On a slushy cold January day my marriage ended. Sort of. It is, I supposed, more poetically accurate to say that the marriage ended when the ability to tolerate each other ended ten months ago. But on this particular day we stood before a judge, a gentle tired looking man in his forties with a mass of dark hair, while he listened to the details of our agreed upon settlement without interest. He ended the pomp and circumstance of this thirty minute meeting with, “It is my pleasure to grant your divorce. Please note that you are not legally divorced until all paperwork has been drawn up, signed, notarized, and filed with the court clerk.” This disclaimer didn’t surprise me. I had learned in this process, my first experience with the legal system, that when someone said. “Yippie! This is complete,” it was always, always, always followed by a hardy, “HA HA not really,” cleverly disguised in a string of educated sounding instruction for completing the process I though I was completing by attending this very meeting. That was comically followed by an invoice for a hundred dollar bill for every hour spent in the room with me to not get this process completed. Bleck.
After the judge oddly announced it was “his pleasure to grand my divorce” I had four people congratulate me on this meeting over the next two days. The first congratulations felt like a slap of cold air. It was crisp and stinging yet, refreshing and not totally unwanted I suppose. It was meant with good intent, but hung in the air and make me question my emotional stability each time. It stopped me in my tracks and I didn’t know what to say. What I wanted to say was “Congratulations? Really, congratulations like when you graduate from high school congratulations? Like when you have a healthy baby congratulations? Like when you finish a marathon congratulations?? Fuckin‘ REALLY?” It just seemed a very odd, cold choice of words. Were we now says things like, “I know your dog was really sick and suffering. Congratulations on his death.” Or maybe I wasn’t seeing things clearly. Which is why I chose to look at those people, perplexed and quiet and simply respond, “Yeah, I guess.” An impressive retort I know.