Does It Mean a Thang If You Ain’t Got That Ring?

After years of riding that roller coaster of love, I’ve arrived at a new place: The future.
Sure, the last go around included a discussion of moving in together, possibly having a child together, but it was all contingent upon the completion of a year apart. All those things were far away in some distant plan I couldn’t yet visualize, and I really only had a matter of weeks to mull them over before the ideas were eviscerated. (See previous posts)
I didn’t think I would ever love someone in a meaningful way ever again, so I really hadn’t revisited my own feelings about marriage, children or “family.” I pretty much had the love of the only male who would ever matter to me forever, so what was there to think about?

slob

Single life can be so fulfilling

Now I’m stuck in the present– a deep well of emotional uncertainty. Sure it’s cool, comfortable, and giving me life, but it’s a limited view of the world around me. I don’t know how deep this goes, if these feelings will ever run out, what the “light” outside the tunnel is to me.
Worst of all, I’m a bit afraid to think about any of that for fear I’ll be disappointed.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve chosen to spend my time focused on the great things I possess rather than mull over the things I don’t. Sure, I thought I’d have a better job and be more financially stable by now. I expected to remain married until death, and a child, which I now have and adore, had never really been “in the picture” because of prior struggles in my life.
However, I am healthier than I’ve ever been. My son is brilliant, and makes me proud every day. I have tons of artistic, loving, intelligent and impressive friends whom I enjoy. I feel as though I spend my time with the people I love doing the things I love.

ladies

Cupcake Church 4 LIFE!

And then, of course, there’s my love.
Yes, I can choke the word out now. After weeks of struggling to accept the vulnerability that it drags along with it, I revel in knowing the love I have for this man I have the pleasure of calling “mine” is requited.
I feel it’s warmth radiate from his heavenly body when he pulls me into him. I see it fold into tiny stars that line his eyes as he smiles. Most importantly, I feel it when he goes above his own comfort level to make me happy. People tell you all the time, “I just want YOU to be happy,” but he doesn’t just say it. He makes it happen.
He knows I like to take photographs, so he suggests we go to some of the most beautiful places around to capture them. Together. He knows I like the charm of a street fair with local vendors, so he plans a trip to the farmer’s market. Together. He knows my son is the most important being on this planet to me, so he suggests kid-friendly activities for us to do… together.
When I wake up with irrational nightmares of his absence; fears of him leaving us behind like everyone else, the sound of his heartbeat as he holds me to his chest is my deafening mantra of comfort.
I know for a fact, I’m happy. I love him, and I want nothing more than to be with him. He’s genuine, kind, benevolent. While I’ll always want him, I’m finding I need him more each day.

happy

Luckiest woman evah.

