it's been 7 hours and 15 days. sort of. feels like it.
I got a divorce last week.
It happened almost as quickly and easily as it was for me to type those six words. No real pretense. No obvious clues. Just the end.
Perhaps you're asking yourself, "Did one of you cheat on the other? Was it those pesky irreconcilable differences that always crop up? Did you wake up one day and ask yourself 'Is this all there is?' and decided to be foolish and look for someone more passionate and scary?"
No. None of those things. I wish there'd been some of those issues, really. I think it would've made the end easier. We could've avoided each other and stormed apart. As though it were all real. Instead, I walked out the door one night last week, glanced over my shoulder, gave a last look and met silence.
Then my work husband - now officially off the clock and officially my ex - closed and locked the door and turned his back.
I learned he was leaving when another manager approached me at the start of my shift a few weeks ago, bursting to share news with me. "Have you heard?" she asked. "He's leaving. Only has a couple of weeks left."
The smile I'd been wearing? Oh, it remained. But it tightened, along with my gut, which felt like it'd been unexpectedly punched. "Leaving," I repeated. Not so much as a question, but more as a fishing expedition. I needed to reel in the why's and when's, absorb the answers, contain my sadness, and appear to be happy for him. Smiling. Smiling. Each question was gifted with perfectly plausible answers. It's time for him to move on, my friend explained. Operate under a larger revenue arm of the business. One day, she said, he'll manage his own and he must have the tenure in.
Honestly, there were tears brewing in me, the kind that made my eyes ache with a need to escape. Absolutely foolish of me. So I bit the inside of my cheek to stop them, and I smiled. Unfortunately, my brain hadn't caught up.
"He'll HATE it there!" I practically yelled. "They won't GET him! He WON'T fit in!"
My friend agreed, though I think more out of a desire to back away from the smiling crazy lady (this is becoming a common feature, btw) whose mouth was starting to bleed than in true affirmation of what I was saying. My words, of course, really meant "Who'll I hang out with? Who's going to fully appreciate an entire conversation peppered with double entendre and smirk like we're 12? Who'll truly appear eager and interested in seeing me as I come through the door at the start of my shift, encouraging me to hurry back because he has things to tell me?"
Denial, that most delicious in the stages of grief, hit pretty fast. I walked around the rest of my shift, helping customers and talking to myself. "He's not really going to go. Nothing's been formally announced," I thought. "This is all probably just silly talk." The next evening, when a different manager said to just wait and see when someone questioned her on my work husband's rumored departure, my heart skipped, and I thought how excellent I was to be right. The three years we'd spent together were not for naught. Smiles. Smiles.
It's clear why I'd think the way I did. Truly, we were perfect for each other. We knew it almost instantly when I reached across the table and shook his hand when he interviewed me for my job, and the bond only grew from there. Our part time marriage seemed solidified when, just a couple of weeks ago, he paused and turned back toward me. "Say it..." he requested. "Say it again..."
"The Dharma and Greg Initiative," I repeated. "That's what our team name will be when we dominate next year's World Series of Pop Culture on VH1!"
("We'll be unstoppable," he laughed, lifting me up and spinning me around the biographies. "No! Not just unstoppable! We'll claim that network! We'll OWN VH1!" I cried.)
Two days later, there was a note. Not specifically to me, no. How foolish. But a note taped to the break room door, alerting us all on upcoming staff changes. Three notations down, there was my divorce papers. "Wish him luck! We're sure he'll miss us all!!" it said, highlighted in pink marker.
"'Miss us all,' I'm sure," I muttered. "Me! Miss me!"
This thought despite what was turning into acceptance.
On the last closing shift we shared, neither of us worked much until after we locked the doors. Instead, we stood around and talked. Reading from a truly awful humor book of "what if" questions, he asked, "Would you rather have breasts that tuned in radio waves so you could have an instant party wherever you were, or body hair there that morphed into different shapes every 15 minutes?" I smiled, thinking no one could ever claim that our pretend love was ever mature.
"OK, here's what I think," I replied. "Body hair there. I mean, seriously? Can you imagine how much fun getting dressed or going to the bathroom would be every day? 'Hey, come look! It's shaped like a dragon fighting a knight! No wait! It's a rabbit chasing a ball!' That's your real party right there."
There was arm punches and stupid laughing that followed. That was really how we said goodbye to each other. Oh, I'll admit, for a fleeting bit of time, I thought about following him to the other store. Continuing this. But a bit of selfishness won out in the end. That store closes an hour later! There's some priorities over pretend!
So he'll find a new work wife at the other store, if he hasn't already. These types of relationships are clearly easily replaceable. I see it quite often. Though I hate it. Hate it. I fear groveling at his feet should I have to call over there to check on a customer request, and get him on the phone. Is he happy? Does he miss me? Is she good do him? Does he remember? All the questions I'd like to ask instead of if they have a copy of whatever new Nicholas Sparks books come out.
New things dim the old, I'm told. A new manager comes in this week to take my ex's place.
But I'm clearly dimmed.