[One of the many great submissions to the Those Emergency Blues Prize for Writing. Posted here with permission.]
Blog: Head Nurse
Crayola doesn’t make a color for your eyes, and Hallmark doesn’t make a card to fit.
Stoya asked today if I’d ever Googled my Erstwhile Hub and The Replacement. I looked at her, I’m afraid a bit quizzically.
“No,” I said, “why on earth would I do that?”
“Uh….because you’re curious?”
I sat and thought about it for a minute. No, I’m not curious. I’m not really interested at all.
Then Stoya insisted, so I Googled El Erstwhilo and TR. I found nothing at all about the woman who replaced me, and more than I wanted to know about EE. “See?” I said, “he has a huge web presence. Is that enough for you?”
I left Stoya to her Webinating and wandered downstairs for a cup of coffee and some think.
I thought about getting married, about how I wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do at the time, but what did I know? being twenty-four. I thought about the hard times, and the really, really good times, and about waking up to somebody who asked me every day for three or four years, first thing, if I was mad at him. I thought about the “you’d be so much more beautiful if…” and the “why don’t you ever come home on time?” and the stress and the family weirdness and the pressure of the house and the animals and Beloved Elsie and the grief
It was like I went through the entire marriage and its breakup, standing there at a window, looking out at the dome and the river and wondering what the hell had happened, and all at once it didn’t really matter.
Because I have friends who love me immensely. Going out with them tonight was like coming home after a long absence, even though we all just saw each other last week. Coming back to Max (who was the only thing I ever missed from my marriage) was wonderful. I have a house that’s not too big, not too small. I have a job that is different every day and gives me immense satisfaction and intellectual stimulation. I have animals that, while they might pull the shades down and shed everywhere, also snuggle up against my side every morning at about three.
This has been the best seven years of my life. The anniversary of the breakup of the most important relationship I’ve had up to date is coming up, and I could not be happier. By letting me go (or forcing me out, depending on how you look at it), El Erst gave me a life better than I ever could’ve imagined.
I may not have aged well. I have debt, in the shape of a house, and I have wrinkles and about thirty extra pounds that I didn’t have then, but look at the tradeoff: I’m not anxious, frightened, scrabbling to maintain a handhold on the most important thing in my life, when that importance wasn’t reciprocated. I’m older and stronger and have the tattoos from a thousand living and dying patients on my soul. I am so thankful that he gave me the excuse to leave; the courage I found in that has been invaluable.
A good man loves me. Another good man calls me friend. A number of excellent women of all shapes, colors, and sizes are happy to see me when I show up and miss me when I’m not there. With luck, I’ll be with the guy carrying the atoms mine were next to when the universe got its start; if not, there’s always next time.
Miss him? No. And I’m a little sad about that. It seems as though that whole shebang should deserve its own holiday. Hallmark doesn’t make a card that says, “Thank you for teaching me to be an autodidact, and thanks for fucking me over, and for going a little nuts there at the end, because everything since has been so much better than I ever could’ve imagined.”
Dr. Teeth came up at the end of my meditation in the window and said, “I hope you don’t take this wrong, but you are very, very pretty.”
I turned to him with the feeling that I was roaring like the sun, and said, “Thanks, dude.”