Biographical Non-Fiction posted November 16, 2014 Chapters:  ...32 33 -34- 35... 


Exceptional
This work has reached the exceptional level
A scorned woman needs a warning label.

A chapter in the book My Almost Cashmere Life

Side Effects

by maggieadams

After deciding to end my marriage, I should have had a warning label stamped on my forehead because the early stage of divorce reads much like the side effects of a Cialis commercial.

Filing for divorce gives you the chance to hurry up and wait...divorce may cause outbursts of anger, crying jags and crazy, irrational thoughts. When contemplating divorce, be sure to not drink alcohol in excess for erractic behavior like cutting your ex out of all the family photos and throwing his dirty underwear on the porch of his long-term mistress might ensue. Other symptoms may include self-pity, self-absorption and self-destruction. If any of these behaviors lasts more than four hours, get out of the bathtub and call a friend right away. 'Hell,' call a gaggle of girls because this requires immediate attention.
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The rows of pink and red camellias were bursting from their buds as Alan turned up our lane. On the long drive home from the beach, I continued to rant and rave----ugly accusations, deserved, but ugly.  He, on the other hand, implored me not to do anything rash. "Maggie, just leave a few bags of clothes in the courtyard for me to pick-up after work. I'll be at the Hilton. Please, don't do anything crazy."

I slammed the passenger door, "Have a nice life."

Hilton, my ass, and a few bags of clothes. How about thirty years worth of memories all stuffed into plastic bags?

I walked down the brick pathway, leading to the front door. When I opened it a crack, Spanky nudged his big head through and greeted me with a wet slurp. Not far behind, his sidekick, Verdel, joined us in a love fest. "Come on boys, we have work to do."

I now believe in the stories where adrenaline can propel a mother to lift up a car to save her baby...or rush into a burning house...or bag up thirty years of clothes...

Flinging open the mirrored sliders, I started to purge him from my life. In went the laundered shirts, the Ralph Lauren light wool suits, the slippery silk ties, the knit ties, the Scottish wool ties (he wore them for his closing arguments...thought they made him look sincere!). In went his tennis attire, his golf shirts, his bike pants, his rain gear, and all his Joseph A. Banks cashmere sweaters. I carried at least fifty bags to the courtyard within thirty minutes. After awhile, I quit bagging, and much like a jilted lover in a romance movie, I just started throwing his shoes and underwear into the courtyard.

The dogs thought it was great fun, nosing around all the bags, but then my daughter pulled up, and my adrenaline plunged. "Mom, what the hell is this? You're not getting a divorce tomorrow, are you? This is Dad's house, too. It looks so trashy...and...and you guys seem so immature...I don't know how to handle this." She ran crying into her bedroom...nearly broke my heart.

I needed to calm down and have some semblance of sanity for my daughter's sake, but I wanted to act immaturely, I wanted to vent and I needed to purge the house of everything Alan.  Paxton had witnessed our separation a year before, and she knew her dad had "made his own bed"; however, she had been led to believe that we were a family again, and Lola was in the past.  She was angry and sad and confused.  She was thrust into a role she had never bargained for: my protector. 

It was the worst of times, but in some ways, it was the best of times.

My two daughters were young adults when Alan and I divorced. Many books are written about how divorce affects younger children, but not nearly as much attention is paid to adult children of divorce. They are expected to understand, to "suck" it up because they are adults. In my experience and after doing much research, I have discovered that adult children are more adversely affected than younger children for a myriad of reasons. First and foremost, they have had their two parents together as a family through all their formative years. They have had stability, and then the rug is pulled out from them just as they are embarking on their adult journeys. Secondly, the expectations placed on them are overwhelming. Overnight, their world is turned upside down and their loyalties are tested. Divorce is the defining event of most children's lives, affecting their decisions, attitudes, and even happiness for the rest of their lives.
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'I was leashing the dogs for a walk into town to pick up my car, when Paxton came out of her room.  "Mom, can I walk with you?  We can talk.  Besides, I don't want to be here when Dad picks up his stuff." 

That evening he called. "Well, I guess you've made up your mind. Please don't run out tomorrow and file for divorce. Please, if you want, I could come home and we could talk about it. I think I could get over Lola."

"God, Alan, you sound like a stuck record. No, no and no. Why can't you just let me go with some dignity? Why? This is really maddening. What is it? Really, you are pathetic. I don't want to be married, so what am I supposed to do...live in limbo?"

"Uh, please don't file for divorce. I, I, well, I've been financially irresponsible. Filing for divorce will hurt you too; there will be major consequences."

I slammed the phone into its holder.

For the next month, I purged. I opened every closet, cleaning out the wounds and bearing witness to things exactly as they were, including my own part in the pain. Uncluttering our house helped cut a path to my deeper self.

What were the heavy things that kept getting in the way? My past? His past? Or just the truth about life? It is messy and complicated. The realistic answer is that the past, present and future all lie together in a huge heap, one affects the other.

My past, his past, they were all there in the closets and like Pandora's box, scraps of memory came tumbling out---the brown grocery sacks stuffed with hospital bills and insurance benefit sheets... she was a million dollar baby...the heartbeat tape, the ultrasound picture sent lovingly to me by Laurel's biological mom.  Thirteen miscarriages.  Did that day so many years ago, that day my son was conceived, have something to do with my inability to carry a baby?  Was I being punished?  No matter the answer, Laurel and Polly exist, and that is all that matters.  Not how or why.

I moved on to the next closet where I came upon my school and college yearbooks, my scrapbooks full of yellowed-newsprint and blue ribbons.  There was one white ribbon prominently displayed on the fraying pages.  I remember it well.  Fourth place out of thirty-two contestants in the district track meet as a freshman with no training and no encouragement.  Just sheer guts. 

I opened to the signing pages of my high school freshman yearbook... I found it ...it was a message, a love letter of sorts, from my boyfriend, my forbidden love.  He was a Nez Perze Indian, gorgeous and athletic...a senior.  We snuck around.  Did goofy things and fantasized about being together.  Prom, he didn't want to go with anyone else, so he didn't; instead, he came to my bedroom window, and we kissed through the screen.  He went away to an Indian college in Kansas.  I mourned but moved on.   My senior year, he came back to the reservation.  I saw him one last time.  Alcohol and automobiles...he was killed trying to flag down a car.  My dad wondered why I cried.

I found love letters...I had forgotten about Lieutenant Colonel Patrick O'Neil...my West Berlin fling.  I blushed as I read his romantic words...leaving my college tour for a week to stay with a U.S. commissioned officer... we met in a beer 'haus' on the west side of the Wall...his brown eyes...his motorcycle...guess I wasn't such a 'cold fish' after all...

His memory books...his childhood pictures... a towhead...I found more brown sacks filled to the brim with losing lottery tickets, losing sports tickets.  Why on Earth would he save these?  Never dawned on me at the time...but now, I am guessing tax write-offs... doesn't matter...

Seven years ago, I was a survivor in transition, elevating the pain of the past, unable to let go.  Today, I own the past, the present and the future, and I have endured to tell my story...
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During the purge, I piled-up his belongings, his memories, his half of the estate, tossing in the family portraits.  I topped the heap off with the black cement horse's head. 

A month later, I filed for divorce.

    

 













 


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