Jesus or Buddha or Krishna or whoever is not me, should take the wheel.
My wife and I are divorcing.
And I don’t know what else to tell you, reader.
“Things fall apart/the center cannot hold,” — that story.
I changed. I made corrections. I made mistakes. I made corrections. I changed. We changed. We made mistakes. We made corrections, and so on, and we did absolutely nothing wrong, and we did everything wrong. And it just didn’t work out. Marriages never end well. They always end in divorce or death, and frankly, I just don’t think I’m cut out for heavy undertakings with such narrow, bleak outcomes.
Oh, reader. I will be on my bullshit for a while but don’t feel too sorry for me. No one forced Sarah and I to get married. It wasn’t an arranged marriage. No one held us at gun point and forced us to sign a marriage certificate. This was a choice made by two grown ass adults.
It’s just that this was a bad time for a divorce. For me personally, what with the cancer and the pandemic and the crumbling of the American healthcare and education systems, both of which I am enmeshed.
And even if, in my gut, I saw it coming. Even if, in my heart, I felt it coming, there is no accounting for the singularly exquisite pain of this kind of thing. It’s like a breakup on steroids. It fucking sucks.
And I want you, reader, to understand something: I am talking about me , here— not the other person in this relationship, who is hurting also. No one wants their marriage to fail. No one wants this. And I will be writing about this experience as I write about all my experiences: candidly, ethically, thoughtfully, constantly, unendingly, tediously, tirelessly, myopically, always.
I loved my wife. I wish her prosperity and love and whatever it is that brings her happiness.
And if you’re some creepy reader, sniffing around for bleak details of my marriage, or for gossip, or for pettiness, you’re watching the wrong show. You’re on the wrong blog. You’ve got the wrong person.
The social worker I spoke with today told me that cancer patients experience divorce at a higher rate than the general public. I was both dismayed and comforted to hear this.
I settled in Flagstaff. I was open to settling in Tucson. The universe had other plans and when everything goes to hell, I go back to Chicago.
And some people may think, and have openly thought, “Whoa, Gruber. Slow down. Take a minute.”
And you know what, reader? I understand and appreciate this concern.
Rash decisions are not always the best decisions.
I also understand I have a life-threatening medical condition.
And I miss my nieces whose own eyes I have not seen with my own eyes in almost four years. And I miss my sister, who used to send me text messages like this when text messages looked like this:
And I miss my friends. And maybe I’ll stay a short while in Chicago and then be well enough — in body and mind — to go elsewhere, if I desire. Or not. Who the fuck knows? And I am going sooner, not later because while a great job with great people is a very wonderful thing, I need something else in my life now: I need rest, and care, and to put my own needs first. Not second. Not third. Not first-ish, but first. It’s life or death. Always has been. True fact. Always has been life or death for you, too, reader.
I also understand that I have nothing to lose and nothing to prove anymore. I have no desire for money or material things (I mean, beyond the “ordinary” shit we Americans can’t stop buying). I just want mercy and a little grace. That’s all. And I’ve got nothing at all but my life. Some flannel shirts. A dog. What more do I need? What need I fear now?
As Janis put it, “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” I got nothin, universe. Nothing left to lose.
I’m free, so why am I weeping?
Because freedom, especially in this life,
always seems to come at some ghastly cost.
Abe and I are staying with friends for now.
We are in a cozy guest bedroom.
Abe is already asleep under the covers beside me.
I’m struggling with some bad insomnia this week. I always have insomnia but this is like 100 proof insomnia. (I may still think in alcohol metaphors, but I still am a non-drinker.) In my next life, I wish to come back as a dog because no dog I’ve ever known “struggles with insomnia.” What a stupid, foolish thing to struggle with. And yet, as I’ve said many times on this blog, human beings are stupid. And I’m a human being, ergo . . .
I told my host last night that Abe is a reincarnation of my last dog, Bernie, and I am only 85% joking about my belief in that.
Seriously, this dog was born almost to the day of the same month and year Bernie died and he is like a kinder, dumber (but in a cute, endearing way) version of Bernie. Bernie came into my life just as I was dealing with my first “round” of cancer, and Abe came into my life just as I began my second (and fairly sure to be final) “round” with cancer.
I try to meditate, but mostly fail and end up holding my beads and crying. This is okay, too. I am trying. I am not drinking, and I am reaching out to my healthcare professionals for help with sleep and anxiety. And I’m going to have that CT scan tomorrow after work even though having to do this, this very week, feels cosmically sadistic.
