I was desperately poor after my divorce but I did have a decent job, I had a house with all the stuff in it, and I had a truck that got good gas mileage. But I also saved myself from losing all the house and stuff because I had hired a good lawyer, and he was also kind enough to let me pay him off a little every month. Every month was an adventure, because I had already put as much money out as I could and no more was coming in.
I had my satellite cut off, and I canceled everything but electricity and dial up. It got bad enough I called in sick one day which was the day before pay day, because I didn’t have any money to buy gas. I had it pretty much planned out how much money I could spend on things like food and gas, but when something broke it had to stay broken because I couldn’t afford to fix it. Bert and Sam got their yearly check-up, but as far as going out to eat, buying coffee, or doing something odd like having a date, that was pretty much out of the question.
But there was a sense of freedom to all this; I knew, I really knew, where I stood with my finances because I was the only one spending money. I knew, really knew, what was going to happen next because I was living alone, and it was magnificent. I sat down one day, and watched an old movie, “Mars Attacks” and it was fun to just sit there and enjoy a movie without any anxiety or pressure for me to be someone I wasn’t. I spent a lot of time walking around the woods, and talking to the dogs.
It wasn’t easy at the time, but it was me. I just didn’t have any idea at all who I might still be. My marriage was a nonstop acting job where I knew what words and phrases and actions would produce favorable, or more accurately, least unfavorable results, and that was how I made it through each day. I kept thinking it things were bad enough to end they might be good enough to continue, but finally, the end of that rope was reached, and somewhere in the darkness, I knew I had to let go.
Divorce wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for lawyers. I split up with a woman I was living with and she took her stuff and left, and I kept my stuff, and we fought and haggled over mutual stuff, but in the end, it didn’t take that long because one or the other of us wanted out bad enough to leaves something or give something away to get the results we wanted. Lawyers want to drag it out and make it last as long as they can because they get paid by the hour and the day and the event. They make a living tell both sides they have to ask for more or they will get less for the money they are paying the lawyers. As long as you’re shelling out most of the cash on hand that you have you may as well get something for it, right? How it works out is the lawyers on both side get most of any cash there was, and any cash there will be, and both sides wind up alone and paying bills with pennies rolled on the dining room table listening to NPR at three in the morning.
I went on a pilgrimage of sorts after my divorce and discovered no everyone’s story was like mine. I met a couple who was dating after their divorce, which in my state of mind, they may as well have been levitating and spiting flames out of their noses while speaking Latin in a Southern accent. Aliena nobis, nostra plus aliis placen, ya’ll. They still loved each other, but they didn’t like one another to be in the same room for more than a couple of hours. A met a guy whose ex would take white shoe polish and write “Herpes” on his windshield whenever he went out to a bar at night. He swears he never had the thing, and he certainly didn’t give it to her had he been cheating on her, which he never would do anyway, he claimed. You have to admit that’s a damn efficient way to put a chill on the evening with someone you just picked up.
But my ex very effectively disappeared out of my life as soon after the event. It’s been eight years now, and I’ve come to realize that it wasn’t as bad as I remembered it being, and likely it was not nearly as bad as some I’ve seen, and it also made me wonder why on earth gay people would want the right to get into something that is more or less hell to get out of again. Legal marriage is something that is more or less an industry for divorce lawyers to make a living ending. If there is any conflict at all then both sides will be bled white, and if there are kids involved, this is going to be nasty to a degree that rivals circumcision with plastic scissors in a pool of waist deep alcohol during a hailstorm.
There is something very wrong, and broken, with marriage as an institution, and it ought to be fixed. I think we ought to have marriages that are arranged to last a year, and after that year, you can opt out or re-up. People with kids ought to have to stay married longer but since I don’t have kids I won’t go there. But we ought to make it so it’s either harder to get into or a hell of a lot easier to get out of, either one would do. But marriage, as an institution, is very, very, broken and I have no idea what to do to fix it.