With that intimacy comes questions, though. (What I surprise, Malinda has to question everything)
Mr. Pahhh rasss has made it abundantly clear, he doesn’t want to get married. He doesn’t want to have children.
Ever.
He literally just wants to keep floating through this life, enjoying it as it comes at him. I can’t blame him. It’s a beautiful thing, life is, and we never really control it, so what’s the point in trying.
But what does that mean for “us?”
He’s made a very important promise to me… that he won’t leave until I tell him to go. That he will never stray to another, and I’m starting to believe that with our histories of unfaithful spouses, hurtful divorces and heartbreak, he’s telling the truth.
That goes for the no marriage and kids thing, too, though. I believe he knows what he doesn’t want, and I would never try to change his mind.
I just don’t really know if I mind.
Marriage is great. I’m a huge fan of it. What’s better than a celebration of and dedication to love? (Money, sex, chocolate, whiskey… okay, there are a few things) As much as I love the idea of marriage and I try to share in the excitement surrounding matrimony, I could be happy with someone for the rest of my life even if they didn’t want to sign that contract.
I understand that after divorcing once, some people aren’t exactly eager to get back into that tux and slap a ring on someone’s finger. Divorces are tough on the heart and soul, and sometimes the pocketbook. I grappled with the idea of being 25 and divorced for some time. I felt like a quitter; I felt like I had betrayed my own supreme ideals.
Now, I’m just like, “Meh.”
Getting divorced was the best decision I ever made. I’m no so scared of it I would never agree to marry again, but I’m not exactly dying for a diamond. Having a companion is the best part of marriage, and as long as I could have a companion I love to be with, I’m good.
Babies, on the other hand… sigh.
Again, I never really thought I’d have another child, multiple times in my life. After Cullen, I did vow never to have a baby unless I had a solid foundation with the other potential parent, but that was about it.
My second life love had expressed a desire to procreate, rather unexpectedly, and, rather unexpectedly, I was quite responsive to the idea. He was a great father to his daughter and really treated my son well.
I wanted Cullen to have a sibling so he could avoid being a spoiled, self-centered only child. Plus, there’s few things better in the world than the bond between sisters and brothers. He’s so imaginative and active it would be good for him (and me) to have another child to run and gun with.
Also, I feel like I was robbed, somewhat, of the traditional experience of bringing a child in to the world. You know, the images of a man and woman lying in bed with all four of their hands touching her mountain of a belly erupting from the sheets. Days spent painting walls and assembling beds and nights filled with singing songs to that same mountain. The two peering into each others eyes as the purple oatmeal-covered being is finally placed into their arms.
Yeah, I didn’t have that.
I should’ve just fastened a pair of boxing gloves to my hands for nine months since I spent the entire time bobbing and weaving through 40 rounds of knock-down drag-out fights. It would’ve been nice to have that “picture-perfect” pregnancy experience… but I didn’t.
I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about couples choosing not to have kids, and one thing they always nail is the concept that this “family fantasy” is really nothing more than a societal norm. It’s what we’ve all been programmed to believe is the path to the end goal of “happiness.” That doesn’t make it right, and it certainly doesn’t make it right for everyone.
So is it right for me?
Some part of me desperately wants to have another baby. It’s exciting, and emotional and, honestly, indescribable. On the other hand, I find myself wondering if I should’ve had a baby at all.
I think about how free I would be to pursue all the adventures I love so much. I get a bit resentful of the fact that more and more people have “child-free” policies at barbecues and parties, not because I find their choices offensive, but because it makes it fucking difficult for me to find babysitters. (Honestly, it would be better for this “us v. them” battle between the childless and child-having to just relax a bit. Let’s just accept each other and move on). I get frustrated asking, “Is this movie appropriate to show a child?” “Will he be still and quiet to enough for that place?” “Is it wrong to go to this activity and leave a child behind?”

cartman

… except anything that an irresponsible adult would do.

Now that I’ve made so many changes in my life, my realm of desire has just exploded, too. I live a substance-free existence. I work out. I want to go back to school and get a new job. But I barely have enough time to manage all that with a 3-year-old as it is. He’s just now old enough that he can stay with grandma and grandpa much easier for longer periods of time without many problems.
Honestly, I’m enjoying the marginal freedom I have. Do I really want to start over again with a demanding, fragile newborn?
Let me sigh even harder… SIIIIIGHHHHHHHHHH.
I’m not 21 anymore. The time I have left to make mistakes and dick around is ticking away, and I still have no fucking idea what it is I want from what little I have left. On one hand, I’m a little scared and upset that I’ve been denied an option for the future against my will… That if I stay with this man I adore I will be forced to remove several other possibilities — whether they are or aren’t societal norms — from the agenda. I really don’t like being told what I can’t do. But the more I think about it, the more I understand why we get along so well: We both seem to really enjoy living in a chaotic good world.
I have no idea what I want, because I don’t spend much time thinking about it. I really spend much, if not all my time, focusing on what’s happening right now or in the immediate future (by that I mean, “What’s going on this weekend?”)
How is it possible to be such a control freak and spend your life just going with the flow? Is it possible for me to just take this love as it’s given with no consideration for where it’s going? “Planning for the future” is one of those things society tells us we “have” to do, too, but why? Why does it have to go anywhere? Because I’m almost 30? Because planning something somehow will protect me from being hurt?
My father always says, “If you fail to plan, you can plan to fail.” I really don’t think love and companionship can be set to an agenda or verified with an image of what it’s “supposed” to look like. But I also don’t want to wake up five years from now feeling like I’ve failed my heart, again. The only thing I know for sure is that I love this man. I’m honored he’s chosen me to be his partner, and I believe he wants to keep it that way because I make him happy. Shouldn’t that be enough?

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A diamond is forever, sometimes.

