I had to laugh when I looked at the preliminary divorce papers, and found that he'd written in the 21st as the date of our marriage. We were married on the 19th ... 1983, in fact. Even my sister can remember that.
After 24 years you'd think he'd understand the cold shoulder he got every May 19th, when it was treated like just another day, but every year he wore that same, tired, deer in the headlights look.
"What'd I do, now?"
I automatically crossed out "21st" with a red pen, and added "19th!!!" and then filled in whatever else it was that I was supposed to fill in.
We'd been talking about divorce for five years. We had the single longest preliminary divorce proceedings known to man. Every time he didn't get his way over something he would threaten it, and I would say,
"Do it! Do it, and stop talking about it!"
Why didn't I do it? Well, it wasn't my thing. He was the one who was convinced it was the only answer to the problem. I suggested marriage counseling — he refused. I offered to pay — he still refused. He finally offered to pay for the divorce, and I accepted.
So there I sat at the courthouse waiting to file the final form; some bureaucratic bibbly-crud that only a lawyer could understand ... and wondered what to do with the balance of my afternoon.
I went home and stared at his shoes in the floor by the couch. I went to the window and stared at his truck. I stared at his achievement award on the wall. All his things.
I got back into my car and drove back to town. This was not going to be an anniversary that I would dread every year. I wondered if he would manage to remember this one. The 15th — not the 19th of May, the day it all started — but the 15th of June, the day it was officially over.
I pulled in impulsively at the curb on Main Street, and got out and went to the door.
"How busy are you?" I asked the young lady who sat behind the desk. She wore a name tag that read "Lydia."
"Not too ... what did you have in mind?"
"I've never done this before," I admitted.
"Don't worry, we'll take it easy on you," she said, and smiled.
She led me to a semi-darkened room and informed me to take off my top, my bra, my watch and glasses, and lie down on my belly. She left, giving me time to accomplish these instructions and time to arrange myself on the table, and then she returned.
A small fountain bubbled off to my left, and soft music played from somewhere in the ceiling.
"So," she said as she pumped scented oil into the palm of her hand, "you've never had a Swedish massage before?"
"Never." I replied and then filled her in on my afternoon activities. She listened while she worked the failure out of my neck, the disappointment out of my shoulders, the sadness out of that soft part of my back right above my heart. I lay on the table like a dead carp and thought of nothing — even when Lydia announced that she was giving me an extra fifteen minutes free ... just because.
For once in I don't know how many days, I worried about absolutely nothing, and I vowed to myself that the 15th of the month would never be something to dread. The 15th would always and forever be the day I had an appointment with Lydia. Sure, a relationship had ended, but that didn't mean a new one couldn't begin.
His shoes in the floor, his truck, his award ... his things.
My time with Lydia, treating myself to something that I really deserved all along, something he could have gifted me with on one of those forgotten anniversaries if he was half the man he had the potential to be ... was my new thing.