Sunday, February 8, 2015


Somehow this is not how you envisioned it, midday grey skies coaxing through the windows that you notice are in need of polishing before the people come to look at what is there. You envisioned bourbon in glasses and smoke and arms fisted up into clenched hands wrestling over who gets what. But it's not that. It's a Monday and you are starting with the bigger things when your partner of so many years lays it out for you. There isn't a lot there, honestly. Extracting the family pieces that you've either dragged with you or recently dragged in, there's not a lot there worth keeping. Old mattress 10 years on that may need replacing (that saw both of your children home), bunk beds the kids no longer want, too many items from IKEA to warrant a move across half of the nation. Save a few pieces of furniture, all of the accumulated knick knacks and a heavy lift in the kitchen, glassware and dishes, there simply is not much there. Easier to pitch it, give it away, parse it out and buy anew than to spend what it would take to bring it along.

You are not ready for the gut-punch that this brings, the sudden thought of this person you've been with for so long starting a life with barely a trace of his old, your history's imprint erased from the smooth arms of the chair, wiped clean off of the glasses, not nuanced in the myriad of future choices he would make about his accommodated life. But it's not the you being erased that is the gut-punch, it's the history, it's the together, the starting over and moving on.

And for the next few hours, you ruminate over what investment means in a marriage. What not having a lot in common to divide up means. You want to lift this metaphor into the narrative of your marriage, to use it as a tool to make your case. It's proof, you think, because the bigger truth is your heart is sore, because accumulating/not accumulating objects feels like it should mean something, because after 14 years you expected more to be there, because you can't quite erase the image of your partner's back entering a home, not your home, to start anew.

You would be foolish to leave your thinking there, so you don't. You remember hours in the garden, great meals in the kitchen, small people at soccer games and school board meetings and graduate school. You remember moving and packing and unpacking and fishing trips and the long stretch of time that this house you are leaving has afforded you during beautiful summer weather and magnificent fall leaves.  Fourteen years, not measured in big things you bought, slippery to hold onto save for the two bright and amazing beings the world will delight to receive someday. Slippery to hold on to save the small objects from faraway places that you hope his future partner won't ask to remove, the pieces that were too beautiful to let go of, the pictures you stack to split up, the wedding invitations you set aside for the kids, the bags and boxes of life moved through that you haul to the curb. It's all there for the viewing, all of the miles and years of hopeful emotions that you relive in each pile, your heart too soft for this work of winnowing what's worth keeping and what's worth leaving behind.

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