I loved our house. Truly. We were sort of forced into it when out first house sold in 14 days and the buyers wanted to close 5 minutes later. There was little on the market at the time, and the idea of renting for a year with little kids and a dog put me over the edge. He was less than enthusiastic about the new house. But I pushed. What else is new? I wanted “home” and “done” and it was beautiful and big and had 100 times more closet space than the first house. It was always a source of contention. Every time anything went wrong in the house, I was reminded that it was I who chose it.
Now my house belongs to someone else, and technically I am homeless for a while. That is not to liken myself to people who are actually without the means to have a roof over their heads. But I have to admit, it’s been a sock in the gut every time I have been asked for my address in the last few weeks and had none to give. The look on the receptionist’s face at the pediatrician almost did me in. My mail seems to be lost in space, my belongings are being stored in pods at a storage facility, and my sanity was lost somewhere between here and there.
As we locked the door behind us last week for the last time, my older daughter was crying. He was crying. I was numb. She talked about it being the last time we’d live together as a family. Both girls made it clear they did not want to even drive past the house once it wasn’t ours anymore.
I have purchased a new house, for the first time, on my own. Ever dollar and every ounce of blood, sweat and tears I have will go into making it a home. One of the two homes my kids will go between. It doesn’t close for another month; hence the “no address.”
Our divorce is not yet final either. Finality appears to be elusive in these times. Despite trying to do it amicably and make things cheaper and faster, the reality is a sluggish process filled with angst, endless compromise and 700 legal terms I need defined. It’s a weird and awkward in-between space. We talk about the kids and the details, but rarely -- if ever -- about us anymore. Our 14th anniversary is in a few weeks, and Hallmark simply does not make a card for that one. Could be a goldmine, considering.
I am a painfully honest person, often to a fault. So when I am asked (several times a day) how I am doing, I generally respond as such.
“I’m treading water.”
“I’m coming undone.”
“I’m doing my best”
I’ve learned that most people don’t actually want those answers. They are disappointed or speechless, disinterested, or overwhelmed. But some of them get it. And they show up. With coffee and ice cream and wine and offers of company and dinner and “can I take the kids” or “move in with me, for as long as you need.” And I am once again reminded that this entire experience has rocked my world, but the silver lining have been the rocks in my life. Those I’d anticipated, and those I’d never have expected, but who are the most beautiful gifts nonetheless.
Miles melt away as those who love me hold my hand and my heart. They remind me that I am worthy and that there is a light at the end of this dark path. Friends near and far, who were keeping their own secrets about being in a similar place, call and write and ask for guidance, love and support in their journey. As much as my heart aches for them, it also warms, knowing I am not alone. Knowing that I have been there and get it. That bond creates deep and powerful friendship, where previously there had just been a surface knowing.
Earlier this week I made the decision to go to NY and stay with my family. A short visit had always been planned, but it will now be a few weeks. My brother and sister-in-law are having a baby (my first niece!) and I am sending the kids to sleep away camp from the Long Island bus stop. I work for myself and can set up shop anywhere, so that was easy enough to figure out. But the truth is, I need to get out of Dodge. For the first time in 20 years, the idea of the cocoon of my parents and my childhood home is calling my name and I am heeding the call.
When I return I will begin Chapter 2. Baby steps for sure. New house, new unmarried status, new address and, I guess, in many ways a discovery of a new me.
That new me will likely need some very cute change of address cards.