Spring is the very best time of year for our yard: the glorious crabapple and the flowering pears and the redbud tree and the giant forsythias and the lilac and the doublefile viburnum. Every one of them has a story behind how they came to be in our yard, and I remember planting them all. The lilac makes me the saddest, because Joerg knew how much I loved them and we went and bought one right away to plant in our new yard. It was my very first plant purchase at our new home together. Last year, after 13 years in our yard, I decided that it was looking a big rough so I pruned it down nearly to the ground after flowering. All summer it looked awful and ridiculous, but I knew it had to be done. This spring, as I knew it would, it has filled in with young and lovely growth into a full and symmetrical shape, even better than it was before, if a bit shorter.
I don't know if I should take this as a metaphor for starting over without the man I chose as a life partner, or as a metaphor for the difficulty of patiently waiting through the ugly years of a marriage to find the new shape of a relationship. I should probably just accept that gardening is easier than marriage, and quit trying to make every bush and plant into a Life Lesson.
Slowly, slowly, and sadly, I have accepted that he was truly unhappy with me, and for a very long time. No one walks out on a marriage with two kids for a woman who's been living with your family for less than 3 weeks. Not any one sane and reasonable, at least, and he has always been eminently sane and reasonable. After the initial hurt wore off, I began to realize that, despite her relative youth, she really should have been nothing compared to me. I am the mother of his children, and I am a fabulous mother. I was by no means the perfect wife, but even writing the words "perfect wife" squicks me out a little bit. I was supportive and flexible and a good partner; I am smart and funny and entirely OK with my own imperfections. I know my flaws, and I know the things about me that drove him crazy as well as I know the things about him that drove me crazy.
I know now that he must have been thinking of leaving for a very, very long time. And that's just the way it is. No mystery to solve or self-improvement to be gained by hearing his reasons. I am who I am, and he no longer enjoyed the comfort of knowing me.
A few days ago I ran into a woman I know who went through a horrible divorce. Her husband had serious problems, and she ended up mainly fending for herself while going through the emotional upheaval of her divorce. We would run into each other at the library, or at a school literacy night, or at a town parade, and she would update me on the increasingly awful state of affairs while our kids were off doing their kid stuff together. When I ran into her this time, she had a new man with her. She introduced him as her boyfriend, and I, with all my emotions just barely under the surface, told him, "I just love this woman. She is one of the kindest, strongest, most wonderful souls I know." I'm sure I surprised her. I bet she wondered what was in the Diet Coke I was drinking. But this new guy did not even hesitate. He put his arm around her waist and looked me right in the eye, "I love her, too. You are exactly right."
I guess it's easy to be that pitch perfect in the beginning of a relationship, but I still found the whole encounter heartening. Happiness is exactly what you hope to see in April, cruelest month or not.
There are so many things about my life right now that I find completely ridiculous. There's the fact that I feel like I need to tell all my married friends, "You realize that I would never have an affair with your husband, right?" And it's not because their husbands aren't awesome, but because the very notion gives me hives. But then I don't, because saying something like that implies that their husbands would want to have an affair with me, which also seems ridiculous. But now I feel ridiculously uncomfortable around their husbands, because I haven't actually said this and I feel like I need to, even though it would certainly count among the top 10 stupidest things I have ever said (and I have said some supremely stupid things).
There's also the fact that I'm considering going vegetarian again and dragging my kids along with me simply because I am really awful at cooking meat. Frankie can't help but opine that my steak or chicken or whatever is not as good as daddy's, and I can't help but agree, because that was his role. The Meat Guy. I'm not sure anyone has ever cited "culinary inability and emotional trauma" as the reason for going vegetarian, but hey.
There's also the damn closet door, which is still leaning on the wall. There's the bank guy, nearly laughing me out the door when I looked into a mortgage on my own. There's me, still with the schedule of a stay-at-home mom who likes to work, but suddenly without the luxury of a partner who makes that possible. And there's the chaotic press of two dogs and a kitten, which is a whole essay on ridiculousness every day.
But however ridiculous, I think I am coming to terms with this new life. I have let go of my yard, with all its Life Story Plants, and I'm making plans with the girls to fill up our new yard. Our new house will be smaller, but the girls will get to keep going to the same school with their same friends. They will still have their dad in town to see them on a regular basis, and at all their special events.
My last entry, the awful sad one I erased, was written shortly after I realized finally that his leaving had less to do with her than with his feelings about me. This one, the one I hope to keep, was written shortly after I realized that his feelings about me have less to do with me than with him.
I am bouncy, full of spring. My trajectory is not straight, but it is true.