And I’m letting it all go.
Everything except my life. (Wasn’t that a line in Hamlet? Always had a love/hate relationship with that play.)
And I’m surrendering “absolutely” because I ain’t got no more fight left in me right now.
I am old enough to know my limits, and feast your eyes upon them reader, for here are my limits: stage iv cancer, dead dog, dead relatives, dead friends, pandemic, the erosion of a profession I once loved madly, and divorce all within the short span of 2 years. There is the sum total of my “limit.” I need Jesus or Buddha or Moses or Mohammed or Krishna to take the wheel at this point in my life’s “journey” (my brain always gags when I ask it to use that word in this way).
And some people will gasp in Puritanical horror that I am airing such a “private” detail about my life, but you know what? This is a blog where I regularly write about breast cancer and being a recovering drunk and removal of body parts and why wouldn’t I write about getting a divorce? What is this? The 1950s? Half you motherfuckers been divorced multiple times over, so spare me the shock. Unclutch (?) thee pearls. Grow up.
The other day, I remembered a little “functional” Spanish while attempting a conversation en español. (I am trying to learn the language by, in part, braiding a little into my everyday life.)
“Contigo” was the word I remembered after a moment of searching.
“With you” = “contigo.”
Si estoy contigo, estaré bien.
(True fact: I had help with that last bit.)
Frankly, I want a fucking do-over on this life, but with all the knowledge I have gained in my 45 years on this miserable planet.
This beautiful planet.
This fragile, peculiar, astonishing, infuriating planet.
This stupid life. This maddening life. This fantastic life.
And yet I totally don’t want a do-over at all because my life has been, and still is, wonderful. And my life has been, and still is, quite enough. Just the once through this life is gonna be good for me. I say that with confidence from beneath the tidal wave. Also, the early aughts, for me were particularly no bueno. Wouldn’t want to do that again with any amount of knowledge.
If reincarnation is a thing, I would like to come back as a bird of prey or a beloved family dog, but not an insomniac dog and not a pigeon though I do feel pigeons get way more hate than they deserve.
In the time it took me to rattle this off, half a dozen people contacted me by phone to make sure I was “okay.”
How lucky I am to be so loved.
And that’s what we mourn when a relationship ends: “the end of love.”
But it’s important to remember life is not comprised of one love.
Love is cellular, atomic, everywhere.
Unless you’re a total hermit (sorry?), even when one love ends, not all love has ended. Not even close. As if one relationship could ever be that powerful. This is not possible. Love is truth and beauty. Love is God. It’s not one person, one dogma, one formation. It’s everywhere and nowhere. (And yes, I shall be bringing my southwest flavored hippie gospel to the people of the American Midwest.)
(And yeah, maybe I’m starting a cult.)
(And I’m totally kidding. I have absolutely no time whatsoever to start a cult. Check back with me in, say, July.)
I am forever insisting that my young creative writers get real comfortable with writing the sensory. What does it look like? Feel like? Sound like? Taste like? They get annoyed with these questions over time. “Gruber, I don’t know what ‘ambiguity tastes like’, okay?!”
And I try to run my senses over the feelings I have right now. Writer I may be, metaphors fail this pain.
Tidal wave, I suppose.
A tidal wave full of saltwater and broken glass and old, rusty bullets.
And fire. Let’s not forget fire.
When I went to visit Betsy in Cali, we went boogie boarding. I have always had a love/hate relationship with the feeling of a wave overpowering me. I love the reminder that there are many things on this earth more powerful than me, and I also am terrified of drowning.
I will not drown.
I will be okay, for I am a scrappy hooligan, and I always seem to find a way. Plus which I know all the best people (biased, and totally true) and they will shepherd me through this. I know.
But damn, reader.
I mean God damn.
To quote my late, beloved Uncle Al, “Yeah, well, this is gettin’ real fuckin’ ridiculous right about now.”
In an effort to sleep, so I can work tomorrow, I should wrap this one up.
I just wanted to write because maybe, reader, you’ll send me some strength and love or at least a funny meme from wherever you are.
And from my little space in a friend’s home tonight, with the dog beside me, waiting for the Ambien to kick in and do its job, I’m watching old music videos. I love Tina Turner’s version of this song. And so I leave you, loving you, and you, and even (maybe especially) you with this:
Think good thoughts for me, hooligans.
And be good.