This morning I am awake again in the fours, something I’ve grown used to this summer. Coming apart for me seems to require many hours of wakefulness in the middle of the night and early morning. Sadly, this is a pattern I remember.
Richard and I parted ways three weeks ago today. I haven’t wanted to write about it, feeling it is too private for the blog, hoping not to write a story that would not be true. We’ve come apart before, but this feels different. Two of my closest women friends agree.
This time around I’m not going to be the one to make it better. I don’t know how.
I don’t understand love, don’t really understand it at all. You would think at nearly fifty that I might. I feel it. I love it. I just don’t know how to hold it together with a man lifelong. That would be a fine thing. It’s too late for a chance to be with someone who’s known me all my adult life. Maybe it’s not too late to be with someone who’d like to take me to the grave, a strange thing to wish for maybe, but I do, for that person who can imagine being by my side as I pass out of this world, who would want me to do the same for him, who feels as sure as anyone can this is what he’d like to do.
It’s strange for me for there to be so much kindness in the parting, but it’s there. We are e-mailing a bit. We talked last night, not about how to reunite, but a little about the day, about the kids, about the people we each know and have seen or spoken to or wonder about and love. That shared life has to break apart, and it is. Week by week the bond gets weaker; I know less of his life, he knows less of mine; the unravelling of our shared life has begun, as has the re-knitting of our separate lives.
This week Richard is in New York and Connecticut, with many of the most important people in his life. Today is his birthday. He’ll celebrate with his brothers and some of his oldest friends. I’ll be here, not baking the gluten free chocolate cake with raspberry sauce I’ve made the last three years to honor the man I’ve loved in all his chocolate loving gluten free glory. Instead I’ll drive my daughter to the T so she can spend the day at her newly beloved Mass Art Summer Intensives, studying drawing and fashion, then maybe I’ll do yoga and if my son is up for it and the parking lot isn’t too full, we’ll go for a swim at Walden Pond this afternoon. After that I’ll have dinner with both kids if nothing surprising comes up for either one, then maybe I’ll read on the couch or we’ll watch something together on tv, and after that, night after night, I’ll go to bed alone.
Life will go on like this, parting ways. We’ll do separate vacations, one this weekend for me and two of my kids with old friends at Woodman Hill in Western Mass, one for him this week with friends and brothers in New York and his daughter and son-in-law and his family at the Connecticut shore, all places we’ve been together. This week we repaired our separate houses, major porch work for mine, minor porch work for his. Funny the outside of our houses is where the work needs doing.
The same is true in some ways for us. The outside forces have been wearing. The back and forth, life in two places, trying to meld lives in two different life stages has taken it’s toll. Neither one of us is ready to move to be with the other. Richard doesn’t want to live in Somerville or to live my middle aged life here with me. I can’t imagine moving my kids and work to Northampton or living a more leisurely life with Richard for awhile. Being apart is too hard for me, the ups and downs of life as we’ve known it are too hard for him. We are both tired of missing our homes and loved ones when we’re away and need the grounding living life in one place provides.
So, this round we part as amicably as we can. He walks and putters, run errands and goes to appointments, visits friends and family, swims, watches tv, goes to movies, travels. I do yoga, read, write, work, spend time with my kids, my mom and sister and my nephew, a few friends, the Quakers, yard sale, cook, clean, swim. We begin to make plans that don’t involve the other. This week I’ll reserve a campsite in Maine for one of my vacation weeks in August. I expect soon he’ll begin to travel more and spend more of his time visiting with friends and kids, maybe take on some new project, as other retirees might do. Someday I expect we will begin to see other people. Life will move on. There is no need to separate our belongings, as we shared none. There is no need to strip our houses of evidence of the other, as there is so little in either one. For three years we said to one another, I should put a picture of you on the fridge. We never did.
This is my first attempt to share the news with the wider world. When people asked about Richard after Quaker Meeting yesterday I couldn’t speak. So, you’re a flasher, a member of my writing group said to me about my blog. No, the writing teacher said. I don’t know. In writing here I tell myself I’m opening myself up so that others may see themselves, or some part of me that feels familiar, and in so doing feel less alone. I suppose my hope is I will feel less alone as well, and that in telling some of the harder parts of my story, I’ll give those parts a shape I can live with and better understand. So far, so good, on that end, I think. Wish me luck, in love, in writing, in truth telling as best I can.