Sometimes, when I’m concentrating really hard, I uncontrollably rub the three rings of my left hand together repetitively, curling the pinky finger as the friction against its neighbor creates just a breath of fleshy music. It looks like an odd nervous tick. By the time I’m realizing I’m doing it, I couldn’t say whether it was only for a second or a matter of minutes. Petty sure I’ve never done it for an hour or longer, but hey, who knows?

I didn’t always have this habit; but I’m certain I will for the rest of my life. It started about four or five years ago–the day he put the first ring on that finger. When the second ring was attached in 2008, it was not uncommon to catch me twirling that piece of jewelry around my finger several times a day.

It was just so sensuous. The metal band, always warmed to the exact same temperature as your skin, was smooth and polished, Evan after the second jacket was sauntered onto the simple marquee solitaire, it fit perfectly. The jagged, diamond-lined band created the perfect contrast to the smooth underbelly. It was beautiful. It was mine.

Or it was. An asshole pawn broker bought it for far less than it was worth (gasp). He gave me a lecture and two books when I went to sell the ring after my divorce about how women were created by god to be a man’s partner. I’m sorry, his “help-meet.” Emphasis on the meat.
But knowing nothing about what happened to me personally, he informed me that the key to a good marriage is having a woman try everything she can to help her partner become the most godly man he can be. To revere and obey, as god says to. If she doesn’t, the marriage will fail.
He raised his eyebrows at me and patronizingly asked if I was suuuure I had done all I could to save the union. Did I really want to sell the ring? (Not a very good pawn broker, right?)

After telling him yeah far too many times for a business transaction, he felt the need to give me books about being a better wife and encouraged me to read them. They were brand new, and likely filled with hilarious quotes, so I took them, calling him every four-letter word I knew in my head.

Well, there was also a complete version of the bible printed as a graphic novel included, sooo yeah, I took the books. And my small bit of cash for the ring.

Needless to say, I was a tiny bit pleased when the shop went out of business. Not a good pawn broker. Maybe he’s a marriage counselor now.

Tangent aside, all I have left of that ring is the memory of how it felt on my finger, and a weird nervous habit of trying to twirl an object that is no longer there. There’s not anymore comfort. There’s no more sparkle and beauty. There’s no more perfect juxtaposition of separate bands melded together.

And every time I catch myself trying to turn the ring, I become self-aware and am overcome with sadness. I really hate being divorced.

It’s not the loneliness- the sting of seeing couples being all domestic at a restaurant or the mall. It’s not the feeling of failure. It’s certainly not the fact that I miss having the beautiful object on my hand. And I definitely don’t need a man to be happy.

I hate being divorced because I swore, literally, that I wouldn’t be. Ever.

“When I get married, it’s until death,” I said, and I meant it. (I guess not really, huh?)
It’s a commitment to be taken with the utmost seriousness. It is a sacred union between two people who are shouting to the world they are going to live their lives together…as a team.
There’s nothing wrong with not being married. It’s simply a different lifestyle with plenty of perks (no sharing a bathroom while pooping, no more watching shitty movies the other is dying to see). And in my opinion there’s nothing wrong with same-sex marriage. I generally like to think of homosexuals as people. I know. It’s radical for Oklahoma.
But if you are going to stand in front of your friends and family, profess your love and take a vow, you don’t just give up when things get tough. You’re going to want to. You’re going to forget why you married someone in the first place, but you don’t give up. Ever. It’s just the way things were with my family.

I have one brother and one sister. All three of the children in my family married their first loves, and I believe, first lovers. My ex-husband was my first, and for the eight years we were together, my only.
My brother and sister are still happily married to their first loves with beautiful children. I’m surrounded by such love. It’s beautiful.

In our house, marriage is forever. Until I changed that.

Not going into the details of my divorce, I’ll just say my spouse crossed one of two lines that were known deal breakers. He didn’t abuse me. But there’s was infidelity. Some people can work that out. I’m not one of those people. If the relationship continued, I can see myself getting angry at him, arguing and every time I want to hit below the belt I would just remind him that I wasn’t the one who couldn’t keep my pants on. I don’t know if the punishing period would ever be over, and no relationship is better than an unhealthy one.

