Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Close Encounters of the Ex Kind

The heat around these parts has been as relentlessly oppressive as the Twins’ prolonged period of suckage. Sunday started out stiflingly hot once again, but by dinnertime the sky had clouded over and a light rain was sprinkling as my Ho and I sat outside on the deck behind his house, cooking brats on the grill and talking about relationships and money and other grown-up stuff.

Last Friday was a momentous day for my Ho, as he and his ex signed their final divorce papers that day. His moniker for her has officially changed from “The Soon-to-Be” to “Ex-ina.” (I think I have heard him use her actual name a total of twice.)

For those of you who are a little slow on the uptake, yes, technically my Ho and I started dating before he was 100% divorced. Believe me, I have experienced a great deal of psychic distress over that fact. By the time he and I met, I had seen so many men dive into astonishingly inappropriate relationships on the heels of their marriages breaking up (my own ex enthusiastically included), and I had been so very outspoken on the subject of “those women”--the ones the men in question had hooked up with--that the thought of becoming one of “those women” myself was intolerable to me. This guy was a walking red flag and I totally wasn’t going there.

…Except that he came highly recommended by a friend whose opinion I trust a great deal, and there was clearly no chance for reconciliation in his marriage, and then there was that whole Google thing. Apparently I needed a little more proof that God has a sense of humor, and really enjoys having the last laugh.

So, in spite of my better judgment, I went ahead and got emotionally involved. And, although I would still advise any friend against making the same choice, I have not been sorry.

Not that I haven’t had my sketchy moments. Most recently, I freaked out after finding a bottle of Nair in my Ho’s bathroom. For some reason, I could forgive the lavender-scented aromatherapy spray that had been in a basket on the back of the toilet since my first visit to his house, but that Nair bottle inexplicably sent me over the edge. I let loose with a rant about how it was totally appropriate that he still have things around the house that were hers, since he was, legally, still married, and that I knew I was going to have to find a way to deal with these items since that is part of the package when one makes the choice to date an almost-but-not-quite-divorced man, but that I was really having a hard time at that particular moment. Then I went home. On my next visit, the Nair and the aromatherapy spray had both disappeared.

My Ho is happy that it’s finally over, but, aside from the cake (“Divorce Torte.” Hyuk. Hyuk.), we haven’t been overly celebratory. Divorce is a painful process. The end of a marriage is a sad thing, even if it truly is better for all involved. So our conversation on the deck on Sunday evening was hopeful but subdued.

I was aware that “Ex-ina” would be bringing their son by to drop off something, but I assumed they’d come to the front of the house. I was tending the grill when her car pulled into the driveway behind me, and for a moment, I froze.

There I was, barbecuing on the deck of this woman’s house with this woman’s husband on a Sunday evening like I was some kind of Harriet to his Ozzie, and what the hell right did I have? I was overwhelmed by an urge to run into the house and hide.

Then I remembered that the papers have been signed and filed, ten months to the day after she made it clear exactly how she felt about both the house and the marriage by packing up and moving out.

I also remembered that I know a thing or two about how it feels the first time you come face-to-face with the fact that the person you used to be married to is happily in love with someone who isn’t you.

And I remembered that I have learned a great deal about how not to behave, thanks to the universally hated Step-Psycho.

That’s when I knew I could be cordial. I could be respectful. I could look her in the eyes and say hi. So, I turned around.

Thankfully, she never got out of the car. And the driveway is far enough away from the house that I couldn’t even see her face behind the windshield.

I hate how much she hurt my Ho, and she and I will never be friends. But at the same time, I’m sort of grateful to her, too. The consensus among those who knew them as a couple appears to be that he is better off without her. And, aside from the occasional Nair-induced breakdown, I think it’s working out pretty well for me, too. So I’ll take a raincheck on the cordial thing. Maybe next time she’ll be ready to get out of the car.

1 comment:

Amy said...

Wow. That's an incredible amount of maturity and humanity, to be able not to run in the house and hide (which is probably what I would have done--I hate confrontations, especially with people I don't like!). Good for you!