Under my idea of duress, but at the cost of doing business, my company bought a table recently at a fundraising gala. Unusually set on a Friday night, (who thought that up?) There was the added detraction of having worked that day and being tired. My idea of a Friday night does not include a rubber chicken dinner, noise and inconsequential chatter. I stopped bitching. I went. Turns out, by nights end, I was glad I did.
I sat with a pleasant group. I know because I saw them work all day. I listened to awards and dopey speeches given by people with their hearts in the right place. Mine wasn’t in the right place. It was supposed to be at home in my sitting room. But, wait for it, I got a gift. My husband noticed my ex-husband’s name on the table seating chart. I have seen my ex-husband twice in a quarter of a century. It’s funny when you think how you spent a chunk of your life with someone and then see them twice in 20 some years. So we decided to go to his table and say hello. Needless to say, he was surprised to see me. I met his fiancée and got a long look at a man who is now in his late 60s. I was just 20 when we married, and he was a little older. He looked pretty much the same albeit grayer. We talked about the dogs we had had, the old farm where we had lived, the outbuildings, the cows that would get loose and the times we had known. Facebook in a small town tells you things unexpectedly because you know so many of the same people. Presumably you hear things about one another. I knew he was engaged again and I knew he was gray from a newspaper article I had seen.
A meeting like this is an opportunity. I always wondered what would be said. Gee you look great? Maybe. What’s new? I don’t think so. How is your family? Dead.
How about those Red Sox?
After a round of dumb questions I chuckled when his fiancée told him to shut the f@#k up. I knew that she liked him just the way she said it. He laughed too. I knew then he had learned something in 25 years. As had I. He said he would come by our table to see the rest of us. When he did, there was more of the same awkward banter about times long ago, of people long buried, and of things past forgotten that no longer mattered. But at the end of it he nicely said, “Let’s have lunch, or maybe the four of us could get together for dinner…”
Immediately, without missing a beat, “No, I don’t think so. But thanks anyway. I wish you well.” I didn’t even have to think about it. I mean, what’s the point? What on earth could we talk about? If we cared we’d still be married, not divorced. If I wanted to know I would’ve asked. If it impacted my life… Wait, other than some simple curiosity, he has no impact on my life anymore. There’s the shocker. Time erases things. It no longer matters. Not ill will, just no will.
You hit a point in life when some things are in focus, like who you love and who you don’t, and why. Such as what you believe in, and how you feel about things. And I realized it’s okay that it doesn’t matter anymore. My now husband and I have talked many times about how insignificant the unhappy past becomes when you are happy. It’s not that you wish them ill, it’s just that they no longer have any emotional register with you. Like someone you once knew in your old neighborhood. If they were sick, you would take them a casserole. But you wouldn’t get torn up about them, because they just didn’t have that place in your heart. That’s a gift.
So take heart. It’s lovely to see someone I now think of as someone I used to know. Someone I can look at and smile, and hope that this time he can marry and be happy. And I have much gratitude, I’m so glad I’m married to the man I’m with now. And furthermore, with the change in my ex-husband’s politics- now certifiably insane- I would have had to kill him.