As the front door closed behind him, I turned and looked around the room … tables and lamps were cluttered in the corner, pillows were haphazardly tossed on the couch, a stack of books was leaning precariously against the wall. I walked into the bedroom and gazed at the unmade bed, the littered dresser, the scattered boxes. A few more steps and I saw the array of toiletries strewn across the bathroom counter, a hand towel carelessly hung on the rack.
Slowly I wandered back to the living room, then stopped. For several minutes I just stared at the closed front door. Then slowly, but deliberately, I eased myself into a nearby rocking chair.
It had all started about a year before. No, that’s not really accurate. It had started farther back than that, but the actual thought that had grown into action had crystallized some 12 to 18 months ago.
We were young when we got married. Me shamefully pregnant, him shaky and uncertain, and both of us scared silly because the divorce ending his first, but very brief, marriage wasn’t yet final. But he wanted to “do the right thing,” so we headed to Mexico one cloudy February afternoon. He had an uncle who lived in San Diego and we stayed the night with him. Early the next morning he drove us over the border into Tijuana.
After stopping at several dirty storefronts, his uncle seemed to locate what he was looking for and he motioned for us to follow him. We were soon standing like two terrified children in front of an old Mexican man who was wearing an ill-fitting suit with a spot on his tie. He greeted us in broken English and beamed approvingly as he said, “Ahhh, you een love. You marry. Bueno!” He pulled a small frayed book out of his coat pocket, opened it, and rapidly rattled off some words in his native tongue. Then he gave us a yellowed grin, waved his arms at us and said, “Kees the bride now. Si, kees the bride.”
It was over in minutes.
Was I in love? I thought I was. And for the next 15 years, I held onto that thought. But sometime during those years, things began to change. The urgency to make love became less and less, the bonding between us began to weaken, and our paths began to go in different directions. By the 16th year, my hold on the thought had become exceedingly fragile. Other ideas, plans, dreams were pushing and shoving to take its place.
Then one day, I realized it was gone.
Over the next year, I spent a lot of time considering what to do. Even without love there is a certain comfort in being married, especially when you have been together for a long time. You get used to the warm body in bed at night, the familiar face across the dinner table, even the dirty socks and wet towels on the floor. But finally, after many months of soul-searching, I knew the decision I had to make.
The break-up was uneventful. I think we both knew it was coming so we spent little time discussing options. Soon, the hour came for the physical separation. I had found a small apartment and he helped me move. An awkward plan perhaps, but practical.
As we set down the last few boxes and small articles, I thanked him for his help. We searched each other’s face and a whisper of familiarity passed between us. As if in silent agreement, we moved towards each other for one final hug. Then he released me, quickly turned and walked out the door.
A short time later as I sat in the rocking chair, a frightening, yet pleasant, emotion washed over me. It made my heart contract and brought a chill to my body. It only lasted an instant, but it was a feeling I had never experienced before and have not felt since. I knew right away that something remarkable had taken place.
I looked again at the closed door, but this time I knew that one day very soon it would open … and I would be ready to walk through it.
Another “oldie” with a few minor tweaks to bring it up-to-date. 🙂