The Birthday Cake
I received an email this week. In my inbox, which is where emails usually arrive. It informed me that my chronicle-blog-whatever was one year old. And it was accompanied by a rather endearing graphic, which featured a slice of cake with a single candle in it.
Now I’m not much one for cake. Alright. I don’t like cake. Okay, I hate cake. I’m more of a salt person. But I was enchanted with the graphic. It must have reminded me of something I’d seen as a kid or something. I kept going back to it. Looking at it.
And then I started to think; one year. Anniversary. Holy crap, I should take stock!
Okay, so it’s been one year since it started trying to make sense of what happened to me. And the way that I make sense of things is that I tell stories. About me. About my friends. About the people that I meet.
So now I have to tell the story about how my writing about all this crap is one year old.
How do I do that? As usual, I have no idea. So I’m just going to plunge in.
I had to see my ex the other day. By which I mean he had to see me. As I have already mentioned, we work in the same building, and usually, when he runs into me he pretends to have a very important message on his phone. Or he crosses the street. But the other day I had to face him. In mediation. We are sorting out our separation agreement. Divorce is close. We just have to agree on the settlement and put our signatures on some papers and then the papers will be filed and will make their turgid way through the New York court system. And, at some point in the future, we will no longer be married.
And I was surprised how much hurt I could still wring out of the situation. It hurt that he couldn’t hide his eagerness to be legally shot of me. Still, after all this time, it hurts that he can’t find it in his heart to be gracious about that, to hide that impulse to inflict pain.
I thought he was a bigger man. I thought he was a kinder man. In that, as in so many things, I suppose I was wrong.
I felt like crying in the meeting, in front of the lawyer and everything. But I didn’t. I waited till I got out of the meeting, and was making my way back to work. I cried a little, not a lot. And it’s New York. Nobody notices. Or if they do they’re too practiced in the art of being New Yorkers that they don’t register it.
And it made me think I haven’t cried my last tears yet. Because he’s still that kind of man. And he still has that power.
Still, a year has passed since I began this epistle of terror and pain and friendship and joy and lust. And I would like to take stock but I don’t really know how to do that accurately.
My impressions would be snapshots. Polaroids accurate at the time of their taking, but after which they quickly begin to fade.
Take the other day, for example. I was thinking about life and was filled with an unaccountable and profound sense of gratitude to my ex for giving me no choice but to forge this wild new path.
When I thought about all this year has given me; new friends, crazy adventures, the company of kind and fun men and women that I would not have met otherwise, I should be sending my ex a bouquet.
For instance, I spent last Sunday night in a Haitian jazz club. Dancing and having a splendid time. The Trayvon Martin verdict had just been announced and it was all over the television screens, but the Haitians, because they are fully conversant with racial injustice in all its permutations, shrugged and danced.
The stagnant waters of my marriage would not have allowed for such unalloyed frivolity. No, they would not have.
It was one of those evenings when you wake the next day and think, ‘yeah!’
And yet I still haven’t figured out how to afford to buy my apartment. Or indeed what I will do for a living on January first. Maybe there won’t be anything to do. Maybe I won’t have anywhere to live.
The Norman has re-emerged with fresh promises of employment in Europe, and he remains optimistic that he can put me in that picture. But still. Nothing is definite.
So that’s all I know is that I don’t know.
But that feeling doesn’t engender the same sense of panic that it did a year ago.
I’m learning that this feral life, without a husband, without a discernible plan, is fun for me right now.
It suits me to roll with it. To wake up on Sunday morning and have no idea that I will end the evening in a Haitian jazz club with a handsome friend who dances like the devil on day release.
At this very moment, and it is only a snapshot, I like this life.
And I’m learning to live with the banal truth that you have to embrace the lows if you want to enjoy the highs.