Plus it’s the principle. He broke the most important part of the vow. If I just said “it’s okay, we can get past it” then what’s the real value of a marriage from that point? Then if it’s okay to bend the rules once or twice here or there, you wake up one day and find yourself miserable, at a swingers party. (That’s never happened to me, but I had to imagine something truly horrific)

But while I was afraid of putting him in the punishing period forever, me going through with the divorce sealed the deal for my own stigmatization.
Like it or not, people look at a 25-year-old woman, married for two years before divorcing and think “Yep. Young people these days just don’t have the same values.” It’s like a scarlet “D” was slapped on my chest for all to know my sins. My family looked at me differently and tiptoed around questions about him or my love life–sometimes still do. They don’t make me feel “bad” for my life, it’s just hard to relate to a roomful of happy couples at family functions.
I will never, as long as my brain functions somewhat properly, forget Judge Smith’s face when my lawyer and I met him in his chambers to sign the decree. I thought there would be some sort of segment for me to explain it all. I always feel the need to explain that I wanted to go to college and get my degree before marriage; that we were high-school sweethearts who were prom dates, studied for the ACT together, went to college together for two years, stayed engaged for years before the big day. We were each others first lovers and first loves. We did proceed with caution. We did value the sacred unity.
Smith just asked Mr. Rhoads a few procedural questions, signed the paperwork and shot me the most judgmental smile before saying “Well, there you go. You’re divorced now.”

That face. That half grin paired with creased eyebrows told me he was singing “another one bites the dust” in his head. That aloof attitude that this was normal behavior for all young, dumb, non-disciplined hooligans is the reason I usually check the “single” box on applications rather than “divorced.”

That damned box just allows the same judgement to be passed from reading a piece of paper. Don’t even have to shake your hand first. And they certainly don’t put a few lines under the box to explain the circumstances of your relationship status.

There’s nowhere to explain that while a person is divorced he or she may still truly revere the practice. Nowhere to explain you did take it seriously, but there was one hurdle that tripped us up and broke our legs; You cant finish a race with broken legs or broken hearts. There’s nowhere to explain that I wish I hadn’t sold my ring because it represented such of an important part of my life (and the gold would be worth waaaay more now) there’s nowhere to explain that I fucking hate the fact I’m divorced, because unlike the diamond my body still tries to swirl on my finger, i believe marriage is forever.

***Note: this blog in no fashion is intended to be interpreted as the the precursors for reconciliation. Hating the status of being divorced is not the same as wishing you were still married.

Bill Murray: Ghost of Thanksgiving Past

A friend of mine said I shouldn’t be doing laundry on Thanksgiving, but he didn’t see the pile of clothes in my garage.
I should have listened.
I groggily pulled countless pairs of black slacks and T-shirts from the dryer to make room for a not-so-fresh mound to be washed when I noticed something that didn’t belong.
There was a T-shirt with an American Apparel tag, indicating it was likely some sort of hipster, cool shirt, but it was too big for me. I thought maybe my mom had been shopping a bought something new, which made me more eager to find out what it was.
When I unfurled the shirt, I found myself face-to-face with Bill Murray. I gasped. That’s not hyperbole. I literally gasped. Kinda loudly, actually.
I realized it had been far too long since I’d done any laundry.
Yes, on the shirt Bill’s face is somewhat ghostly. It’s a white, shadow outline of Murray wearing a collared shirt on a black background. He stares pensively into the souls of those who gaze upon it, like a G.

