Thursday, October 1, 2009

Moving On Up and Out and Beyond

A few months after my ex wife and I were married (over 20 years ago) I reached a point where I knew we had to move. We had lived together in a decently sized one bedroom apartment on west 57th Street in Manhattan. It had been her place for several years. As I said it was decently sized and centrally located, but it had no kitchen to speak of. This was fine enough, I had figured out ways to adapt to the size. But the place got no sunlight at all due to the construction of a high rise luxury building that not only blocked the view of Central Park, but blocked even the ability to know the weather in any way shape or form. And it afforded a fantastic view for the construction workers to ogle my bride as suited them.

The apartment also had some pretty bad memories for her, though we had managed to exorcise them to a small degree. But now I had reached my breaking point. I came home from work and looked at the darkness and just couldn't take it anymore. So we started looking. Eventually we ended up in Queens. A larger apartment for less money and sunlight all day long. I was excited. My wife was less than thrilled. She hated moving, and still does, more on that in a minute.

I viewed that apartment as a new start to a new marriage and a new life. In fact, it contained the seeds to the disintegration of that marriage and a wayward life that I am still working through. The apartment had other problems, bad wiring, careless landlords, crappy heating...I was so in love with all the light that I forgot to ask the important questions and so utterly certain of our future, I unwittingly muscled my wife into the place.

When the marriage ended only 3 years later, our daughter was two. I moved out of the apartment that I still rather liked despite its issues. My ex wife stayed in the apartment that she never learned to like at all. But she remained, so utterly fearful and dreadful of moving again.

Fast Forward to today. My ex and her fiancee have moved into a new apartment, fully as of yesterday. Two days ago I spent my last moments in the old apartment, picking up a kitchen table that my stepfather had built and a few odds and ends. It was strange to see the place almost empty, almost as empty as it was when I first started to paint the entire place almost entirely on my own to ease the transition for my then wife. The bookcases I had built were gone, leaving a wall I hadn't seen since Bush Sr. was president.

I hadn't lived in that place for 17 years but I was there all the time nonetheless for time with my daughter. Also early on there were many nights over several years of vain attempts to reconcile the marriage. And then after a time, a friendship between my ex and I. The place had seen a lot of change. It is the only place my daughter has ever lived (and believe me she is not at all happy about this move taking place. She has had her goodbye but has not been part of the process since she's at school now).

I didn't have a lot of time to say goodbye, but I took a few moments. It was in those moments that I remembered all that that apartment had symbolized to me at first, what it came to symbolize later. I thought of the young husband and father, hopeful, arrogant, certain.

I stood there a still young though not terribly young ex husband and father. Not particularly hopeful, less arrogant and a lot less certain about anything.

I was and am glad to see the place go though and I am happy for my ex wife,who has used the move well to purge a great many things and start a new life for herself.

Ironically she feels as muscled into the move as she felt 22 years ago, and I've ended up being an ear when she has wanted to strangle her fiancee. It feels funny to be the ex-husband helping the ex-wife to work through it all so that the relationship she is in won't go the course that ours did. I kind of like it. The fiancee isn't thrilled about it, since understandably he doesn't want his wife bitching about him to her ex husband. I get that. But my ex told me something she said to him when they were going over her feelings about the move and the process and he kept saying “I'm not John” when she pointed out the many similar ways that I had done. Then complained that she was talking to me about it. Her response was “If I had had a friend like John when I was married to John, I'd probably still be married to John. So stop worrying about it”

I don't know that there's a lot of truth in what she said. Hindsight has shown me that my ex and I were probably not suited for marriage to each other. But it was a damned fine compliment.

The picture at the top is the old Queens apartment building. The top floor to the right are what had been at one time the Master Bedroom and later my daughter's room. This is the last picture taken of the place by me. I imagine only a strange twist of fate will lead to anymore.

Anyway, another marker in life, another milestone passed. When I visit my daughter or my ex for whatever reason, I will no longer have a history there. That's a good thing. I'm trying to purge too. Hell, sometimes I think about selling everything and living out of a trailer, not unlike Derek Shepherd's on Gray's Anatomy. (I wanted to put a picture of that trailer right here. But it doesn't seem to exist anywhere on the internet.)

Since my own move a few months ago I've been shedding and continue to shed. Shed Shed Shed. Its all about moving on, even if we have no idea what or where we are moving to. Figuratively at least.


By the Seat said...

Beautifully written. I'm a huge fan of shedding the past in order to move forward. Luck to you all.

Nel said...

Here is to moving on! And to you and your ex-wife having an amicable split.

Laurie said...

Powerful blog!