A strange thing about being divorced is that lots of people like to talk to you about what it's like being divorced. I mean, is it doable? Can you really split up and survive in New York? Right now, nine friends are involved in marriages that are either ending or teetering. And it blows my mind.
I don't have a problem with people asking for advice, since I got tons of it from people who were where I am now. When the floor falls out from under you, you need to know it's OK to live in the basement for a while. And it feels good to pay some of that forward. But nine? Is the floor that weak? And are we able to gauge its weakness only after we've fallen through?
I feel like a hothouse orchid for saying this, but I really had no idea. I grew up around intact families and TV shows about intact families. It all seemed so effortlessly permanent. You got married, and that was it. My parents are still together, for better or for worse, and I was the oldest kid who did everything to please them. I did the work, got the grades, and stayed out of trouble. All so my little brother could distance himself from me and become the cool one. The self-taught musician who has spent his life coloring outside the lines. He's also taller, and better looking, and he still has a full head of hair, the little punk.
And you know why I can call him a little punk before a worldwide webience? He's also too cool to read blogs.
When people ask my advice, that's fine. But when they say I make divorce "look easy," I feel my esophagus cramp. Some days are fine, and some are rottenhard; the only reason it might look otherwise is that I don't write about the rottenhardness. The ways to make divorced parenthood as bearable as possible are pretty simple: Pick your battles, always think about the kids, and have faith that soon a less fecal day will dawn.
You should also be prepared for how it will change you as a person. Like the other day, when I was trying to park the car downtown, on the way to meet a friend who wants to divorce his wife as soon as he gets a job. I circled forever until I found a perfect spot--except for the ripped-up cobblestones in the street and the "No Parking: Construction" sign taped to a tree. And without even thinking, this little orchid sprang out of the car and ripped that sign down and shredded it. I left the car for the rest of the day, and when I got back to find the car still there, ticketless, I kinda went all Tiger-Woods-Y'all right there in the street.
This rebel thing is pretty exhilirating. Do you suppose it'll make my hair grow back?