My neighbour behind me is about a million years old.
She’s a tiny little Macedonian lady with a bristly, grey, stubble on her chin and white hair. She wears black jumpers even on 35 degree days because she’s in mourning. She has been mourning for as long as I’ve known her and I’d hazard a guess it was a long while before that.
She’s lived in her big house on her own for however many years since her husband died and she can no longer go up the stairs because she has bad knees.
I’ve spoken with her a good handful of times over the three years I’ve lived here but never really talked about marriage, I don’t recall, but I guess maybe she’s clueier than I thought because when I bumped into her recently on her late afternoon hobble the first thing out of her mouth was –
“Is your husband coming home?”
“What?” I replied, with the look on my face that you imagine I would have.
“Your husband? He come home?”
“You here alone?”
“I’m here with my kids,” I said. “That’s definitely not alone.”
“It’s no good,” she said sadly. “You need a husband.”
And off she went, feeling very sorry for my state of affairs. Bless. If only she knew what goes on in my head. The truth is, I’m really grappling with this love business, or more specifically love after marriage.
Surely, someone somewhere wrote a guidebook about dealing with all of the mixed up shit that goes down when you end a marriage with children and you begin again?
The more I try to work it out with my head, the further away answers slip from my fingers. I know love questions are really answered with the heart, but my head has a rather convincing time of overriding the meeting room. It’s like my head sits at the head of the table (naturally) being all boss-like and shit while my heart sits quietly somewhere around the middle of the table, probably eyeing off the danishes and zoning out.
All through my dating years, I had a fairly easy gauge on relationships. It came down to one question – Are you a possible lifetime mate with whom to get married and procreate, or just a fun-time roll around?
If the answer was the latter, the not-so-lucky guy practically had a use-by date stamped on his forehead and we had some fun for a bit and then it all ended in buckets of tears and I vowed never to do it again… until the next time I felt that familiar butterfly stretching its wings in my belly when someone looks at you and you get ZING.
If the answer was maybe, then we played it out until either a) I realised I was wrong, or b) they unceremoniously dumped me at Christmas which happened a few years in a row. Not this Christmas though. This Christmas I broke a heart. A special one that helped heal mine when I was all broken into pieces.
Breaking up is really shit. The fact is, no matter which side of the breakup you’re on it’s stinky. Hearts are such tender organs and squeezing the life out them with words that penetrate the chest cavity makes for a pretty crappy few weeks/months.
My problem is that there was that one time where I thought yes, I found my forever mate, and he agreed with me so we did that crazy thing where you have a kid, then whack on a frock made out of vintage lace, and you say “I do forever” in front of all of your friends. Except it wasn’t forever. Not even close. So now I don’t know what the next relationship looks like. It ain’t simple maths any more.
Everything I thought I knew about traditional relationship trajectories is now skewed. I already got married and had kids… Now I don’t know what’s supposed to happen now because Disney has not been as progressive as to make a’ happily ever after ‘after the first ‘happily ever after’ didn’t pan out.
I love love, and I don’t love being on my own but I’m all in a flux so I’m taking some time to work it out. I’m benching myself for a bit… So I can try to figure out what those HAPPILIES look like.
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