Like a G


Bill Murray isn’t scary, right?
Right. Even as a zombie.
But this was Chris’ prized, limited edition print, Bill fucking Murray T-shirt. He wore this shirt everyday during his pre-mobilization training in Oklahoma, as I could see from the morning picture I received daily. He posted on Facebook the day it came in the mail that it was the happiest day of his life since the birth of his daughter.
Back when we were happy, I joked with him that if he died I would at least be happy to finally have a limited-edition Bill Murray shirt, to which he replied “Actually, I’m going to be buried in that shirt. You can have my old chucks.”
You get the idea. He was really crazy about Bill Murray, and the shirt.
Chris had mentioned that while he was away in Afghanistan, I could take his precious shirt and wear it at night to think of him. He might have left it on purpose, but I didn’t even know I had it.
He would likely want this back.
So, how to approach the ex? But not just any ex. The ex you loved so perfectly, unconditionally. The ex that crushed you. Contorted your insides to an angry mess. The one who wants to never see you again. The one you’ve written about for the whole world to see on the Internetz.
If Chris was already gone, I might not have even told him I had it. But he has one more weekend of leave before his actual deployment. He might want to bestow the burial shroud to another, even though we both know that nobody else will fully understand the meaning of this piece of cloth.
I sent a photo with the message, “I just pulled this from the dryer. Do you want me to leave it at your sister’s for ya?”
“Sure. If ya want. Happy turkey day.”
I paused, asking myself if a joke would be received well. Oh what the heck; The thing we always shared more than anything was good jokes.
“Naw, I think I’ll keep it, but I’ll be really thankful for it. Have a good one.”
“That’s cool.”
Seriously?
It’s cool? (See above commentary)
“No. I wouldn’t do that. I just didn’t know if you wanted me to send it somewhere or leave it at your sister’s. I’ll just mail it to you at her house.”
Even the jokes are dead.
So the question, “What do I do with this shirt?” still needs to be answered.
Another friend of mine told me “fuck a T-shirt,” and proceeded to explain how I could re-create a scene from the movie where a woman cleans her toilet with the ex’s favorite shirt. He doesn’t deserve to have it back, was the general mentality I encountered.
Dudes across the globe would likely peg the effort to return the shirt as some desperate last-ditch effort to see the ex, but I don’t think I could look him in the face again.
Was I being too nice, even considering giving it back?
Like our founding fathers, in ‘Merica, we value our property. Much of our early criminal code was created with the idea of protecting property. Too bad some of those laws also protected the rights to own people, or 3/5 of a person. But essentially, people will tolerate a lot of transgressions, but when you mess with their stuff or their children, eyebrows quickly furrow.
I’ve never believed that any woman (or man) has the right to keep an ex’s property without consent. You broke up (sad face), but neither party should also lose everything (sadder face). Not saying a Bill Murray T-shirt is Chris’ everything… but (see above commentary).
When I got divorced, I actually faced a completely opposite problem than most other women. I was left with everything. Literally. All the ex-husband took was a grandfather clock bestowed upon him by his parents, his clothes, an XBox, one of multiple cats (yeah, relocating animals is probably harder than working out child custody) and the entire collection of Predator DVDs. I was actually kindof pissed he took the DVDs.
But we had a two-bedroom apartment, fully furnished. And we were in the process of being evicted when he ran off. I had less than six days to get out of Dodge and nowhere to take all this stuff.
My parents and a good friend helped me pack it all up and condense it down to a cube of random boxes and end tables in mom and dad’s garage. Our divorce decree stated both parties inherited all the property he or she had in their possession at the time. I didn’t take it all in the cover of darkness; I wound up with it all as a hassle.
As the months went by, the ex-husband came to his senses (actually he was asking to come back after 10 days). He asked if I would return his grandmother’s keepsakes and some of her furniture, so I did. Some of the items we both wanted, we divided civilly. My father helped me return two trailer loads of furniture, which he now has at his new house.
Not all ex-wives or ex-girlfriends want to stick it to you by taking your tools, games or cars. The really bad ones just write about you on their blog.
The shirt is still hanging in my garage, as of this morning, but I’m planning to drop it off on this sister’s porch today or tomorrow. Instead of taking everything under cover of darkness, I suppose I’ll drop it off under cover of darkness.
Maybe I am too nice. But I like to think of it as invoking the Golden Rule; I know I would appreciate someone recognizing an object’s importance and returning it to me, no matter how much I maybe didn’t deserve it.
Plus I already said it wasn’t my size.
It was just a strange discovery that brought some strange questions to my mind. I realized things with Chris and I will never be what they were. Ever. No more jokes. No more “Happy Thanksgivings.” No more anything. Just ghosts of a past life that becomes more and more distorted the longer I look at it.
What really, really sucks is that I can never look at Bill Murray again without thinking of Chris. I just watched The Darjeeling Limited last night, and my theory was confirmed. Thanks Wes Anderson for making fantastic movies that will forever haunt me, considering the fact Bill fucking Murray’s face is in them all…staring back into the souls of viewers like a G.