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Jun '09

Diary of a Divorcee Part III

It is Saturday evening, the sun is going down on what was a very hot, breezy day on the Third Coast, and I – Ta Da – processed all four Memory boxes. Whittled four to one and recycled two boxes. The small rectangular box replaced the old bible box that held my teenage and early twenties love letters; more on those later. No tears, some sadness, and many slips of paper put aside for later. It was overwhelming and the project took the better part of the day, but it is done, it is done, it is done.

I began randomly and it turned out to be a middle-of-the-relationship Memory box. I had forgotten how many cards and notes husband number three had written through the years. Reading these loving missives I continued to ponder why our marriage ended. I mean, I know why it ended, but how did we get from those love notes to here? I, by choice, have not spoken with him since I hung up on him when he called at work, pre-lay off, to inquire about some recipes he wanted. What he really wanted was the 2008 tax information on the house we were forced to Short Sale because he wanted the divorce. Another live and learn story, but it is the boxes that have clogged my energy this past week, and considering those boxes held fifteen years of my life, no wonder I was hesitant.

Continue reading "Diary of a Divorcee Part III" »

Jun '09

Diary of a Divorcee Part II

Since the move to The Flat, and especially since the lay off, I have spent numerous hours going though boxes and paring things down to “my” stuff. I have never been a pack rat and since I have moved like a gypsy my entire life opportunities to cull the stuff come every few years, it seems. My biggest weaknesses are letters, cards, notes, birth and death announcements and photographs. I am embarrassed to admit, it was only six months ago that I tossed 99% of the wedding photographs from marriage number two from 1986. (We divorced in 1989.)  No need for this baggage anymore. Sure, a few of them–geez, I look so young, and my Dad looks so alive and healthy, even though he wasn’t. I will not ever forget that marriage or the day of the wedding—thunder, lightening, rain and flooding—so I do not need all these photographs, period. They’re gone.

Another one of my weaknesses, which formed during my courtship with husband number three, was Memory boxes. It really started causally enough with these beautiful boxes that came my way and were the perfect size to hold mementos of special occasions. Well . . . . . these boxes are staring at me right now, a little road weary, not so new looking anymore, and I keep finding other things to occupy my afternoon. I am not sure what I am afraid I will find in these beautiful floral boxes, four in all, but I am resisting to the point that I am considering cleaning the bathroom.Memory Boxes 1993-2008. Photo by Carol Kiphart 2009
They are just memories. Fifteen years of memories, to be exact. I do not need boxes full of ticket stubs, Playbills, wedding invitations, a menu from Thanksgiving dinner twelve years ago, or postcards of past travels to remember my last marriage. So I sit here and contemplate the worst that can come from me opening the first box. I may get a little melancholy. I may cry, hell, I may laugh. All of this is okay. If I can survive the death of husband number one and give birth to his child one month later without benefit of his coaching, I should be able to survive these four little boxes. Shouldn’t I?

Perhaps I am afraid of his power over me again, perhaps it will be a reminder that maybe I did not try hard enough to save the marriage, but perhaps it will be cathartic. More baggage out makes room for new mementos, new Playbills to collect, and four empty boxes to fill, or, like many of my recent purges, the boxes will find their way to the recycling bin.  I know when it is all said and done, I will feel lighter. A little less burdened by my past mistakes. If I make lunch now, I can put this off for at least another hour, and it’s the weekend. Maybe I will have a short glass of wine with my lunch. 🙂

To be continued . . . . . . . . .

Jun '09

Diary of a Divorcee

Until April 2008, I had never lived alone. From family to marriage to motherhood, widowed at nineteen one month before motherhood, married again at thirty, divorced at thirty-three, married again at forty-four, and divorced (again!) at fifty-two. I have had so many last name changes it makes me dizzy.

When living arrangements with my soon to be ex-husband became unbearable last Spring, I set out to find my sanctuary–finding a clean, affordable rental, in a good neighborhood, with a landlord willing to trust me that Remy’s long taloned nails would not ruin his hardwood floors, in Corpus Christi–is a feat requiring patience, a willingness to step outside your comfort zone, interrupting neighbors during their yard work, even negotiating a rental price, is how I came about finding The Flat. It also involved several girlfriends, a bottle of gin and some fresh-off-the-tree grapefruit.

The Flat before the move. Photo by Carol Kiphart 2008

The Flat before the move. Photo by Carol Kiphart 2008

In the beginning, it was all about creating a space that was welcoming to my family and friends, but also a place where I could rediscover my self. Something that always gets lost when I am in a long term relationship. It becomes all about them and I lose my confidence swagger. My self esteem just flies right out the window.

Within a month of moving in, I found myself eating cereal for dinner or a PB&J and a piece of fruit. I could do anything I wanted, eat anything I wanted, watch any program on television, go to bed when I wanted to go to bed, shop for the type of food that I wanted to eat, lay on the bed in the middle of the afternoon and day dream. Snore, fart, and let the dishes sit overnight (gasp!), walk around naked without fear it would be taken as a bid for sex. It has all been a learning process. Getting his voice out of my head and finding my voice. Sure, I made a few early missteps, but what woman, on her own for the first time in her life, can avoid making a few mistakes?

The Flat after move.

The Flat after the move. Photo by Carol Kiphart 2009

Just as I thought I was finally settling into single life, and not feeling like I needed a man in my life, I was laid off from my job, which set off an entire new blast of anger towards my ex for moving me to Corpus Christi in the first place, thus the term “. . . from the Edge of the Universe“. I did not deal with the lay off well. Although the grapevine would have you believe I took the news very well, in truth, that night, which happened to be of all days Friday the 13th, and a week after my fifty-third birthday, I contemplated suicide. I had the pills in one hand, and, thank Goddess, my cell phone in the other. I called Chana, a friend in San Antonio, and she stayed on the phone with me most of the night. The next morning I was covered in used Kleenex, my face was puffy and swollen from crying, but I was alive and the sun was shining in my bedroom window and Remy needed to be walked and fed. Life had to go on and I had a choice to get on the train or jump under it. As hard as these last four months have been, I am so glad I chose to get on the life train. One of the things I know for sure – life always seems a bit brighter come morning.

Now, I must learn to survive this challenge, which opens up an entire new can of worms, and puts my purchase of curtain rods and drapes on hold for now. I am still in the hopeful stage and have trimmed down my cost of living significantly. I am very grateful for The Flat, a place to take a shower whenever I want, to hold my few treasures and possessions, because I realize there are women just like me across America who do not have this basic desire–a sanctuary from a world in crisis.

In what should be a very exciting time in my life, an opportunity to explore all aspects of who I am and what I want my humanitarian contribution to be, I must spend each day contemplating and pursuing a job which will provide me with the financial stability I need to live a modest lifestyle. It is a scary time, financially, to live alone. There is no backup plan. Not yet, anyway. Forever an optimist, at the end of the day, I am fortunate that Remy DuBois, the debatable darling dawg daughter, is my constant companion. She reminds me of the simple turns of daily life – sleeping, dreaming, eating, walking, pooping, peeing, and when on those rare occasions off leash, running with wild abandon.