Over the years since my divorce, a number of people said to me “Ah but neither you nor your ex-husband have remarried no? You know what that means!”
I know what they thought it meant, they thought it meant that he and I were destined to get back together, that we hadn’t succeeded in finding anyone we like better.
What it actually meant, was that we were both so hideously scarred from being married to each other that embarking on that particular enterprise again seemed, at best, foolhardy. Therefore, we both dated other people (some of us more than others, ahem) but get married? No.
But as they say…Never say never.
Remember when I started this blog four years ago and christened you Foie Gras? It was one of the most despicable edibles I could think of, and I gave it to you gleefully and yes, vindictively, because even as short a time as four years ago, you could still make me very, very angry.
Now don’t be tempted by my use of the past tense, ok? You could still make me angry, and you probably wouldn’t even have to try very hard; but I no longer live in a state of permanent rage where you are concerned, and I think that’s worked well, for both of us.
I remember how you would tell people, in those early days of our union, that the reason we were happily married was that you had ‘laid the table’ so clearly and carefully beforehand. By this, you meant that you had told me who you were and what you expected. And that I had accepted you as such. People, especially men, would eye you with respect “Lucky beggar” I could hear them thinking “See how she has fallen in line”.
But of course, that was incredibly flawed. For one, I didn’t really understand what I was agreeing to. I was in love with you, I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you and I didn’t understand that the ‘single guy’ table you had laid, was the one you would continue to sit at. That I would just be pulling up a chair, getting myself some cutlery and squeezing into the available space. I thought we would be laying a new table, a table for two.
I thought that I would make you so happy that you wouldn’t want all the things you said you wanted (oh, such a cliché). The alone time, the time with the ‘boys’, your den in the house with the huge TV, the liquor cabinet and the door I had to knock on before entering. I mean, how could you want those things more than you wanted me? And why would you marry me if that was the case?
You, and your damn table. Me, and my damn wishful thinking.
Do you know how our son described your fiancée to me when he met her for the first time a couple of years ago? “She’s smart and funny and she calls him out on all his crap. She is like you, but you like you are now, not like you were when you were married to him, or just after. And she loves him. It’s good to see”.
Remember the day we met? It was at one of those pubs, decent but loud music, too much smoke, plenty of alcohol. I was sporting my best sulky, ‘stay away from me’ look - turtleneck top, jeans, boots, eyeliner, looking very much like I did when I was a teenager but with better-kept hair and more expensive perfume. We had noticed each other, and I was hoping you would come over, but your friend came over instead. I was instantly irritated and being me, the next time I caught your eye (over his shoulder) I scowled mightily and gave you my best sneer. And you burst out laughing. Just threw your head back and laughed. Seeing that any smooth plan had just gone hopelessly awry, your friend said “You have to give me points for being a great wingman” and then you strolled over and, well, that was that.
God, was that really more than 20 years ago?
You don’t often turn up on my doorstep unannounced. So it was a shock to find you there yesterday.
Me: Hello. What are you doing here?
You: As suspicious as ever. How are you?
Me: Alright….and you?
You: I have asked XXX to marry me. I wanted to tell you myself.
Me: And she said yes?
You: God damn it, Bouche! Yes she said yes
Me: Ah. Well done.
You: You have the most elegant way of congratulating people. Care to make the toast at our wedding?
Me: Don’t eff it up this time
You: I won’t
And we said goodbye.
It wasn’t my most gracious moment. I am sorry for that. It just felt so weird to be having that conversation with you, in this house. We built this house together. When we were splitting up I said I didn’t want the house, that it was yours, you paid for it; and you said “I don’t give a (expletive) who paid for it, I built it for you and Trou. Please live in it”
And I did. I still do.
What a bizarre merry go round we put each other on. The fights, the women, more fights, the apologies, the reconciliations, more women, and round and round again.
It took me a long time to forgive all that. Almost as long as it took me to see my part in it. There may be divorces that are the fault of just one party, but ours wasn’t one of them.
Thank you for the good things you brought to my life. You made me more resilient than I ever thought I would be.
We made our son. He is both of us, and as annoying as it may be to see each other in him sometimes, we both have to admit that we combined to make someone extraordinary. We both love him more than we love ourselves. I suppose that’s how we finally did it, stopped playing villain and victim, put hurt and humiliation aside, and just focused on what we needed to do.
We’ve been divorced for longer than we were married, and now you are marrying someone else. I have examined my heart for anything as unhealthy as regret, but there is none. We didn’t belong together, and we are far happier, far better people, apart. But maybe now it is ok to admit that we will always have a place for each other, not for the ridiculously bad couple we were, but for the family we will always be, for that place in which all the good moment reside, that place that gives us credit for all the times we tried, all the times we forgave, all the times we put each other first in an attempt to restore what was slipping through our fingers.
I have seen a lot of your face, and I know all your expressions. How delighted you looked when you first said you loved me, how stunned and proud when our son was born and was placed in your arms, how utterly defeated when I finally said I wouldn’t be giving you any more chances and you knew I meant it.
You looked happy yesterday.
Thank you for coming over, and telling me yourself, face to face.
Some might consider that an old fashioned and unnecessary gesture, but I appreciated it. God knows you don’t need my permission; but it felt like you wanted my blessing, and you have that, you both do.
I wish you happiness, always.
And a table for two.