I live alone. I realize this trait can be, let's say, abrasive to a husband, lover, full time housemate who doesn't yet know that it's my way or the highway. I like to have a place for everything and everything in its place, which really only works if everyone in the house likes this, too. So, I'm really enjoying the fact that the soymilk is always in the same place in the refrigerator when I reach for it in the morning when I'm not yet awake, because cereal with vegetable broth is just not the same. I like it that all my canned goods are arranged categorically with the labels facing out, partly because it just makes sense and partly because I hate bar codes. I like that my bed is always made. I think I like it inordinately so. A made bed with tucked sheets is easily one of my favorite things in life. And, because I’m devoting less time to my relationship with Mr. K, I'm hanging out with my friends a lot more. I'm glad about that.
Those are just the little things and there are so many more, but there are big things, too. When I get hungry, angry, lonely or tired, it doesn't really matter because there's no one around to piss off, offend or annoy. Hungry, angry, lonely or tired = HALT. This was an excellent piece of advice given to us once--never have a serious conversation if either or both of us are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Whatever it is can wait. I can't say it saved our marriage, but I can say it was enormously helpful. We also added sad, as in grieving, in a funk or depressed because no one's thinking clearly when they're in a funk. So, HALTS. I notice that I have to HALT less often now, because the sandpaper of me is not scraping up against anyone.
Except for my ridiculously noisy neighborhood, which now includes a sports bar/restaurant/night club in my building that's open until 2am and has an unbearably loud kitchen exhaust fan, my place is quiet when I want it to be. Nobody talks to me in the morning. Let me say that again. Nobody talks to me in the morning. I enjoy this even more than a made bed with tucked sheets. You have no idea. Talking to me in the morning is dangerous. I'm not kidding. My good brother-like friend from Senegal (that's in Africa, people, get a globe) had the misfortune of calling me at 4:30 in the morning some months back. All I said was, "It's 4:30 in the MORNing!" And hung up. Later I remembered my rudeness, but have been too embarrassed to call him back. In college, my roommates, who were only slightly less grouchy than me in the morning, learned to just acknowledge my presence in the morning. “Karin,” they’d quietly say with a nod of the head. Then they’d return to doing their hair, putting on their face, what have you, as I shuffled around in a stupor. My husband learned early on to keep is distance from me in the morning, but because he’s such a morning person—singing, chatting, doing taxes—he’d forget and start talking to me. My head would spin, my eyes would shoot flames and I’d shriek, “What are you new?”
I really only have two role models for how post-marriage life works. One, my dad, who had a long series of dead end relationships with, how shall I say this, women who were less than desirable mother figures, finally settling on a woman who'd been married four times before him. Or two, my mother and aunt G, both of whom basically became sexless spinsters filling their evenings with Jeopardy, the Reader's Digest and Spite & Malice (a card game). Over sexed and undersexed, are these my only options? Mind you, there's nothing wrong with a diet of Jeopardy, the Reader's Digest and Spite & Malice, if it makes you happy. I just don't think it would make me happy.
Oh, crap, now I've done it. Now I have to ask myself what would make me happy. My first thought is, "I have no idea." Then it occurs to me that if I don't know, then know one knows. I must know. Okay, I'd like to live in Marseilles, a beautiful Mediterranean town about the size of Portland with a significant north and west African population. That sounds like fun. And it's only a four hour plane ride to Dakar and eight hours to New York, places where some of my very favorite people live. Why not. I also want to finally get my Master's degree in intercultural relations. The plan had always been that I'd put him through school, then he'd put me through school, but just before he graduated I left. Key-rap, I've really screwed myself on that one, haven't I?
I'm not looking for anyone else. Not really. Ironically, since I left my husband, my guaranteed safe sex partner, I've had the most amazing sex drive ever. No sex, mind you, but a desire for it, which is new and exciting. So that's fun except there are two problems. One, with whom will I have this great sex I'm so desiring? I'd have it with Mr. Karin, actually, since we're still trying to work things out, but he's the girl in this relationship right now and doesn't want to have sex until he feels safe and it's making love. Totally understandable. Whereas now I'm the guy sitting through dinner hoping he'll put out. Damn. The other problem is that I'm too afraid to have sex with anyone else. What if I catch something and bring it back to Mr. Karin? What if, a sometimes even greater concern, I'm too fat? What if Mr. Karin is the only person on the planet who could ever find me attractive enough to have sex with and be willing to overlook my many physical flaws? I mean, I'm no spring chicken and I'm overweight. When people fall in love in their 20s, the slow pull of gravity and the added pounds and wrinkles accumulate so slowly as to be almost unnoticeable by the one who loves you. It is precisely because they love you that they are willing to overlook your flaws, my flaws. How does this work at my age and weight?
Yet, I can't imagine spending my life with anyone but Mr. Karin. He's been in my life for twelve years. That's a big deal. That's a huge chunk of my history. It's significant to have someone close to you who knows your stuff and loves you anyway, who's seen you through your darkest days. It's a big deal to move throughout your life knowing that someone, at least one someone, has your back no matter what. There's a deep sense of security in that. Usually that felt cloying and claustrophobic to me, but somehow I'd like it back. I'd like it back, just different. Please don't ask me how. If I knew, I suppose I'd have it already.
So, I wanted this change, this new life. I made this change. I like this change. Yet, I still want the security of that deep love, that history. I want it all back, but only the good parts.