The Ethiopian

by whatsthatyousaymrsrobinson

My apartment is assuming cave-like qualities. I’m like an animal that just happens to live indoors.

There’s a pile of dirty dishes in the sink that never seems to diminish, no matter that I rarely cook or eat. I haven’t done any proper housework in weeks. There are dead, unidentified insects on the windowsills. The vacuum cleaner is sitting in the middle of the study, and has been for a long time. The Spaniard has been gone for months yet I still haven’t put the duvet she used into the cupboard. It’s sitting on a chair. Before that it was sitting on the floor.

Papers are piled high in places they shouldn’t be. The fridge contains condiments that my husband used but I never will. The fridge contains no food. I’m not sure exactly what’s inside the compost pail, but it is alive.

There is mold in the dishwasher. The closets my husband emptied are cluttered with a forest of hangers that for some reason he didn’t take. I haven’t hung my own clothes in there, so it looks like I live with the memory of a dead person. Mostly I don’t hang my clothes, I lie them gently in wrinkled heaps.

There’s no hot water. The boiler is broken. Has been for weeks. I haven’t called the plumber. When I get in the shower in the morning I mutter a bastardized version of the Macbeth quote, “Would it be done, better it be done quickly.” Something like that. My showers are two minutes, tops.

The wifi doesn’t work because my husband set the password and now he can’t remember it. I could find out how to reset it, I suppose, but I haven’t.

I came home the other day and really saw my apartment. Because I have a date on my mind. The date is September 1 and it marks six months to the day that my husband told me I was getting divorced.

One of the questions I’ve been asking people who’ve also waded through this kind of garbage is; when the hell does it stop hurting? I know Pema Chodren wants us to be all lovey with pain, and I did try that for a good two to three minutes, but the fact is, it’s exhausting and I’m tired of it.

So six months is coming up and I want to draw a line. Any kind of line.

In the past six months I’ve sometimes had a vision of me jumping from ice floe to ice floe, clinging to whatever—or whomever—will help me pad some time around the hurt. It’s lead to some questionable decisions, no doubt, but although I’m a world champion self-critic, I decided to take a vacation from all of that. I’ll get back to being my own worst enemy at a later stage. Absolutely no rush.

Still, I see that it can’t go on.

Which brings me to the Ethiopian. I haven’t met him yet. He’s eleven months old. He’s in an orphanage in Addis Ababa. His adoptive parents are wrangling his visa, and everybody is eagerly awaiting his arrival in New York. My friends have been through years of hell, trying to get to this place. They deserve this little kid, and they’re going to be great parents. The best.

I’ve seen his photos. I want to cuddle the cute little guy.

But I won’t be able to do that immediately. And neither will anybody else.

When the Ethiopian arrives, he’ll be sequestered with his parents for some time. He cannot have contact with others because he must bond with his own family first.

This is necessary because in his fragile, orphaned state, he’ll bond with anybody.

I’d been searching for a metaphor to describe my broken self. I went with pinball for a while.  But it didn’t seem visceral enough. Raw was the best word I could arrive at—and it didn’t seem startlingly original.

When I heard about the Ethiopian I saw it. I realized that I’ve been concentrating on the most obvious emotions of divorce—the shock and the anger and the disbelief, the headline stuff: I had quite forgotten to examine how it had carpet bombed my confidence.

As of this moment, I’m the bipedal equivalent of the city of Dresden.

I think—in fact, I know—that there’s a part of me that believes nobody will ever find me attractive ever again, and that’s my earned fate.

I am so crushed that I cannot even imagine why a man would even want to go out on a date with me, let alone have a relationship. The concept seems so foreign as to be laughable.

Emotionally speaking, I’m that little kid sitting in the orphanage in Addis.

But it’s time for that to change. After six months the bar can be a little higher. I’m up for it. There are things I want to accomplish that don’t involve cheap beer and casual hook ups.

There is no choice for it. I’m going to have to act like I have some self-esteem until some happens along.

I think I’ll start with cleaning the apartment. Maybe I’ll even call the plumber.

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